American Art – Part I of V: Deborah Martin
In the words of one writer, “In her recent series ‘The Slabs: The Last Free Place in America,’ painter Deborah Martin turns her attention on the community of Slab City located outside of Niland CA on the Salton Sea. Slab City takes its name from the concrete slabs that remain from the abandoned World War II Marine barracks of Camp Dunlap. The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, home to year round slabbers and snowbirds in the winter months.”
“Cell phones are not a sign of power, they’re a sign of subservience.” – Doug Pappas, American lawyer, baseball statistician, and unpatriotic Luddite, who died 20 May 2004.
Fancies in Springtime: Bill Watterson
A Poem for Today
“Before Dawn on Bluff Road”
By August Kleinzahler
The crow’s raw hectoring cry
scoops clean an oval divot
of sky, its fading echo
among the oaks and poplars swallowed
first by a jet banking west
then the Erie-Lackawanna
sounding its horn as it comes through the tunnel
through the cliffs to the river
and around the bend of King’s Cove Bluff,
full of timber, Ford chassis, rock salt.
You can hear it in the dark
from beyond what was once the amusement park.
And the wind carries along as well,
from down by the river,
when the tide’s just so,
the drainage just so,
the chemical ghost of old factories,
the rotted piers and warehouses:
lye, pigfat, copra from Lever Bros.,
formaldehyde from the coffee plant,
dyes, unimaginable solvents—
a soup of polymers, oxides,
tailings fifty years old
seeping through the mud, the aroma
almost comforting by now, like food,
wafting into my childhood room
with its fevers and dreams.
My old parents asleep,
only a few yards across the hall,
door open—lest I cry?
almost nothing of my life.
American Art – Part II of V: C. M. Cooper
C. M. Cooper refers to herself as a “contemporary traditionalist.” According to one critic, “Her impressionistic paintings blend classic aesthetics with the modern figure, and Cooper’s delicate color sensitivity and wonderful sense of light create images that are filled with emotion.”
Fancies in Springtime: Roman Krznaric
“In a culture obsessed with hard work and career success, it can be difficult to wean ourselves off the work ethic. And we may not want to if we are engrossed in a career that is making us feel fully alive. But if we do seek the advantages of a four-day week, and the space to nurture other parts of who we are, then we might be wise to put our hopes in the virtues of simple living.”
“What is it to be human?”
What is staying alive? To possess
A great hall inside of a cell.
What is it to know? The same root
Underneath the branches.
What is it to believe? Being a carer
Until relief takes over.
And to forgive? On fours through thorns
To keep company to an old enemy.
What is it to sing? To receive breath
From the genius of creation.
What’s work but humming a song
From wood and wheat.
What are state affairs? A craft
That’s still only crawling?
And armaments? Thrust a knife
In a baby’s fist.
Being a nation? What can it be? A gift
In the swell of the heart.
And to love a country? Keeping house
In a cloud of witnesses.
“One is not really a photographer until preoccupation with learning has been outgrown and the camera in his hands is an extension of himself. There is where creativity begins.” – Carl Mydans, American photographer, who was born 20 May 1907.
During the course of his long career, Carl Mydans worked for both the Farm Security Administration (recording the Depression-era plight of rural workers) and “Life” magazine (chronicling the events of World War II and the conflict in Korea).
Below – Senator John F. Kennedy campaigns with his wife in Boston, 1958; General Douglas McArthur wades ashore in Luzon, Philippines, 9 January 1945; on the road from Manville to Bound Brook, New Jersey, 1936; the bombing of Chongqing, China by Japanese aircraft, 1941; an exhausted Marine catching a nap while sitting on a cart full of ammunition, Korea, 1951.
Fancies in Springtime: Henry David Thoreau
“Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain-storms in the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. In those driving northeast rains which tried the village houses so, when the maids stood ready with mop and pail in front entries to keep the deluge out, I sat behind my door in my little house, which was all entry, and thoroughly enjoyed its protection.”
20 May 1609 – Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London by Thomas Thorpe, perhaps without authorization.
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
British Art – Part I of II: Thomas Edwin Mostyn
Inn the words of one writer, “British painter Thomas Edwin Mostyn (1864-1930) was born in Liverpool. Raised in Manchester, he studied at the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts. Tom Mostyns work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1891 as well as being shown extensively abroad. Mostyn lived in London and later in Torquay, where he died on 22nd August 1930. Mostyn is generally known for his scenes depiciting a bold Romantisicm based on Victorian garden scenes.”
Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson
A Second Poem for Today
“The Bethlehem Nursing Home”
By Rodney Torreson
A birdbath ministers
to the lawn chairs,
all toppled: a recliner
on its face, metal arms
trying to push it up;
an overturned rocker,
curvature of the spine.
Armchairs on their sides,
One faces the flowers.
A director’s chair
folded, as if prepared
to be taken up.
Some quotes from the work of Honore de Balzac:
“It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action.”
“When women love us, they forgive us everything, even our crimes; when they do not love us, they give us credit for nothing, not even our virtues.”
“Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies.”
“Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact.”
“The fact is that love is of two kinds, one which commands, and one which obeys. The two are quite distinct, and the passion to which the one gives rise is not the passion of the other.”
“Love is the poetry of the senses.”
“Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.”
“The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the violin.”
“Passion is universal humanity. Without it religion, history, romance and art would be useless.”
“Love or hatred must constantly increase between two persons who are always together; every moment fresh reasons are found for loving or hating better.”
“First love is a kind of vaccination which saves a man from catching the complaint the second time.”
“It is easier to be a lover than a husband for the simple reason that it is more difficult to be witty every day than to say pretty things from time to time.”
“I do not regard a broker as a member of the human race.”
“The habits of life form the soul, and the soul forms the countenance.”
British Art – Part II of II: Alain Choisnet
Here is how British sculptor Alain Choisnet (born 1962) describes his artistic career: “I was born in Britain at the foot of the magnificent castle of Ferns, but it was in a Paris suburb that I grew up. Philosophical studies gave me a solid understanding of the human being. This knowledge helped me tremendously to assert myself as an artist. It is enough to seize a gesture, an emotion, then to set them while preserving the sincerity of moment and the fluidity of the movement.”
Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge
“It is our duty to preserve huge tracts of land in something resembling its native condition. The biological interactions necessary to insure the continuities of life are astonishingly complex, and cannot take place in islands of semi-wilderness like the national parks.”
From the American History Archives: The Pinnacle of Fashion
20 May 1873 – Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss receive a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.
A Third Poem for Today
“Children in a Field”
By Angela Shaw
They don’t wade in so much as they are taken.
Deep in the day, in the deep of the field,
every current in the grasses whispers ‘hurry
hurry,’ every yellow spreads its perfume
like a rumor, impelling them further on.
It is the way of girls. It is the sway
of their dresses in the summer trance-
light, their bare calves already far-gone
in green. What songs will they follow?
Whatever the wood warbles, whatever storm
or harm the border promises, whatever
calm. Let them go. Let them go traceless
through the high grass and into the willow-
blur, traceless across the lean blue glint
of the river, to the long dark bodies
of the conifers, and over the welcoming
threshold of nightfall.
Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson
“What Proust is describing is an act of self-discovery on the part of his reader. Immersing herself in Proust, the reader may encounter aspects of herself that, while they have perhaps been in existence for a long time, have remained unnamed, undescribed, and therefore in a certain sense unknown. One might say that the reader learns the language of herself.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Jeremy Mann
In the words of one writer, “Jeremy Mann holds a Cum Laude BFA from Ohio University and an MFA with valedictorian honor from Academy of Art University in San Francisco. In his creative practice, Mann aims to imbue his city, San Francisco, with drama, mood, and personality. He paints his immediate surroundings with intimate, dynamic expression. A number of his compositions are inspired by wet pavement that reflects street lamps and neon signs and glitters in the rain.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Claudia Emerson
One rusty horseshoe hangs on a nail
above the door, still losing its luck,
and a work-collar swings, an empty
old noose. The silence waits, wild to be
broken by hoofbeat and heavy
harness slap, will founder but remain;
while, outside, above the stable,
eight, nine, now ten buzzards swing low
in lazy loops, a loose black warp
of patience, bearing the blank sky
like a pall of wind on mourning
wings. But the bones of this place are
long picked clean. Only the hayrake’s
ribs still rise from the rampant grasses.
Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts
Back from the Territory – Art: Arnie Weimer (Part III)
In the words of one writer, “Even though Arnie Weimer holds the Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati, he contends that experience has been his best teacher. During his over 30 years in Alaska, he has experimented with many styles and mediums. Bronze, oil, stone, wood, watercolor, printmaking, and jewelry are some of the many mediums in which Arnie has worked.
Arnie also has experience with the uniquely northern art of snow sculpting. He captained teams that placed in the Capital City Snow Sculpting Competition, winning first and second place in consecutive years. His first place team represented the state of Alaska at the National Snow Sculpting Competition, where they won a Spectators Choice Award for their sculpture, the bust of a Tlingit Chief.
Arnie worked with many native artists while he was employed by the Indian Studies Program in the public schools. He also operated a studio for several years where many Alaskan artists gathered to practice their work. Consequently, Arnie’s work shows influences from the many forms of art indigenous to Alaska.
Recently, Arnie has focused his talents on creating watercolor originals and reproduction prints, as well as embossed etchings featuring heavy influence of traditional Alaska native artwork. Arnie now lives in Juneau with his two cats and his dog Zorro. On many a summer day, Arnie can be spotted on a sidewalk or in a park, sketching or painting his next work of art.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Cicadas at the End of Summer”
Whine as though a pine tree is bowing a broken violin,
As though a bandsaw cleaves a thousand thin sheets of
They chime like freight wheels on a Norfolk Southern
slowing into town.
But all you ever see is the silence.
Husks, glued to the underside of maple leaves.
With their nineteen fifties Bakelite lines they’d do
just as well hanging from the ceiling of a space
What cicadas leave behind is a kind of crystallized memory;
The stubborn detail of, the shape around a life turned
The color of forgotten things: a cold broth of tea & milk
in the bottom of a mug.
Or skin on an old tin of varnish you have to lift with
A fly paper that hung thirty years in Bird Cooper’s pantry
Fancies in Springtime: William Kittredge
“Our old pilgrims believed stories in which the West was a promise, a place where decent people could escape the wreckage of failed lives and start over. Come along, the dream whispers, and you can have another chance. We still listen to promises in the wind. This time, we think, we’ll get it right.”
American Art – Part V of V: Alex Roulette
Artist Statement: “My current series of paintings depict fabricated American landscapes. The invented landscapes arise from archetypal citations of past and present cultural influences. Placing figures into these landscapes is an attempt to take advantage of the viewer’s natural ability to extrapolate narratives. By creating the paintings using a conjuncture of various photographic references, I continue to explore the distinctions between photographic and painted space. The disjointed nature of the source images, contrasting with the way they are realistically unified, take on a contingent sense of reality.
Inventing landscapes allow memories of places and events to be fictionalized. Coalescing unrelated photographs is done in a way comparable to the process in which the mind synthesizes images when recollecting memories or imagining new images. As opposed to culling images from an abstract memory bank, I utilized tangible sources, many of which come from the vast image resources our contemporary culture offers. The current expanding abundance of accessible images is allowing the imagination to expand the ability to visualize unseen places.”
I will not be making my daily posts for the next couple of weeks, since I will be attending my youngest son’s wedding at the Flying Caballos Ranch in San Luis Obispo, California (see the photographs below). Following the nuptials, I will be spending some time in San Francisco and Mendocino, before heading back to Fayetteville by way of Boulder, Colorado. As everyone can imagine, I will suffer terrible aesthetic and cultural deprivations on this Road Trip, but I will nonetheless try to post some pictures of the less testing parts of the journey.