American Art – Part I of IV: Terry Thompson
In the words of one writer, “In Thompson’s oil paintings of neon signage, he renders wires, rivets and other minutia because of his appreciation for how these hand-made signs are built. This may be a result of the many years he spent as an equipment engineer in Silicon Valley prior to earning his MFA at San Jose State University.
Terry is primarily drawn to older, unique signs that have somehow avoided the wrecking ball. Thompson says, ‘I see these signs as historically and emotionally charged metaphors for beating the odds. When I render rust, faded paint or broken neon, I’m imbuing my paintings with a sense of humanity and history.’ Text is prominent in most of Thompson’s paintings and he often amplifies its ambiguity by aggressively cropping. This results in disjointed text and words that confront the viewer, begging to be read or deciphered.
Thompson finds his subjects while exploring the forgotten back streets of cities. This discovery process, coupled with being in the presence of these signs, is important for his method which coalesces into paintings that are geometrically, contextually, and formally interesting; paintings which reveal a hidden beauty in the mundane and banal.”
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” – Thomas Paine, writer, patriot, political theorist, revolutionary, author of “Common Sense” and “The Age of Reason,” and one of the greatest of America’s Founding Fathers, who died 8 June 1809.
Some quotes from the work of Thomas Paine:
“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
“Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself – that is my doctrine.”
“The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government.”
“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”
“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.”
“That there are men in all countries who get their living by war, and by keeping up the quarrels of Nations is as shocking as it is true…”
“Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course or that a man should tell a lie? We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course. But we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time. It is therefore at least millions to one that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.”
“When it shall be said in any country in the world my poor are happy; neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want; the taxes are not oppressive; the rational world is my friend, because I am a friend of its happiness: When these things can be said, there may that country boast its Constitution and its Government.”
“When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”
A Poem for Today
“The Rain Poured Down”
By Dan Gerber
My mother weeping
in the dark hallway, in the arms of a man,
not my father,
as I sat at the top of the stairs unnoticed—
my mother weeping and pleading for what I didn’t know
then and can still only imagine—
for things to be somehow other than they were,
not knowing what I would change,
for, or to, or why,
only that my mother was weeping
in the arms of a man not me,
and the rain brought down the winter sky
and hid me in the walls that looked on,
indifferent to my mother’s weeping,
in the rain that brought down the dark afternoon.
Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts
Born 8 June 1829 – John Everett Millais, an English painter and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Died 8 June 1889 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, an English poet and Jesuit priest.
“Spring and Fall”
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
Died 8 June 1865 – Joseph Paxton, an English gardener, architect, and Member of Parliament best known for designing The Crystal Palace, a cast-iron and plate-glass building erected in Hyde Park, London to house the Great Exhibition of 1851. In the words of one historian, the “building was 1,851 feet (564 m) long, with an interior height of 128 feet (39 m). Because of the recent invention of the cast plate glass method in 1848, which allowed for large sheets of cheap but strong glass, it was at the time the largest amount of glass ever seen in a building and astonished visitors with its clear walls and ceilings that did not require interior lights, thus a ‘Crystal Palace.’”
The Crystal Palace is the structure at which the anonymous narrator of Dostoyevsky’s “Notes from Underground” directs his ire, since he sees it as a symbol of everything he despises about modernity, especially reason, science, and logic.
Fancies in Springtime: Michael Montoure
Died 8 June 1956 – Marie Laurencin, a French painter and printmaker.
A Second Poem for Today
By Shirley Buettner
While clearing the west
quarter for more cropland,
the Cat quarried
a porcelain doorknob
oystered in earth,
grained and crazed
like an historic egg,
with a screwless stem of
rusted and pitted iron.
I turn its cold white roundness
with my palm and
open the oak door
fitted with oval glass,
fretted with wood ivy,
and call my frontier neighbor.
Her voice comes distant but
clear, scolding children
and highbutton shoes.
A bucket of fresh eggs and
American Art – Part II of IV: Jacquelyn Bischak
Artist Statement: “I have worked in a number of mediums and genres… my favorite is figurative. Learning to paint the human form in oil has been an amazing journey. No other medium is so well suited for capturing human emotion and inspiration. I will continue to focus on figurative painting; working to simply capture moments of beauty, thought, and unity.”
Fancies in Springtime: Mark Edmundson
“Immersed in preprofessionalism, swimming in entertainment, my students have been sealed off from the chance to call everything they’ve valued into question, to look at new ways of life, and to risk everything. For them, education is knowing and lordly spectatorship, never the Socratic dialogue about how one ought to live one’s life.”
“Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit of experience and the last effort of genius.” – George Sand, the pseudonym of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, French novelist and memoirist, who died 8 June 1876.
Some quotes from the work of George Sand:
“One is happy once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness: simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience.”
“Let us accept truth, even when it surprises us and alters our views.”
“It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The reverse is true. As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides.”
“You can bind my body, tie my hands, govern my actions: you are the strongest, and society adds to your power; but with my will, sir, you can do nothing.”
“Nothing is so easy as to deceive one’s self when one does not lack wit and is familiar with all the niceties of language. Language is a prostitute queen who descends and rises to all roles. Disguises herself, arrays herself in fine apparel, hides her head and effaces herself; an advocate who has an answer for everything, who has always foreseen everything, and who assumes a thousand forms in order to be right. The most honorable of men is he who thinks best and acts best, but the most powerful is he who is best able to talk and write”
“Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.”
“The capacity of passion is both cruel and divine”
“I was born to love – but none of you wanted to believe it, and that misunderstanding was crucial in forming my character. It’s true that nature was strangely inconsistent in giving me a warm heart, but also a face that was like a stone mask and a tongue that was heavy and slow. She refused me what she bestowed freely on even the most loutish of my fellow men. . . . People judged my inner character by my outer covering, and like a sterile fruit, I withered under the rough husk I couldn’t slough off.”
“There are no more thorough prudes than those who have some little secret to hide.”
“Know how to replace in your heart, by the happiness of those you love, the happiness that may be wanting to yourself”
“Art for art’s sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of truth, art for the sake of the good and the beautiful, that is the faith I am searching for.”
“Admiration and familiarity are strangers.”
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“For all the tantalizing and provocative character of the Viking results, I know a hundred places on Mars which are far more interesting than our landing sites. The ideal tool is a roving vehicle carrying on advanced experiments, particularly in imaging, chemistry and biology. Prototypes of such rovers are under development by NASA. They know on their own how to go over rocks, how not to fall down ravines, how to get out of tight spots. It is within our capability to land a rover on Mars that could scan its surroundings, see the most interesting place in its field of view and, by the same time tomorrow, be there. Every day a new place, a complex, winding traverse over the varied topography of this appealing planet.”
American Art – Part III of IV: P. J. Smalley
Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts
“Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated ‘egos’ inside bags of skin.”
From the American Old West: Cochise
“You must speak straight so that your words may go as sunlight into our hearts.
Speak Americans…I will not lie to you; do not lie to me.” – Cochise, principal chief of the Chikonen band of the Chiricahua Apache and leader of an uprising that began in 1861, who died 8 June 1874.
In the words of one historian, “Following various skirmishes, Cochise and his men were gradually driven into the Dragoon Mountains but were nevertheless able to use the mountains for cover and as a base from which to continue attacks against the white settlements. Cochise managed to evade capture and continued his raids against white settlements and travelers until 1872. A treaty was finally negotiated by General Oliver O. Howard with the help of Tom Jeffords, who was Cochise’s only white friend.
After making peace, Cochise retired to his new reservation, with his friend Jeffords as agent, where he died of natural causes (probably abdominal cancer) in 1874. He was buried in the rocks above one of his favorite camps in Arizona’s Dragoon Mountains, now called Cochise Stronghold. Only his people and Tom Jeffords knew the exact location of his resting place, and they took the secret to their graves.”
A quote from Cochise:
“When I was young I walked all over this country, east and west, and saw no other people than the Apaches. After many summers I walked again and found another race of people had come to take it. How is it?
We were once a large people covering these mountains. We lived well: we were at peace. One day my best friend was seized by an officer of the white men and treacherously killed. At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong, and I and my people went to war with them.
The worst place of all is Apache Pass. There my brother and nephews were murdered. Their bodies were hung up and kept there till they were skeletons. Now Americans and Mexicans kill an Apache on sight. I have retaliated with all my might.
My people have killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and the Indians are few. Apaches are growing less every day.
Why is it that the Apaches wait to die — That they carry their lives on their fingernails? They roam over the hills and plains and want the heavens to fall on them. The Apaches were once a great nation; they are now but few, and because of this they want to die and so carry their lives on their fingernails.
I am alone in the world. I want to live in these mountains; I do not want to go to Tularosa. That is a long way off. I have drunk of the waters of the Dragoon Mountains and they have cooled me: I do not want to leave here.
Nobody wants peace more than I do. Why shut me up on a reservation? We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free as Americans do. Let us go wherever we please.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Evon Zerbetz (Part II)
In the words of one writer, “Evon carves with knives and gouges to create her imagery in slabs of linoleum. She rolls ink over the surface, lays cotton paper on top, and cranks the block through her etching press. This is repeated for each impression in the edition. If an image is in an edition of 70…she does this 70 times.
After the prints dry, Evon hand paints many of her linocuts, often with many layers of color, making each print a unique work of art.
Evon was born in Alaska and works full-time in her studio in the tall trees
of the island community of Ketchikan.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Emily Carr
A Third Poem for Today
“The Peace of Wild Things”
By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Fancies in Springtime: Mary Austin
“But there is one tree that for the footer of the mountain trails is voiceless; it speaks, no doubt, but it speaks only to the austere mountain heads, to the mindful wind and the watching stars. It speaks as men speak to one another and are not heard by the little ants crawling over their boots. This is the Big Tree, the Sequoia.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Karen Woods