American Art – Part I of III: Richard Orient
In the words of one writer, “New Landscapes is a series of landscapes painted over the past year. It includes the artist’s observations of oceans, wooded hills, and ponds in different seasons. In these landscape paintings, Orient emphasizes the subtle moods and transient light he sees and experiences, capturing moments often overlooked in nature. Some works assume an expansive perspective, as in the Atlantic ocean paintings, while others, like the pond reflections, are intimate and close portrayals. Throughout, Orient, seeks to convey his intimate connection to nature.”
A Poem for Today
“Old Woman in a Housecoat”
By Georgiana Cohen
An old woman in
a floor-length housecoat
had become sunset
to me, west-facing.
Turquoise, sage, or rose,
she leans out of her
second floor window,
chin slumped in her palm,
and gazes at the
fenced property line
between us, the cars
beached in the driveway,
the creeping slide of
light across shingles.
When the window shuts,
dusk becomes blush and
on vinyl siding.
Housecoats breathe across
the sky like frail clouds.
In the words of one critic, “Benjamin Shiff (1931 – 2011) was born in Germany and immigrated to Israel with his family at the age of two.
At age forty, Benjamin Shiff experienced an explosion of creative expression. He immersed himself in painting and explored music, poetry as well as philosophy. After his initial fascination with Belgian Surrealist artist Rene Magritte, Shiff enriched his oil and tempera painting techniques, which were widely used by the Old Masters, through advanced studies in Austria.
Shiff’s distinctive style is a blend of realistic figures and a touch of cubism. His figures are drawn from a profound knowledge of human form and its emotional potential, and are examined through a metaphysical prism. The subjects seem to search for comfort and refuge, and possess a kind of lyrical melancholy. They have a translucent quality, an illusion of an inner light. They express the artist’s quest to resolve the conflict between an often cruel reality and his innate idealism.
Shiff’s portrayal of women in general and mothers in particular, explores their softness, tenderness and mystery. His other subjects evoke mysticism and spiritual longing that reaches beyond the visual enjoyment of the observer.”
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“When an object impacts the Moon at high speed, it sets the Moon slightly wobbling. Eventually the vibrations die down but not in so short a period as eight hundred years. Such a quivering can be studied by laser reflection techniques. The Apollo astronauts emplaced in several locales on the Moon special mirrors called laser retroreflectors. When a laser beam from Earth strikes the mirror and bounces back, the round-trip travel time can be measured with remarkable precision. This time multiplied by the speed of light gives us the distance to the Moon at that moment to equally remarkable precision. Such measurements, performed over a period of years, reveal the Moon to be librating, or quivering with a period (about three years) and amplitude (about three meters), consistent with the idea that the crater Giordano Bruno was gouged out less than a thousand years ago.”
Died 10 June 1996 – Marie-Louise von Motesiczky, an Austrian painter.
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Ray Charles
“I never wanted to be famous; I only wanted to be great.” – Ray Charles, American songwriter, musician, and composer, who died 10 June 2004.
From the American History Archives: Nathaniel Hale Pryor
Died 10 June 1831 – Nathaniel Hale Pryor, an American frontiersman who, in the words of one historian, “served as Sergeant in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was born in Virginia and was a cousin of fellow expedition member Charles Floyd. His family moved to Kentucky when he was eleven. He was married in 1798, though the marriage may have ended before he joined the expedition on October 20, 1803, in Clarksville, Indiana; he was one of the ‘nine young men from Kentucky.’ Pryor was made sergeant in 1804, and led the First Squad of six privates. Lewis and Clark considered Pryor ‘a man of character and ability.’”
Fancies in Springtime: Richelle E. Goodrich
“Rain is a lullaby heard through a thick, isolating blanket of clouds. It is the tinkling harp of water droplets; a moist breath whistling through willow reeds; a pattering beat background to the mourner’s melody. Rain is a soft song of compassion for the brokenhearted.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Canadian ceramic sculptor Kathy Venter: “(Her) life-size, figurative ceramic sculpture has received widespread international acclaim.
Venter has developed a unique hand-building method to sculpt her ceramics without the use of moulds or armatures.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Andrei Guruianu
Dead before I came into this world, grandfather,
I carry your name, yet I’ve never met you.
I hear my name, and know
that somehow they refer to you.
When I scribble those six letters
fast, to sign some document
or print them neatly in a box,
I feel your presence flow with the ink
stain and burn through the paper,
forever imprinted in my mind.
Late summer nights
gathered around the dinner table,
leftovers being cleared away,
faces clouded in cigarette smoke,
I hear voices pass the word
back and forth in reverence.
Somehow I know it’s not me
the little one grabbing for attention.
They speak of you, Andrei,
the one I’ve never met,
whose name I carry.
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: The Shirelles: Shirley Owens Alston
Born 10 June 1941 – Shirley Owens Alston, an American soul singer and lead vocalist of The Shirelles.
Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts
“Reasonable–that is, human–men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: The Shirelles: Micki Harris
Died 10 June 1982 – Addie “Micki” Harris, an American soul singer and member of The Shirelles.
American Art – Part II of III: Tip Toland
Ceramic sculptor Tip Toland has a B.F.A. in Ceramics from the University of Colorado, Boulder and an M.F.A. in Ceramics from Montana State University, Bozeman. Here is her Artist Statement: “My work is an attempt to give voice to inner psychological and/or spiritual states of being. What is of primary importance to me is that the figures contain particular aspects of humanity which they can mirror back to the viewer. It’s the vulnerability of Humanity I am after. That is one reason for choosing very old or very young subjects. They both can portray innocence as well as extreme complexity.
Often they seem best portrayed as dolls. This can remove them one step from being so literal yet still allow the psychological weight. Perhaps that is something not noticed immediately yet allows the viewer easier access. To myself I can muse about the viewers engagement with them as dolls however It is the felt response I am after in every case.”
Fancies in Springtime: Denise Levertov
“Trying to remember old dreams. A voice. Who came in.
And meanwhile the rain, all day, all evening,
quiet steady sound. Before it grew too dark
watched the blue iris leaning under the rain,
the flame of the poppies guttered and went out.
A voice. Almost recalled. There have been times
the gods entered. Entered a room, a cave?
A long enclosure where I was, the fourth wall of it
too distant or too dark to see. The birds are silent,
no moths at the lit windows. Only a swaying rosebush
pierces the table’s reflection, raindrops gazing from it.
There have been hands laid on my shoulders.
What has been said to me,
how has my life replied?
The rain, the rain…”
“People would rather believe than know.” – Edward O. Wilson, American biologist, researcher (sociobiology, biodiversity), theorist, naturalist (conservationist) author, and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction (1979, “On Human Nature”; 1991, “The Ants” [with Bert Holldobler]), who was born 10 June 1929.
Some quotes from the work of Edward O. Wilson:
“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”
“Perhaps the time has come to cease calling it the ‘environmentalist’ view, as though it were a lobbying effort outside the mainstream of human activity, and to start calling it the real-world view.”
“True character arises from a deeper well than religion. It is the internalization of moral principles of a society, augmented by those tenets personally chosen by the individual, strong enough to endure through trials of solitude and adversity. The principles are fitted together into what we call integrity, literally the integrated self, wherein personal decisions feel good and true. Character is in turn the enduring source of virtue. It stands by itself and excites admiration in others.”
“You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give.”
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and makes important choices wisely.”
“One planet, one experiment.”
“There is no better high than discovery.”
“Adults forget the depths of languor into which the adolescent mind descends with ease. They are prone to undervalue the mental growth that occurs during daydreaming and aimless wandering.”
“Still, if history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory when the brain was evolving. Thus it is in sharp contrast to biology, which was developed as a product of the modern age and is not underwritten by genetic algorithms. The uncomfortable truth is that the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth will never acquire both in full measure.”
“The love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science.”
“Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”
“Human nature is deeper and broader than the artificial contrivance of any existing culture.”
“Sometimes a concept is baffling not because it is profound but because it is wrong.”
“Humanity is part of nature, a species that evolved among other species. The more closely we identify ourselves with the rest of life, the more quickly we will be able to discover the sources of human sensibility and acquire the knowledge on which an enduring ethic, a sense of preferred direction, can be built.”
“It often occurs to me that if, against all odds, there is a judgmental God and heaven, it will come to pass that when the pearly gates open, those who had the valor to think for themselves will be escorted to the head of the line, garlanded, and given their own personal audience.”
“Humanity today is like a waking dreamer, caught between the fantasies of sleep and the chaos of the real world. The mind seeks but cannot find the precise place and hour. We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology. We thrash about. We are terribly confused by the mere fact of our existence, and a danger to ourselves and to the rest of life.”
“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”
“I believe that in the process of locating new avenues of creative thought, we will also arrive at an existential conservatism. It is worth asking repeatedly: Where are our deepest roots? We are, it seems, Old World, catarrhine primates, brilliant emergent animals, defined genetically by our unique origins, blessed by our newfound biological genius, and secure in our homeland if we wish to make it so. What does it all mean? This is what it all means: To the extent that we depend on prosthetic devices to keep ourselves and the biosphere alive, we will render everything fragile. To the extent that we banish the rest of life, we will impoverish our own species for all time. And if we should surrender our genetic nature to machine-aided ratiocination, and our ethics and art and our very meaning to a habit of careless discursion in the name of progress, imagining ourselves godlike and absolved from our ancient heritage, we will become nothing.”
“Moreover, we look in vain to philosophy for the answer to the great riddle. Despite its noble purpose and history, pure philosophy long ago abandoned the foundational questions about human existence. The question itself is a reputation killer. It has become a Gorgon for philosophers, upon whose visage even the best thinkers fear to gaze. They have good reason for their aversion. Most of the history of philosophy consists of failed models of the mind. The field of discourse is strewn with the wreckage of theories of consciousness. After the decline of logical positivism in the middle of the twentieth century, and the attempt of this movement to blend science and logic into a closed system, professional philosophers dispersed in an intellectual diaspora. They emigrated into the more tractable disciplines not yet colonized by science – intellectual history, semantics, logic, foundational mathematics, ethics, theology, and, most lucratively, problems of personal life adjustment.
Philosophers flourish in these various endeavors, but for the time being, at least, and by a process of elimination, the solution of the riddle has been left to science. What science promises, and has already supplied in part, is the following. There is a real creation story of humanity, and one only, and it is not a myth. It is being worked out and tested, and enriched and strengthened, step by step.”
“We need freedom to roam across land owned by no one but protected by all, whose unchanging horizon is the same that bounded the world of our millennial ancestors.”
“Science, its imperfections notwithstanding, is the sword in the stone that humanity finally pulled. The question it poses, of universal and orderly materialism, is the most important that can be asked in philosophy and religion.”
“Jungles and grasslands are the logical destinations, and towns and farmland the labyrinths that people have imposed between them sometime in the past. I cherish the green enclaves accidentally left behind.”
“The predisposition to religious belief is an ineradicable part of human behavior. Mankind has produced 100,000 religions. It is an illusion to think that scientific humanism and learning will dispel religious belief. Men would rather believe than know… A kind of Darwinistic survival of the fittest has occurred with religions… The ecological principle called Gause’s law holds that competition is maximal between species with identical needs… Even submission to secular religions such as Communism and guru cults involve willing subordination of the individual to the group. Religious practices confer biological advantage. The mechanisms of religion include (1) objectification (the reduction of reality to images and definitions that are easily understood and cannot be refuted), (2) commitment through faith (a kind of tribalism enacted through self-surrender), (3) and myth (the narratives that explain the tribe’s favored position on the earth, often incorporating supernatural forces struggling for control, apocalypse, and millennium).”
“Another principle that I believe can be justified by scientific evidence so far is that nobody is going to emigrate from this planet not ever….It will be far cheaper, and entail no risk to human life, to explore space with robots. The technology is already well along…the real thrill will be in learning in detail what is out there…It is an especially dangerous delusion if we see emigration into space as a solution to be taken when we have used up this planet…Earth, by the twenty-second century, can be turned, if we so wish, into a permanent paradise for human beings…”
“Every major religion today is a winner in the Darwinian struggle waged among cultures, and none ever flourished by tolerating its rivals.”
“Soccer moms are the enemy of natural history and the full development of a child.”
“Possibly here in the Holocene, or just before 10 or 20 thousand years ago, life hit a peak of diversity. Then we appeared. We are the great meteorite.”
“Let us see how high we can fly before the sun melts the wax in our wings.”
Fancies in Springtime: Emily Carr
“There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Margherita Lipinska: “I was born in 1964 in Poland. I completed a degree in Painting at the Academy of Fine Arts of Danzig in 1989 and held my first personal exhibition there. I obtained a scholarship to study History of Art at the Roman University of La Sapienza and came therefore to Rome to study in1991-1992. I live and work in Rome where along my artistic activity. My conception of the pictorial art is expressed through abstract paintings that tend to enhance mainly their materiality while introducing in a modern style themes that originate from the past and also from classical Art. I often use writings in my painting as pictorial expression. They derive from reading over passages and poems and evoke notes of a fancy journey in the world of culture. I use jute canvas or cloth used for coffee bags for I like material that I can carve after having plastered it. I don’t use a frame because I prefer to see the painting supple and free to adapt to various spaces breaking thus the rigidity of a framed and imprisoned work.”
A Third Poem for Today
By David Wagoner
He approaches her, trailing his whole fortune,
Perfectly cocksure, and suddenly spreads
The huge fan of his tail for her amazement.
Each turquoise and purple, black-horned, walleyed quill
Comes quivering forward, an amphitheatric shell
For his most fortunate audience: her alone.
He plumes himself. He shakes his brassily gold
Wings and rump in a dance, lifting his claws
Stiff-legged under the great bulge of his breast.
Back from the Territory – Art: Evon Zerbetz (Part IV)
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: Mary Austin
American Art – Part III of III: Jeffrey Reed
Artist Statement: “As an artist it is difficult to say exactly what it is I am doing, or perhaps better said, I never know how a painting will turn out. I start a painting with an idea based on direct observation. In my immediate surroundings, I look for a visual spark along with a personal connection to a subject to get me started. In the past couple of years I have found myself wanting to spend more time with my subjects, wanting to understand their forms better. Ironically I have also been spending more time working on the paintings away from the subjects, moving elements around in pursuit of a visual dynamic. It feels like a juggling act between observing and inventing that leads to the images. I am more interested in the evocative than the literal and perhaps that pursuit is what painting has been for me recently.”
Below – “down patrick”; “ciede”; “port a cloy”; “above belderg”; “western light”; “upper black eddy.”