American Art – Part I of IV: John Stockwell
In the words of one critic, “Using his hands and fingertips to paint, artist John Stockwell creates an unbelievable surface on his canvases that continually arrests his viewers. Stockwell, largely a landscape painter, creates panoramas with a rich array of peaks, clusters, mounds, troughs, and ridges in thick paint. Reminiscent of the vivid work of Vincent van Gogh, Stockwell’s images emit life, exuberance, and energy from the surface and via his brilliant use of color.”
A Poem for Today
By Philip Paradis
Wanderer, wherever you go,
whenever you drink again
from these melting snow fields,
the fog will slowly rise
off this lake of clouds,
you will walk softly
and not disturb
the wood-drake’s dance,
the partridge’s drumming,
Nobel Laureate: Pearl S. Buck
“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels.” – Pearl S. Buck, American writer, author of “The Good Earth” (which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932), and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces,” who was born 26 June 1892.
Some quotes from the work of Pearl S. Buck:
“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”
“There are many ways of breaking a heart. Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream — whatever that dream might be.”
“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration. ”
“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”
“The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members”
“Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman.”
“Now, five years is nothing in a man’s life except when he is very young and very old…”
“Sorrow fully accepted brings its own gifts. For there is alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmitted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.”
“Perhaps one has to be very old before one learns to be amused rather than shocked.”
“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word-excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”
“All things are possible until they are proved impossible and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.”
“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”
“I love people. I love my family, my children . . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.”
“One faces the future with one’s past.”
Reflections in Summer: Theodore Roosevelt
Here is how Italian hyperrealist painter Giuseppe Muscio describes the genesis of his artistic vocation when he was a boy in Apulia: “I was fascinated by the majestic landscape around me and realized that I was born to be an artist and painter. If I close my eyes, I still can smell the perfume of the rows of vines, the fragrance of the olives and the almonds. I immediately began to reproduce what I could see onto drawing sheets, which my grandfather would give me. Soon, I moved to Milan with my family, leaving behind my roots and my love for the region. I was passionate about painting; I studied the painting’s techniques of the greatest painters of 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. I also experimented with various painting techniques using scientific methods.”
“Every American carries in his bloodstream the heritage of the malcontent and the dreamer.” –Dorothy Fuldheim, American journalist and television news anchor, who was born 26 June 1893.
In the words of one historian, “Fuldheim has a role in American television news history; she is credited with being the first woman in the United States to anchor a television news broadcast as well to host her own television show. She has been referred to as the ‘First Lady of Television News.’”
Another quote from the work of Dorothy Fuldheim: “This is a youth-oriented society, and the joke is on them because youth is a disease from which we all recover.”
Reflections in Summer: Eve Chase
A Second Poem for Today
“Mahayana in Vermont”
By Sydney Lea
My objectives this morning were vague.
As always I’d hike these hills—
a way to keep going
against the odds age deals,
a way to keep body and soul
together, and not so much thinking
as letting things steal into mind—
but I started counting
from the very first step I took.
I wore rank old boots, ill-laced,
and patchwork pants.
Around my neck hung the frayed
lanyard of a whistle I use
to summon our trio of dogs,
who capered and yelped their pleasure
at one of our walks,
and more miraculous still,
at having me for a master.
It’s true in a sense
that I always count as I wander,
though it’s usually the beats of a tune
(Thelonious’s “Blue Monk”
a favorite) that mark my time.
These counts felt odder,
better. We scattered a brood
of grouse at step 91.
The deerflies strafed us.
At 500 a late trillium
glowed by a ledge like a lotus.
Right along the rain kept pounding.
I was mindful of all these things
but I never stopped counting.
Life was good, and more.
It was worthy of better response.
At 1000 I thought,
‘Enough’—and counted on.
Nothing was coming to mind.
Nothing is coming again
from my hike half the day ago
with three dogs through rain
but a mystic sense of well-being
in quietly chanted numbers.
Whatever this trance,
I treasured it as a wonder
not to be wrenched into meaning,
as in ‘Every second counts,’
as in ‘You should count your blessings,’
though of those there seems no doubt.
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“You see all the other fellows were so active and earnest and all that sort of thing- always rampaging, and skirmishing, and scouring the desert sands, and pacing the margin of the sea, and chasing knights all over the place, and devouring damsels, and going on generally- whereas I liked to get my meals regular and then to prop my back against a bit of rock and snooze a bit, and wake up and think of things going on and how they kept going on just the same, you know!”
Spanish painter Luis Ricardo Falero (1851-1896) specialized in portraying female nudes and mythological, oriental, and fantasy settings. In the words of one critic, “(Falero) is one of a number of painters concentrating on the nude, shown in a highly-finished manner, and in a mythological or fairy tale setting. At his best, Falero’s paintings show an almost super-realist talent for depicting the female form, but many of his girls are rather coy, with an emphasis on sexiness and not much effort at a subject – pin-ups rather than high art. Falero wavers on both sides of the line between a beautiful nude and artistic girl, and an oversweet coquettish Salon painting.”
Reflections in Summer: Viola Shipman
“If I had to describe the scent of Michigan in spring and summer, it wouldn’t be a particular smell – blooming wildflowers or boat exhaust off the lake – it would be a color: Green.”
26 June 1284 – The citizens of Hamelin, Germany hire the Pied Piper to lure rats out of their town with his magic pipe. When he finishes the job, the townspeople refuse to pay him, and so he retaliates by turning his magic on Hamelin’s children, leading them away from the town, just as he had the other brutes.
Reflections in Summer: Magdalena Abakanowicz
“Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Abby Heller-Burnham
Artist Statement: “I use a combination of naturalism and spontaneity to represent certain aspects of what I have seen and experienced during semi-conscious dream states. My work portrays an ethereal luminosity that creates life-like spaces which the viewer can visually enter. My goal is to create increasingly complex compositions by combining multiple images from a vast collection of visual references. With a highly disciplined background in traditional methods and techniques as a base, I nevertheless strive to expand its boundaries to find new artistic approaches through continual experimentation.
I find nineteenth century naturalism to be particularly inspiring. Its simplicity of design, complex esthetic content, and distinct atmospheric quality all resonate with my artistic sensibilities. Klimt and Mucha, for example, have been important influences, particularly their unique blend of graphic patterns and textures with natural realism.
I am always in the process of finding my own delicate balance between naturalism and other contradictory interests that also inspire me. I believe that a versatile and experimental approach leads to the resolution of this conflict, and allows me to reach beyond realism to more fully express my ideas.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Calligraphy Accompanied by the Mood of a Calm but Definitive Sauce”
By Dick Allen
Make your strokes thus: ‘the horizontal’:
as a cloud that slowly drifts across the horizon;
‘the vertical’: as an ancient but strong vine stem;
‘the dot’: a falling rock;
and learn to master ‘the sheep leg, the tiger’s claw,
an apricot kernel, a dewdrop, the new moon,
the wave rising and falling.’Do these
while holding your arm out above the paper
like the outstretched leg of a crane.
The strength of your hand
will give the stroke its bone.
But for real accomplishment, it would be well
if you would go to live solitary in a forest silence,
or beside a river flowing serenely.
It might also be useful
to look down a lonesome road,
and for the future
to stare into the gray static of a television screen,
or when lost in a video game
to accept you may never reach the final level,
where the dragon awaits, guarding the pot of gold,
and that you’ve left no footprints, not a single one,
despite all your adventures,
anyone following you could ever follow.
THE WAYS OF LOVE – PART I OF II: A LOVE SONG AND A CONTROVERSIAL MUSIC VIDEO
Born 26 June 1956 – Chris Isaak, an American singer and songwriter.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“Until we understand what the land is, we are at odds with everything we touch. And to come to that understanding it is necessary, even now, to leave the regions of our conquest – the cleared fields, the towns and cities, the highways – and re-enter the woods. For only there can a man encounter the silence and the darkness of his own absence. Only in this silence and darkness can he recover the sense of the world’s longevity, of its ability to thrive without him, of his inferiority to it and his dependence on it. Perhaps then, having heard that silence and seen that darkness, he will grow humble before the place and begin to take it in – to learn from it what it is. As its sounds come into his hearing, and its lights and colors come into his vision, and its odors come into his nostrils, then he may come into its presence as he never has before, and he will arrive in his place and will want to remain. His life will grow out of the ground like the other lives of the place, and take its place among them. He will be with them – neither ignorant of them, nor indifferent to them, nor against them – and so at last he will grow to be native-born. That is, he must reenter the silence and the darkness, and be born again.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Kim Addonizio
I know my friend is going,
though she still sits there
across from me in the restaurant,
and leans over the table to dip
her bread in the oil on my plate; I know
how thick her hair used to be,
and what it takes for her to discard
her man’s cap partway through our meal,
to look straight at the young waiter
and smile when he asks
how we are liking it. She eats
as though starving—chicken, dolmata,
the buttery flakes of filo—
and what’s killing her
eats, too. I watch her lift
a glistening black olive and peel
the meat from the pit, watch
her fine long fingers, and her face,
puffy from medication. She lowers
her eyes to the food, pretending
not to know what I know. She’s going.
And we go on eating.
American Art – Part III of IV: Casey Baugh
In the words of one writer, Casey Baugh (born 1984) “believes that good art ‘requires a distinct idea and a thorough knowledge of the language [of art] by which to communicate it. A good artist always has something to say, but truly great artists have obtained the ability to say it through experience and sheer determination.’ It is with this mind-set that Baugh is doing work comparable to artists three times his age and has continued to conduct workshops, offer demonstrations, and give lectures in order to teach aspiring artists how to effectively communicate their interpretation of the beauty of creation and life through art.”
THE WAYS OF LOVE – PART II OF II: A LOVE POEM THAT IS ALSO A GREAT DRAMATIC MONOLOGUE
“Love 20 Cents The First Quarter Mile”
All right. I may have lied to you and about you, and made a
few pronouncements a bit too sweeping, perhaps, and
possibly forgotten to tag the bases here or there,
And damned your extravagance, and maligned your tastes,
and libeled your relatives, and slandered a few of your
Nevertheless, come back.
Come home. I will agree to forget the statements that you
issued so copiously to the neighbors and the press,
And you will forget that figment of your imagination, the
blonde from Detroit;
I will agree that your lady friend who lives above us is not
crazy, bats, nutty as they come, but on the contrary rather bright,
And you will concede that poor old Steinberg is neither a
drunk, nor a swindler, but simply a guy, on the eccentric
side, trying to get along.
(Are you listening, you bitch, and have you got this straight?)
Because I forgive you, yes, for everything. I forgive you for
being beautiful and generous and wise,
I forgive you, to put it simply, for being alive, and pardon
you, in short, for being you.
Because tonight you are in my hair and eyes,
And every street light that our taxi passes shows me you
again, still you,
And because tonight all other nights are black, all other hours
are cold and far away, and now, this minute, the stars are
very near and bright.
Come back. We will have a celebration to end all celebrations.
We will invite the undertaker who lives beneath us, and a
couple of boys from the office, and some other friends.
And Steinberg, who is off the wagon, and that
insane woman who lives upstairs, and a few reporters, if
anything should break.
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“Truly wise men called on each element alike to minister to their joy, and while the touch of sun-bathed air, the fragrance of garden soil, the ductible qualities of mud, and the spark-whirling rapture of playing with fire, had each their special charm, they did not overlook the bliss of getting their feet wet.”
“It was a world that I wanted to record because it was such a miracle visitation to me.” – Laurence Edward Alan “Laurie” Lee, English poet, novelist, and screenwriter, who was born 26 June 1914.
“Home From Abroad”
Far-fetched with tales of other worlds and ways,
My skin well-oiled with wines of the Levant,
I set my face into a filial smile
To greet the pale, domestic kiss of Kent.
But shall I never learn? That gawky girl,
Recalled so primly in my foreign thoughts,
Becomes again the green-haired queen of love
Whose wanton form dilates as it delights.
Her rolling tidal landscape floods the eye
And drowns Chianti in a dusky stream;
her flower-flecked grasses swim with simple horses,
The hedges choke with roses fat as cream.
Reflections in Summer: James McNeil Whistler
“As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Stephanie Ryan (Part II)
Stephanie Ryan is a painter who lives and works in the Yukon Territory.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Philip Paradis
Downwind from a shaggy headed bull
the air is alive
with a damp odor of hides.
Lightning and thunder
or prairie fire spirits him,
or a mild wind
like this over the rise,
with cows grazing
the valley below.
The bull on a bluff,
tail slapping flies
and nose to the wind,
I stalk him low
through the tall grass,
frame him on the horizon
with equal parts of earth and sky,
and focus on infinity —
his great horned head turns
the other way.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
American Art – Part IV of IV: Fred Wessel
Artist’s Statement: “A two week trip that I took to Italy in 1984, had a profound and prolonged influence on my work. At that time I was involved in making a series of aquarium images. I went to Italy to view the art of the Renaissance, for it is my belief that all visual artists, especially realists, should experience and study this work firsthand. I could not have predicted the dramatic impact, both direct and indirect, that this journey of discovery would have on my ensuing work. I believe that in our search for novelty in post-modernist art making, we often lose touch with certain basics: beauty, grace, harmony and visual poetry are nowadays rarely considered important criteria in evaluating contemporary works of art.
Since the Bauhaus, the term ‘precious’ has had a negative connotation in art schools. It was a term used derisively in the 1960’s to describe work that did not adhere to the fashionably pared down kernels of conceptualism or minimalism.
But after seeing the beauty, sensitivity, harmony—the ‘preciousness’—of Italian Renaissance painting—especially the early Renaissance work of artists such as Fra Angelico, Duccio and Simone Martini—I realize that, as artists, we may have abandoned too much. The ever–changing inner light that radiates from gold leaf used judiciously on the surface of a painting, and the use of pockets of rich, intense colors that illuminate the picture’s surface impressed me deeply. It was ‘preciousness’ elevated to grand heights: semi–precious gems such as lapis lazuli, malachite, azurite, etc., were ground up, mixed with egg yolk and applied as paint pigments, producing dazzling, breathtaking colors! The surface of these colors forms a texture that sparkles and reflects light much like gold does, but in ways that are much more subtle than gold.
I look to the early Renaissance as a source of inspiration that I can use along with contemporary content and image making. I look to the Renaissance as the artists of that time looked back to early Greek and Roman art—not as a reactionary but as one who rediscovers and reapplies important but forgotten visual stimuli.”