American Art – Part I of III: Ira Barkoff
In the words of one writer, “Ira Barkoff, influenced greatly by Monet’s later Water Lily Series, has a wonderful concern for the elements of light and space. It is often commented on how greatly reminiscent his style is to Wolf Kahn; however his sense of space and place is far from that of Kahn. Barkoff’s ability to meld the styles of former mentors and maintain his own sensibilities is a credit to his craft. In depicting even the simplified elements of earth, water, and sky, he is painting ‘about the glory of the real world.”
Reflections in Summer: Marty Rubin
Born 29 June 1858 – George Washington Goethals, a United States Army officer and civil engineer, best known for his administration and supervision of the construction and opening of the Panama Canal. In the words of one historian, “During the Spanish-American War, he was lieutenant colonel and chief of engineers of the United States Volunteers. In 1903, Goethals became a member of the first Army General Staff in Washington, D.C. According to the book ‘The Panama Canal: An Army’s Enterprise,’ Goethals made such an impression on President Taft in D.C. that he later recommended him as an engineer for the Panama Canal. In 1907 US President Theodore Roosevelt appointed George Washington Goethals chief engineer of the Panama Canal. The building of the Canal was completed in 1914, two years ahead of the target date of June 10, 1916.”
Reflections in Summer: Theodore Roosevelt
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Tim Buckley
Died 29 June 1975 – Tim Buckley, an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.
“One eye sees, the other feels.” – Paul Klee, Swiss-German painter, who died 29 June 11940.
A Poem for Today
By Joy Harjo
for Lurline McGregor
Ah, ah cries the crow arching toward the heavy sky over the marina.
Lands on the crown of the palm tree.
Ah, ah slaps the urgent cove of ocean swimming through the slips.
We carry canoes to the edge of the salt.
Ah, ah groans the crew with the weight, the winds cutting skin.
We claim our seats. Pelicans perch in the draft for fish.
Ah, ah beats our lungs and we are racing into the waves.
Though there are worlds below us and above us, we are straight ahead.
Ah, ah tattoos the engines of your plane against the sky—away from these waters.
Each paddle stroke follows the curve from reach to loss.
Ah, ah calls the sun from a fishing boat with a pale, yellow sail. We fly by
on our return, over the net of eternity thrown out for stars.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“What can turn us from this deserted future, back into the sphere of our being, the great dance that joins us to our home, to each other and to other creatures, to the dead and unborn? I think it is love. I am perforce aware how baldly and embarrassingly that word now lies on the page—for we have learned at once to overuse it, abuse it, and hold it in suspicion. But I do not mean any kind of abstract love (adolescent, romantic, or ‘religious’), which is probably a contradiction in terms, but particular love for particular things, places, creatures, and people, requiring stands, acts, showing its successes and failures in practical or tangible effects. And it implies a responsibility just as particular, not grim or merely dutiful, but rising out of generosity. I think that this sort of love defines the effective range of human intelligence, the range within its works can be dependably beneficent. Only the action that is moved by love for the good at hand has the hope of being responsible and generous. Desire for the future produces words that cannot be stood by. But love makes language exact, because one loves only what one knows.”
American Art – Part II of III: James Van Der Zee
Born 29 June 1886 – James Van Der Zee, an African-American photographer best known for his portraits of black New Yorkers. In the words of one historian, “He was a leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Aside from the artistic merits of his work, Van Der Zee produced the most comprehensive documentation of the period. Among his most famous subjects during this time were Marcus Garvey, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and Countee Cullen.”
Reflections in Summer: Helen Keller
A Second Poem for Today
“My Old Shoes”
By Philip Paradis
Sole brothers, homely twins,
they cower in the corner
of the closet, as if knowing
what their chances are
of being asked to go anywhere.
Worn, slightly frazzled, almost
too comfortable and willing
always to go wherever with
only a moment’s notice —
a match for two elderly spinsters.
One brother is holey,
the other owns a loose tongue.
Gone are those days I could go
anywhere with them. When
I would polish their leather
until I could see myself
in their shine. Together,
we would all go out
on the town.
Dutch Art – Part I of II: Andri de Brujin
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Dutch painter Andri de Brujin: “From my early youth drawing and painting became a passion. A week without painting is a lost week. From still life in watercolour, in the beginning, to landscapes in pastel of which I made sketches during my travels, I got more and more portrait tasks. And now about a 150 portraits later I became fascinated by oriental countries, such as China, India, Nepal, Japan, Vietnam and Egypt.
The landscape, culture, the mysticism and living habits which I encounter in these countries buoys me enormously. During each travel I acquire so many impressions that give me inspiration, which I then develop in my workshop.”
Reflections in Summer: E.B. White
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Little Eva
Born 29 June 1943 – Eva Narcissus Boyd, known by the stage name Little Eva, an American singer.
Reflections in Summer: Albert Einstein
Dutch Art – Part II of II: Ger Eikendal
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Dutch painter Ger Eikendal (born 1954): “Torn posters of Hollywood beauties from the past on dilapidated buildings can be interpreted as the passage of beauty and time.”
Reflections in Summer: Rick Yancey
“The spring rains woke the dormant tillers, and bright green shoots sprang from the moist earth and rose like sleepers stretching after a long nap. As spring gave way to summer, the bright green stalks darkened, became tan, turned golden brown. The days grew long and hot. Thick towers of swirling black clouds brought rain, and the brown stems glistened in the perpetual twilight that dwelled beneath the canopy. The wheat rose and the ripening heads bent in the prairie wind, a rippling curtain, an endless, undulating sea that stretched to the horizon.”
“All grown-ups were once children… but only a few of them remember it.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer, poet, pioneering aviator, and author of “The Little Prince,” “Wind, Sand and Stars” (winner of the 1939 U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction), and “Night Flight, who was born 29 June 1900.
Some quotes from the work of Antoine de Saint-Exuperey:
“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
“I looked about me. Luminous points glowed in the darkness. Cigarettes punctuated the humble meditations of worn old clerks. I heard them talking to one another in murmurs and whispers. They talked about illness, money, shabby domestic cares. And suddenly I had a vision of the face of destiny. Old bureaucrat, my comrade, it is not you who are to blame. No one ever helped you to escape. You, like a termite, built your peace by blocking up with cement every chink and cranny through which the light might pierce. You rolled yourself up into a ball in your genteel security, in routine, in the stifling conventions of provincial life, raising a modest rampart against the winds and the tides and the stars. You have chosen not to be perturbed by great problems, having trouble enough to forget your own fate as a man. You are not the dweller upon an errant planet and do not ask yourself questions to which there are no answers. Nobody grasped you by the shoulder while there was still time. Now the clay of which you were shaped has dried and hardened, and naught in you will ever awaken the sleeping musician, the poet, the astronomer that possibly inhabited you in the beginning.”
“‘Goodbye,’ said the fox. ‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’”
“Action and personal happiness have no truck with each other; they are eternally at war.”
“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”
“When I opened my eyes I saw nothing but the pool of nocturnal sky, for I was lying on my back with out-stretched arms, face to face with that hatchery of stars. Only half awake, still unaware that those depths were sky, having no roof between those depths and me, no branches to screen them, no root to cling to, I was seized with vertigo and felt myself as if flung forth and plunging downward like a diver.”
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
“In every crowd are certain persons who seem just like the rest, yet they bear amazing messages.”
“The first stars tremble as if shimmering in green water. Hours must pass before their glimmer hardens into the frozen glitter of diamonds. I shall have a long wait before I witness the soundless frolic of the shooting stars. In the profound darkness of certain nights I have seen the sky streaked with so many trailing sparks that it seemed to me a great gale must be blowing through the outer heavens.”
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they began to see surfaces – meadows widespread, and quiet gardens; and the river itself from bank to bank, all softy disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Stephanie Ryan (Part V)
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 Third Poem for Today
“The Jealousy of Soil”
By Colin Morton
knowing flowers bloom
for any passing eye
while roots only
for the fruit
of all this giving.
The dead only
black and brittle on the stem
trodden to mulch
but the longing
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
American Art – Part III of III: Fred Wessel (Part IV)
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.”