American Art – Part I of IV: Sam Barber
Artist Statement: “Living here [on Cape Cod] offers tremendous changes of light and this affects my paintings. Surrounded by water causes the sky to change from green to green-blue to aqua-light blue sometimes in a matter of minutes. When I came here to study with Henry Hensche I knew right away that this was the place for me and that I would stay.”
“You think you will never forget any of this, you will remember it always just the way it was. But you can’t remember it the way it was. To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. It can return only by surprise. Speaking of these things tells you that there are no words for them that are equal to them or that can restore them to your mind. And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.
But you have a life too that you remember. It stays with you. You have lived a life in the breath and pulse and living light of the present, and your memories of it, remember now, are of a different life in a different world and time. When you remember the past, you are not remembering it as it was. You are remembering it as it is. It is a vision or a dream, present with you in the present, alive with you in the only time you are alive.”
A Poem for Today
“That’s for thoughts”
By Colin Morton
Over summerripe garden —
two weeks and the ripening creepers
have flooded every space with green.
Tomato vines cling to rose canes
and keep climbing,
hide their luscious fruit
between the thorns.
Points scratch the window
and my gloveless hands,
I heap red wilted flowers on the grass
then flood the blind roots with water
splashing from a green translucent hose,
prune back tomato leaves, stake up
smothered in overgrowth.
Reflections in Summer: Vincent van Gogh
“It is good to love many things, for therein lies true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.”
Belgian Art – Part I of II: Peter Paul Rubens
Born 28 June 1577 – Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish painter. In the words of one critic, Rubens was “a proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality. He is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.”
Below – “The Fall of Phaeton”; “The Three Graces”; “Venus at the Mirror”; “Landscape with the Ruins of Mount Palatine in Rome”; “Landscape with Milkmaids and Cattle”; “Venus and Adonis”; “Venus, Cupid, Bacchus, and Ceres”; “The Birth of the Milky Way”; “Self-Portrait.”
Reflections in Summer: Marty Rubin
From the Movie Archives – Part I of II: Mel Brooks
Born 28 June 1926 – Mel Brooks, an American film director, screenwriter, composer, lyricist, comedian, actor, and producer known for his farces and parodies. Mel Brooks has given the world many delightfully witty movies, including “Blazing Saddles,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Spaceballs.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“‘This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,’ whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. ‘Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely.’”
Belgian Art – Part II of II: Henri Puvrez
Died 28 June 1971 – Henri Puvrez, a Belgian sculptor.
Reflections in Summer: Theodore Roosevelt
“Only those who live and sleep in the open fully realize the beauty of dawn and moonlight and starlight.”
From the Movie Archives – Part II of II: Kathy Bates
Born 28 June 1948 – Kathy Bates, an American actress and film director. Bates won the Academy Award for Best Actress and a Golden Globe for her performance in “Misery” (1990).
A Second Poem for Today
“Blackbird on a Windy Day”
By Philip Paradis
Like a salmon fighting falls,
once I shouldered wind,
wrapped in an overcoat
in my private war,
when a blackbird threw itself
up from dried grass, hit
the stiff head wind
and hung there, beating wings–
my spirit cheered.
After a long moment of fists
pounding a door, its spirit
buckled, and I thought all was lost–
but with set wings,
it sailed the wind away.
In the words of one writer, “Deborah Poynton was born in 1970 in Durban and her youth was spent between South Africa, Britain, Swaziland and the United States. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design from 1987 to 1989; since then she has lived and worked in Cape Town, South Africa.”
“Civilization is a hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it produces.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau, influential French philosopher, writer, and composer, who was born 28 June 1712.
In the words of one writer, “Rousseau’s novel ‘Émile, or On Education’ is a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. His sentimental novel ‘Julie, or the New Heloise’ was of importance to the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism in fiction. Rousseau’s autobiographical writings — his ‘Confessions,’ which initiated the modern autobiography, and his ‘Reveries of a Solitary Walker’ — exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the Age of Sensibility, and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing. His ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’ and his ‘On the Social Contract’ are cornerstones in modern political and social thought.”
Some quotes from the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau:
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”
“I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.”
“What wisdom can you find greater than kindness?”
I would rather be a man of paradoxes than a man of prejudices.”
“The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: ‘Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!’”
“To be sane in a world of madman is in itself madness.”
“All my misfortunes come of having thought too well of my fellows.”
“In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much.”
“We have a hunger of the mind which asks for knowledge of all around us, and the more we gain, the more is our desire; the more we see, the more we are capable of seeing.” – Maria Mitchell, the first American female astronomer, who died 28 June 1889. In the words of one historian, “(It was Mitchell) who, in 1847, by using a telescope, discovered a comet which as a result became known as the ‘Miss Mitchell’s Comet.’ She won a gold medal prize for her discovery, which was presented to her by King Frederick VII of Denmark. The medal read, ‘Not in vain do we watch the setting and rising of the stars.’”
Some quotes from Maria Mitchell:
“We travel to learn; and I have never been in any country where they did not do something better than we do it, think some thoughts better than we think, catch some inspiration from heights above our own.”
“Study as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow.”
“The world of learning is so broad, and the human soul is so limited in power! We reach forth and strain every nerve, but we seize only a bit of the curtain that hides the infinite from us.”
“Besides learning to see, there is another art to be learned — not to see what is not.”
“Do not look at stars as bright spots only. Try to take in the vastness of the universe.”
“We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry.”
Reflections in Summer: Elliot Eisner
“Art is literacy of the heart.”
In the words of one writer, “Michael Alford was born in Cookham, England, grew up in Germany and attended Rugby School. His earliest art training came from his father, a colonel in the Royal Engineers, who taught him to draw in perspective from a young age… Known for his ability to blend classical technique with a sharp, modern sensibility, his work can be found in public and private collections around the world.
Michael’s body of work is varied, reflecting his interests in many aspects of life as well as his skill in a variety of media. He is best known for masterful cityscapes of contemporary urban centres such as London, New York and Barcelona. His paintings and drawings of people — men and women, clothed and nude — are highly sought-after for their combination of fine draughtsmanship, acute observation and sense of drama.”
28 June – In the words of one historian, “On this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August. On June 28, 1919, five years to the day after Franz Ferdinand’s death, Germany and the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially marking the end of World War I.”
Died 28 June 1916 – Stefan Luchian, a Romanian painter.
Reflections in Summer: Haruki Murakami
“The whiff of ocean on the southern breeze and the smell of burning asphalt brought back memories of summers past. It had seemed as though those sweet dreams of summer would last forever: the warmth of a girl’s skin, an old rock ‘n’ roll song, freshly washed button-down shirt, the odor of cigarette smoke in a pool changing room, a fleeting premonition. Then one summer (when had it been?) the dreams had vanished, never to return.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Thomas Reis
In the words of one writer, “American Award-winning painter Thomas Reis began work as senior art director for JP Morgan Chase in New York City, shortly after receiving his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1993. His paintings are represented in numerous permanent and private collections throughout the United States. Tom currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.”
Nobel Laureate: Luigi Pirandello
“This is the real drama for me; the belief that we all, you see, think of ourselves as one single person: but it’s not true: each of us is several different people, and all these people live inside us. With one person we seem like this and with another we seem very different. But we always have the illusion of being the same person for everybody and of always being the same person in everything we do. But it’s not true! It’s not true! We find this out for ourselves very clearly when by some terrible chance we’re suddenly stopped in the middle of doing something and we’re left dangling there, suspended. We realize then, that every part of us was not involved in what we’d been doing and that it would be a dreadful injustice of other people to judge us only by this one action as we dangle there, hanging in chains, fixed for all eternity, as if the whole of one’s personality were summed up in that single, interrupted action.” – Luigi Pirandello, Italian dramatist, novelist, poet, short story writer, and recipient of the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature for “bold and brilliant renovation of the drama and the stage,” who was born 28 June 1867.
Some quotes from the work of Luigi Pirandello:
“Our spirits have their own private way of understanding each other, of becoming intimate, while our external persons are still trapped in the commerce of ordinary words, in the slavery of social rules. Souls have their own needs and their own ambitions, which the body ignores when it sees that it’s impossible to satisfy them or achieve them.”
“Inevitably we construct ourselves. Let me explain. I enter this house and immediately I become what I have to become, what I can become: I construct myself. That is, I present myself to you in a form suitable to the relationship I wish to achieve with you. And, of course, you do the same with me.”
“We all grasp on to a single idea of ourselves, the way aging people dye their hair. It’s no matter that this dye doesn’t fool you. My lady, you don’t dye your hair to deceive other people, or to fool yourself, but rather to cheat your image in your mirror a little.”
“If only we could see in advance all the harm that can come from the good we think we are doing.”
“But only in order to know if you, as you really are now, see yourself as you once were with all the illusions that were yours then, with all the things both inside and outside of you as they seemed to you – as they were then indeed for you. Well, sir, if you think of all those illusions that mean nothing to you now, of all those things which don’t even seem to you to exist any more, while once they were for you, don’t you feel that – I won’t say these boards – but the very earth under your feet is sinking away from you when you reflect that in the same way this you as you feel it today – all this present reality of yours – is fated to seem a mere illusion to you tomorrow?”
Reflections in Summer: E.B. White
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“Neither had any desire for talk; the glow and glory of existing on this perfect morning were satisfaction full and sufficient.”
“Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave irrationally in the name of reason.” – Ashley Montagu, English-born American anthropologist and humanist, who was born 28 June 1905.
Some quotes from the work of Ashley Montagu:
“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.”
“Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.”
“The family is the basis of society. As the family is, so is the society, and it is human beings who make a family-not the quantity of them, but the quality of them.”
“Unfortunately, we – especially in the United States – have become increasingly mechanized, so that today we feel very strongly that if we can take anything out of human hands and especially out of the human heart and put it through a machine, we have made progress. Indeed, we flatter ourselves that we can make machines that think like human beings, while not always pausing to reflect that in the process we have also succeeded in making millions of human beings who can feel and think like machines. It is a sorry reflection.”
“‘The Good Book’ – one of the most remarkable euphemisms ever coined.”
“One goes through school, college, medical school and one’s internship learning little or nothing about goodness but a good deal about success.”
“Girls marry for love. Boys marry because of a chronic irritation that causes them to gravitate in the direction of objects with certain curvilinear properties.”
“The cultured man is an artist, an artist in humanity.”
“Hell has been described as a pocket edition of Chicago.”
“It is work, work that one delights in, that is the surest guarantor of happiness. But even here it is a work that has to be earned by labor in one’s earlier years. One should labor so hard in youth that everything one does subsequently is easy by comparison.”
“The deepest personal defeat suffered by human beings is constituted by the difference between what one was capable of becoming and what one has in fact become.”
“The world is so full of wonderful things we should all, if we were taught how to appreciate it, be far richer than kings.”
“The idea is to die young as late as possible.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Andrea Kemp
Artist Statement: “The inspiration for my paintings comes from all around me. Sometimes it can be as simple as a color, other times it can be the way two people are interacting. Whatever it might be, it is used as a building block for the piece. That is when creating an environment that will compliment, emphasize, or perhaps downplay my motive becomes so important to executing that vision. When working through a painting I have experience and tools to use that I have acquired from my past work, but never is the path completely the same. There are always unexpected obstacles that arise. Those little and big bumps give me the opportunity to truly be creative. To create the impossible and let the magic take hold.”
From the American Old West: Texas Jack Omohundro
Died 28 June 1880 – John Baker “Texas Jack” Omohundro, an American frontier scout, cowboy, and actor.
In 1869, Texas Jack Omohundro (born 1846) served with William “Buffalo Bill” Cody as a scout and buffalo hunter, and in 1872 he joined Cody in Chicago to act in “The Scouts of the Prairie,” one of the original Wild West shows produced by Ned Buntline. Texas Jack was the first performer to introduce roping acts to the American stage, and during the 1873-74 season, he and Cody invited their friend James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok to join them in a new play called “Scouts of the Plains.”
Below – John Baker Omohundro; (left to right) Ned Buntline, Buffalo Bill Cody, Giuseppina Morlacchi (Omohundro’s wife, a dancer and actress from Milan, Italy, who introduced can-can to the American stage), Texas Jack Omohundro; (left to right) Wild Bill Hickok, Texas Jack Omohundro, Buffalo Bill Cody.
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
Back from the Territory – Art: Stephanie Ryan (Part IV)
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
By Robinson Jeffers
In scornful upright loneliness they stand,
Counting themselves no kin of anything
Whether of earth or sky. Their gnarled roots cling
Like wasted fingers of a clutching hand
In the grim rock. A silent spectral band
They watch the old sky, but hold no communing
With aught. Only, when some lone eagle’s wing
Flaps past above their grey and desolate land,
Or when the wind pants up a rough-hewn glen,
Bending them down as with an age of thought,
Or when, ‘mid flying clouds that can not dull
Her constant light, the moon shines silver, then
They find a soul, and their dim moan is wrought
Into a singing sad and beautiful.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
American Art – Part IV of IV: Fred Wessel (Part III)
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.”
Below (from the “Flowers” collection) – “Venetian Icon (Ginger)”; “Venetian Icon (Orchid)”; “Sienese Icon (Dahlia)”; “Sienese Icon (Amarylus)”; “Predella Calla Lilies”; “Gloxinia.”