American Art – Part I of IV: Tom Reed
In the words of one writer, “Tom Reed is a painter and master printer. Reed, in addition to being a working artist, is a senior lecturer at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. Reed’s artwork is rustic in appearance and in mood. It is often characterized by colorfully muted tree stumps, teepees, totem poles, and flowers. Instead of a blank canvas, Reed begins most of his paintings on pages torn out of coloring books or word finds because he ‘likes to start his work with a dialogue.’ Then from this unconventional beginning, he transforms these pages into beautifully stylized panels that can tell a story with just one image.”
A Poem for Today
“I Think Continually of Those Who Were Truly Great”
By Stephen Spender
I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the Spirit.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are feted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“Books, I found, had the power to make time stand still, retreat or fly into the future.” Jim Bishop, American journalist and author, who died 26 July 1987.
Some quotes from the work of Jim Bishop:
“At 19, everything is possible and tomorrow looks friendly.”
“Watching your daughter being collected by her date feels like handing over a million dollar Stradivarius to a gorilla.”
“Golf is played by twenty million mature American men whose wives think they are out having fun.”
“It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.”
“Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been.”
“Nobody understands anyone 18, including those who are 18.”
“The future is an opaque mirror. Anyone who tries to look into it sees nothing but the dim outlines of an old and worried face.”
Died 26 July 2011 – Margaret Olley, an Australian painter.
Reflections in Summer: Michelle Franklin
Nobel Laureate: George Bernard Shaw
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, co-founder of the London School of Economics, literary critic, essayist, novelist, journalist, socialist, vegetarian, short story writer, and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty,” who was born 26 July 1856.
Some quotes from the work of George Bernard Shaw:
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
“Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself.”
“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.”
“When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part.”
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
“My way of joking is to tell the truth. It’s the funniest joke in the world.”
“‘I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend … if you have one.’ – George Bernard Shaw, to Winston Churchill
‘Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.’
— Winston Churchill’s response.”
“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it.”
Reflections in Summer: Theodore Roosevelt
“There must be absolute religious liberty, for tyranny and intolerance are as abhorrent in matters intellectual and spiritual as in matters political and material; and more and more we must all realize that conduct is of infinitely greater importance than dogma.”
Francis Picabia (1879-1953) was a French artist and poet who experimented with a variety of painting styles.
A Second Poem for Today
“The Robots are Coming”
By Kyle Dargan
with clear-cased woofers for heads,
no eyes. They see us as a bat sees
a mosquito—a fleshy echo,
a morsel of sound. You’ve heard
their intergalactic tour busses
purring at our stratosphere’s curb.
They await counterintelligence
transmissions from our laptops
and our blue teeth, await word
of humanity’s critical mass,
our ripening. How many times
have we dreamed it this way:
the Age of the Machines,
postindustrial terrors whose
tempered paws—five welded fingers
—wrench back our roofs,
siderophilic tongues seeking blood,
licking the crumbs of us from our beds.
O, great nation, it won’t be pretty.
What land will we now barter
for our lives ? A treaty inked
in advance of the metal ones’ footfall.
Give them Gary. Give them Detroit,
Pittsburgh, Braddock—those forgotten
nurseries of girders and axels.
Tell the machines we honor their dead,
distant cousins. Tell them
we tendered those cities to repose
out of respect for welded steel’s
bygone era. Tell them Ford
and Carnegie were giant men, that war
glazed their palms with gold.
Tell them we soft beings mourn
manufacture’s death as our own.
Reflections in Summer: Knut Hamsun
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley, English writer, humanist, pacifist, satirist, and author of “Brave New World” and “The Doors of Perception,” who was born 26 July 1894.
Some quotes from the work of Aldous Huxley:
“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives, that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.”
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
“An intellectual is a person who has discovered something more interesting than sex.”
“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”
“Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.”
“Chronic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing. Rolling in the muck is not the best way of getting clean.”
“Every man’s memory is his private literature.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Cassandra Gillens
In the words of one critic, “Cassandra Gillens is a self-taught artist, residing in the Low Country of South Carolina, an area she cherishes. Born and educated in Boston, Massachusetts, her earliest memories are drawing with colored chalks on the sidewalks of Roxbury, Massachusetts. The memories remained a part of her when she began to paint images depicting her early childhood years in South Carolina. Upon her return, she was moved to paint her visions of the Low Country’s comforting southern culture.
Cassandra is closely connected with the people and culture in this beautiful and historic land; her paintings depict some of her fondest memories as a child, and also of good old southern living and images of various life styles found on the Sea Islands. Her paintings show that love with vivid saturated color and simplification of forms keeping her true to the style of fauvism.”
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.”
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Sam Houston
“All new states are invested, more or less, by a class of noisy, second-rate men who are always in favor of rash and extreme measures, but Texas was absolutely overrun by such men.” – Sam Houston, American politician and soldier best known for his role in bringing Texas into the United States as a constituent state. He was also the only American to be elected governor of two different states (Tennessee and Texas) and the only Southern governor to oppose secession – an act for which he was removed from office. Houston died on 26 July 1863.
Some quotes from the work of Sam Houston:
“I would give no thought of what the world might say of me, if I could only transmit to posterity the reputation of an honest man.”
“The benefits of education and of useful knowledge, generally diffused through a community, are essential to the preservation of a free government.”
“I preferred measuring deer tracks to tape – that I liked the wild liberty of the Red men better then the tyranny of my brothers.”
“To secede from the Union and set up another government would cause war. If you go to war with the United States, you will never conquer her, as she has the money and the men. If she does not whip you by guns, powder, and steel, she will starve you to death. It will take the flower of the country — the young men.”
“I am aware that in presenting myself as the advocate of the Indians and their rights, I shall stand very much alone.”
A Third Poem for Today
“To Whistler, American,”
By Ezra Pound
On the loan exhibit of his paintings at the Tate Gallery
You also, our first great,
Had tried all ways;
Tested and pried and worked in many fashions,
And this much gives me heart to play the game.
Here is a part that’s slight, and part gone wrong,
And much of little moment, and some few
Perfect as Dürer!
“In the Studio” and these two portraits, if I had my choice I
And then these sketches in the mood of Greece?
You had your searches, your uncertainties,
And this is good to know—for us, I mean,
Who bear the brunt of our America
And try to wrench her impulse into art.
You were not always sure, not always set
To hiding night or tuning “symphonies”;
Had not one style from birth, but tried and pried
And stretched and tampered with the media.
You and Abe Lincoln from that mass of dolts
Show us there’s chance at least of winning through.
Reflections in Summer: James Dent
“The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.” – Robert Graves, English poet, scholar, translator, and author of “Good-Bye to All That” and “The White Goddess,” who was born 26 July 1895.
Robert Graves wrote his autobiography “Good-Bye to All That” when he was thirty-four, stating in the prologue that, “It was my bitter leave-taking of England.” In the course of his narrative, he reveals the immense disparity between lofty patriotic rhetoric and the grim actualities of modern warfare. He also describes how, along with millions of human beings, Victorian social norms and British optimism died in the trenches of the Western Front.
Some quotes from the work of Robert Graves:
“There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either.”
“In love as in sport, the amateur status must be strictly maintained.”
“The function of poetry is religious invocation of the muse; its use is the experience of mixed exaltation and horror that her presence excites.”
“Poetry is no more a narcotic than a stimulant; it is a universal bittersweet mixture for all possible household emergencies and its action varies accordingly as it is taken in a wineglass or a tablespoon, inhaled, gargled or rubbed on the chest by hard fingers covered with rings.”
“Because the world is in a sick condition and we are all somehow infected, against our will, even if we think we are whole in mind and soul and body.”
“‘Genius’ was a word loosely used by expatriate Americans in Paris and Rome, between the Versailles Peace treaty and the Depression, to cover all varieties of artistic, literary and musical experimentalism. A useful and readable history of the literary Thirties is Geniuses Together by Kay Boyle-Joyce, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Pound, Eliot and the rest. They all became famous figures but too many of them developed defects of character-ambition, meanness, boastfulness, cowardice or inhumanity-that defrauded their early genius. Experimentalism is a quality alien to genius. It implies doubt, hope, uncertainty, the need for group reassurance; whereas genius works alone, in confidence of a foreknown result. Experiments are useful as a demonstration of how not to write, paint or compose if one’s interest lies in durable rather than fashionable results; but since far more self-styled artists are interested in frissons á la mode rather than in truth, it is foolish to protest. Experimentalism means variation on the theme of other people’s uncertainties.”
“Cuinchy (a city in northeast France) bred rats. They came up from the canal, fed on the plentiful corpses, and multiplied exceedingly. While I stayed here with the Welsh, a new officer joined the company… When he turned in that night, he heard a scuffling, shone his torch on the bed, and found two rats on his blanket tussling for the possession of a severed hand.”
“Poets can’t march in protest or do that sort of thing. I feel that’s against the rules, and pointless. If mankind wants a great big final bang, that’s what it’ll get. One should never protest against anything unless it’s going to have an effect. None of those marches do. One should either be silent or go straight to the top.”
Reflections in Summer: Lev Grossman
“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Michael Klein
I wept in a stable.
I found money in the dirt.
I reenacted a car accident in the tack room.
I asked a horse van driver to let me off where the bridle path stopped.
I looked at the jockey for what he was dreaming.
I told him he was wrong about making things happen.
He couldn’t make things happen.
I couldn’t make things happen anymore.
There is exactly not enough money in the world.
Magical thinking got me where I am today.
Animals are warriors of time.
I stopped keeping things hidden.
That wasn’t a horse we saw in the winner’s circle.
I can’t stop horses as much as you can’t stop horses.
Reflections in Summer: Aimee Friedman
“We owe to the Middle Ages the two worst inventions of humanity – gunpowder and romantic love.” – Andre Maurois, French author, who was born 26 July 1885.
Some quotes from the work of Andre Maurois:
“In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.”
“Often we allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over grievances that, in a year’s time, will be forgotten by us and by everybody. No, let us devote our life to worthwhile actions and feelings, to great thoughts, real affections and enduring undertakings.”
“Happiness is never there to stay … Happiness is merely a respite offered by inquietude.”
“The reading of a fine book is an uninterrupted dialogue in which the book speaks and our soul replies.”
“Two human beings anchored to one another are like two ships shaken by waves; their carcasses collide with one another and creak.”
“Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words: I do not know.”
“Every ten years you should delete from your mind a few ideas that your experience has proven to be false, dangerous.”
“The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one’s encounter with it in a book. ”
“Yet had Fleming not possessed immense knowledge and an unremitting gift of observation he might not have observed the effect of the hyssop mould. ‘Fortune,’ remarked Pasteur, ‘favors the prepared mind.’”
“Old age is far more than white hair, wrinkles, the feeling that it is too late and the game is finished, that the stage belongs to the rising generations. The true evil is not the weakening of the body, but the indifference of the soul.”
“Smile, for everyone lacks self-confidence and more than any other one thing a smile reassures them.”
American Art – Part III of IV: George Catlin
Born 26 July 1796 – George Catlin, an American painter who specialized in portraits of Native Americans in the Old West.
Below – “Buffalo Bull, a Grand Pawnee Warrior”; “Prairie Meadows Burning”; “Buffalo Hunt under the Wolf-skin Mask”; “Ball-play of the Choctaw – Ball up”; “Brick Kilns, Clay Bluffs 1900 Miles above St. Louis”; “Four Bears, Second Chief, in Full Dress” (Mandan); “Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe” (Blackfoot); “Comanche Feats of Horsemanship”; “Woman with Her Child in a Cradle” (Ojibwe/Chippewa); “Interior View of the Medicine Lodge, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony”; “Black Hawk, Prominent Sac Chief”; “The Watchful Fox, Chief of the Tribe” (Sac and Fox); “Black Drink, a Warrior of Great Distinction” (Seminole); “Scalp Dance, Sioux”; “Little Bear, Steep Wind, The Dog; Three Distinguished Warriors of the Sioux Tribe.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“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 Fifth Poem for Today
“The Light By The Barn”
By William Stafford
The light by the barn that shines all night
pales at dawn when a little breeze comes.
A little breeze comes breathing the fields
from their sleep and waking the slow windmill.
The slow windmill sings the long day
about anguish and loss to the chickens at work.
The little breeze follows the slow windmill
and the chickens at work till the sun goes down–
Then the light by the barn again.
Back from the Territory – Art: Abe Simionie
Abe Simionie is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Thornton Wilder
“Traveler, there is no path.
The path is made by walking.
Traveller, the path is your tracks
And nothing more.
Traveller, there is no path
The path is made by walking.
By walking you make a path
And turning, you look back
At a way you will never tread again
Traveller, there is no road
Only wakes in the sea.” – “XXIX, from “Border of a Dream: Selected Poems,” by Antonio Machado, Spanish poet, who was born 26 July 1875.
Some quotes from the work of Antonio Machado:
“Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error! —
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my failures.”
“My philosophy is fundamentally sad, but I’m not a sad man, and I don’t believe I sadden anyone else. In other words, the fact that I don’t put my philosophy into practice saves me from its evil spell, or, rather, my faith in the human race is stronger then my intellectual analysis of it; there lies the fountain of youth in which my heart is continually bathing.”
“Death is something we shouldn’t fear because, while we are, death isn’t, and when death is, we aren’t.”
“Don’t trace out your profile–
forget your side view–
all that is outer stuff.
Look for your other half
who walks always next to you
and tends to be who you aren’t.”
“I Have Walked Down Many Roads”
I have walked down many roads
and cleared many paths;
I have navigated a hundred oceans
and anchored off a hundred shores.
All over, I have seen
caravans of sadness,
pompous and melancholy men
drunk with black shadows,
and defrocked pedants
who stare, keep quiet, and think
they know, because they don’t
drink wine in the neighborhood bars.
Bad people who go around
polluting the earth . . .
And all over, I have seen
people who dance or play,
when they can, and work
their four handfuls of land.
If they turn up someplace,
they never ask where they are.
When they travel, they ride
on the backs of old mules,
and don’t know how to hurry,
not even on holidays.
When there’s wine, they drink wine;
when there’s no wine, they drink cool water.
In the words of one writer, “Ellen Jantzen blurs the definition of photography. Her work explores the states of reality: how it is experienced and revealed. To depict something so abstract is, unsurprisingly, no easy task. Jantzen’s photographic series relies on the trust people place in the medium. She digitally reconstructs her photographs, pushing them to more ambiguous forms, allowing viewers space to project their own imaginings and meanings to them. In doing so, she is able to make visual that which has no visual component. She takes viewers beyond the surface of an image, where something deeper and unexpected is revealed.”