American Art – Part I of IV: Oana Lauric
Artist Statement: “Architectural subjects and emotional memories remain the foundation of my work. Illumination is the guiding line, with its double meaning: one direct (light and shadow defining the volumes and conveying atmospheric moods) the other one more abstract (spiritual enlightenment). In my paintings I approach them both. In our daily lives we are constantly on a scene, brilliantly performing simple and mysterious rites. The way the light is sculpting, with dramatic effects, the characters of this theatrical scene is at the core of my artistic exploration.”
A Poem for Today
By David M. Starkey
Cowboy’s slouching cool
in the theater,
flicking his lighter,
when the strings rise up
The serrated wheel
against his thumb,
like a sliver
before it skips the skin
of a farm pond.
He remembers the broth
she’d serve on Sundays,
so hot it burned
his tongue, cornflowers
on the kitchen table.
There are only men
in this dark, coughing
impatiently, but Cowboy
is holding her hand
beneath the acacia tree
in early evening,
the very air so sweet
it smells like fresh cologne.
“We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.” – Phyllis Dorothy James, English crime writer, life peer in the House of Lords, and author of “The Children of Men,” who was born 3 August 1820.
Some quotes from the work of P. D. James:
“We English are good at forgiving our enemies; it releases us from the obligation of liking our friends.”
“Time didn’t heal, but it anesthetized. The human mind could only feel so much.”
“Not so much two ships passing in the night as two ships sailing together for a time but always bound for different ports.”
“Perhaps it’s only when people are dead that we can safely show how much we cared about them. We know that it’s too late then for them to do anything about it.”
“If our sex life were determined by our first youthful experiments, most of the world would be doomed to celibacy. In no area of human experience are human beings more convinced that something better can be had only if they persevere.”
“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”
“If from infancy you treat children as gods, they are liable in adulthood to act as devils.”
“‘But what do you believe? I don’t just mean religion. What are you sure of?’
‘That once I was not and that now I am. That one day I shall no longer be.’”
Reflections in Summer: Jack Kerouac
In the words of one critic, “Nick Mackman is a sculptor of one-off clay animal models. She has been widely exhibited and in 2010 she won the Open Category in the Wildlife Artist of the Year competition. Most of her pieces are Raku fired, giving a rich but natural crackle glaze. Drawing on her experience as a rhino keeper and on safari, she aims to get under the skin of the animal, giving each animal sculpture its own personality. Many of her subjects are highly endangered and she aims to enlighten us to their beauty, humour and tenderness, even though they may be largely perceived as ugly or aggressive. She lives in Devon, in South West England, with her husband, twin children and two dogs.”
Reflections in Summer: Leonardo da Vinci
3 August 1492 – In the words of one historian, “From the Spanish port of Palos, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sets sail in command of three ships—the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nina—on a journey to find a western sea route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.”
“During the work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson, French photographer considered to be the father of photojournalism, who died 3 August 2004. In the words of one historian, “He was an early adopter of 35 mm format, and the master of candid photography. He helped develop the street photography or life reportage style that was coined The Decisive Moment that has influenced generations of photographers who followed.”
“I Forget the Date”
By Juan Felipe Herrera
I forget the date:
en route to Austin, Texas: soda on tray.
Women at the computer, mexicanas
learning to read and write at the same time,
a workshop, we exchange stories
Chihuahua—I think of my father, for a moment—
I see him again, robust, alone, walks to the park,
the heat dissolves the avenues.
The Nomenclature cuts across the Arctic:
snare the oil, gas lines, install the stations,
derricks and surveillance towers, surveys, documents,
Carry this microscopic fissure
into South Asia. Diplomats—they say,
so many teams of men, they orbit in silence and
loud vests and helmets, they stoop with a sweetness
and sift the granules, then, they rise,
oblong, hunched, on fire,
ready to dig into the ice, a new boundary for the national vortex,
this undeclared war; the almost-uttered war, this war begins,
listen. Listen closely—
Reflections in Summer: Rumi
American Art – Part II of IV: Augustus Saint-Gaudens
Died 3 August 1907 – Augustus Saint-Gaudens, an American sculptor of the Beaux-Arts generation who embodied the ideals of the “American Renaissance.”
Below – “Robert Gould Shaw Memorial” (Boston Common; it commemorates Shaw and the Afro-American 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry); “Standing Lincoln” (in Lincoln Park, Chicago); “Parnell Memorial” (Dublin); “Adams Memorial” (Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.); “Diana” (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City).
“Poetry is the art of saying what you mean but disguising it.” – Diane
Wakoski, American poet and author of “The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems,” who was born 3 August 1937.
Can these movements which move themselves
be the substance of my attraction?
Where does this thin green silk come from that covers my body?
Surely any woman wearing such fabrics
would move her body just to feel them touching every part of her.
Yet most of the women frown, or look away, or laugh stiffly.
They are afraid of these materials and these movements
in some way.
The psychologists would say they are afraid of themselves, somehow.
Perhaps awakening too much desire—
that their men could never satisfy?
So they keep themselves laced and buttoned and made up
in hopes that the framework will keep them stiff enough not to feel
the whole register.
In hopes that they will not have to experience that unquenchable
desire for rhythm and contact.
If a snake glided across this floor
most of them would faint or shrink away.
Yet that movement could be their own.
That smooth movement frightens them—
awakening ancestors and relatives to the tips of the arms and toes.
So my bare feet
and my thin green silks
my bells and finger cymbals
offend them—frighten their old-young bodies.
While the men simper and leer—
glad for the vicarious experience and exercise.
They do not realize how I scorn them;
or how I dance for their frightened,
Reflections in Summer: E. L. Doctorow
A Third Poem for Today
By Tyler Ford
do you remember the first time you were called annoying?
how your breath stopped short in your chest
the way the light drained from your eyes, though you knew your cheeks were ablaze
the way your throat tightened as you tried to form an argument that got lost on your tongue?
your eyes never left the floor that day.
you were 13.
you’re 20 now, and i still see the light fade from your eyes when you talk about your interests for “too long,”
apologies littering every other sentence,
words trailing off a cliff you haven’t jumped from in 7 years.
i could listen to you forever, though i know speaking for more than 3 uninterrupted minutes makes you anxious.
all i want you to know is that you deserve to be heard
for 3 minutes
for 10 minutes
for 2 hours
there will be people who cannot handle your grace, your beauty, your wisdom, your heart;
mostly because they can’t handle their own. but you will never be
and have never been
Reflections in Summer: Anne Sexton
Died 3 August 1944 (in Auschwitz) – Felix Nussbaum, a German painter.
Nobel Laureate: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist, historian, critic of Soviet totalitarianism, author of “The Gulag Archipelago” and “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” and recipient of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature,” who died 3 August 2008.
Some quotes from the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:
“It’s an universal law– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”
“Own only what you can always carry with you: know languages, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.”
“When you’re cold, don’t expect sympathy from someone who’s warm.”
“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power—he’s free again.”
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
“Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career.”
“What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I’ll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary -property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life -don’t be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn for happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn’t last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides. If your back isn’t broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why? Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart – and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it may be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory.”
“The meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering but in the development of the soul.”
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Hungarian painter Agnes Toth (born 1981): “A walk. The path I take towards a certain point is arbitrary. I haven’t plotted the route, but my pace and manner of progress along it, I have. I don’t exclude information that may come my way, and I reserve the right to alter the route. Between A and B points the most boring path is straight.
Early on, I became aware of an instinctive ’law’ governing my calling in life: the priority of Painting. Not in a hierarchical, but in a symbiotic way. Absolute evidence, as oil is on canvas. Without doubt.
Exaggeration doesn’t attract me; what I am drawn to is what I feel is true. The work I value most is that which emerges honestly and without being forced. This is the origin of my belonging to realism. Representation of reality is a responsibility, because the eye sees the things it knows, or thinks it knows. In fact, in my works this reality is a pseudo-reality. In my paintings reality moves on several levels – this is the relativity of reality.”
“My daily activities are not unusual,
I’m just naturally in harmony with them.
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing…
Supernatural power and wondrous activity –
Drawing water and carrying firewood.” – Pang-yun, better known as Layman Pang, a lay Buddhist in the Chinese Chan (Zen) tradition, who died 3 August 808. In the words of one historian, “Pang is considered a model of the potential of the non-monastic Buddhist follower to live an exemplary Buddhist life.”
Another quote from Layman Pang:
“When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy or wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Kim Roberti
Artist Statement: “I love painting…it’s my life! I love the endless series of tasks exploring the abstract elements of lines, shapes, values, colors, textures and edges!
Looking for the right lively-hood and wanting to work with something I really, really love and the desire to reconnect with my childhood joy, I found painting. I have made painting my full time job since 2000. I have tried every medium and genre, and find that I love them all. It is a wonderful journey of self-discovery.”
Reflections in Summer: Jack Kerouac
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Our Cat’s Fascination With Water”
By Al Zolynas
I wake to his weight on my chest, his half-closed eyes saying it’s
time to get up, human. in the bathroom, I turn on the faucet in the
tub for him, the way I have most mornings the last two years. He
jumps in. The black flames of his eyes widen. Again, he can’t
believe it, can’t believe the silver chord hanging from the silver
faucet, can’t believe he lives in a world that gives him the same,
new gift each morning; can’t believe it, so he has to touch it, and
then can’t believe his paw goes right through it, and has to touch it
again and again; and 1, looking at his lost eyes, the wet paw,
the tail flicking on the white porcelain, my untouchable other self
on the silver surface of the mirror, can’t believe it either.
“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.” – Joseph Conrad, Polish-English writer and author of “Heart of Darkness,” “Lord Jim,” and “Nostromo,” who died 3 August 1924.
In the words of one critic, “(Conrad) wrote stories and novels, often with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an indifferent universe. He was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English tragic sensibility into English literature.”
Some quotes from the work of Joseph Conrad:
“It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.”
“I don’t like work–no man does–but I like what is in the work–the chance to find yourself. Your own reality–for yourself not for others–what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.”
“Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream–making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams…No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence–that which makes its truth, its meaning–its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream-alone.”
“Of all the inanimate objects, of all men’s creations, books are the nearest to us for they contain our very thoughts, our ambitions, our indignations, our illusions, our fidelity to the truth, and our persistent leanings to error. But most of all they resemble us in their precious hold on life.”
“Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.”
“Your strength is just an accident owed to the weakness of others.”
“Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of inextinguishable regrets.”
“We live in the flicker — may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday.”
“Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Bobby Ilisituk
Bobby Ilisituk is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Wright Morris
“There’s little to see, but things leave an impression. It’s a matter of time and repetition. As something old wears thin or out, something new wears in. The handle on the pump, the crank on the churn, the dipper floating in the bucket, the latch on the screen, the door on the privy, the fender on the stove, the knees of the pants and the seat of the chair, the handle of the brush and the lid to the pot exist in time but outside taste; they wear in more than they wear out. It can’t be helped. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s the nature of life.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Jim Harrison
Back in the blue chair in front of the green studio
another year has passed, or so they say, but calendars lie.
They’re a kind of cosmic business machine like
their cousin clocks but break down at inopportune times.
Fifty years ago I learned to jump off the calendar
but I kept getting drawn back on for reasons
of greed and my imperishable stupidity.
Of late I’ve escaped those fatal squares
with their razor-sharp numbers for longer and longer.
I had to become the moving water I already am,
falling back into the human shape in order
not to frighten my children, grandchildren, dogs and friends.
Our old cat doesn’t care. He laps the water where my face used to be.
Reflections in Summer: Aldo Leopold
American Art – Part IV of IV: Marie Fischer
Artist Marie Fischer is best known for her lively and whimsical figurative paintings.