American Art – Part I of III: Roger Kastel
In the words of one writer, “Roger Kastel, a native of White Plains, New York, began his art career while still in high school, commuting into Manhattan to study at the famed Arts Students League, where other notable alumni included Frederick Remington, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Winslow Homer.”
Happy Birthday, Mr. President
Reflections in Summer: James Dickey
“Art is not escape, but a way of finding order in chaos, a way of confronting life.” – Robert Hayden, American poet, essayist, and educator, who was born 4 August 1913
When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.
Reflections in Summer: Jack Kerouac
Elaborating The American Experience In Song – Part I of IV: Marc Cohn
A Poem for Today
By Theodore Roethke
I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplicaton of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.
Reflections in Summer: Robinson Jeffers
A Second Poem for Today
“A Well-Traveled Coyote”
By Nora Naranjo-Morse
John F. Kennedy
New York City
I saw him across the lobby
Coyote looked in control
fitting right into the city
smiling when a pretty woman passed him
figuring out his flight
making calculations from behind
the ‘New York Times.’
right down to his Tony Lamas
I’d recognize him anywhere
you can dress ’em up
but once a coyote
always a coyote.
American Art – Part II of III: Kathleen Kinkopf
In the words of one critic, “Myths of the Great Goddess teach compassion for all living beings. There you come to appreciate the real sanctity of the earth itself, because it is the body of the Goddess. Although this inventive surrealist often juxtaposes people and objects in thought-provoking relationships, her (recent paintings show that) these relationships have risen to archetypal statements. Using her uniquely personal incantations of earth and sky, Kinkopf (born 1956) explores the physical and spiritual roots of the planet we live on.”
Reflections in Summer: John Ruskin
Elaborating The American Experience In Song – Part II of IV: John Mellencamp
Reflections in Summer: Auguste Rodin
“I invent nothing, I rediscover.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Dutch painter Alwin van der Linde (born 1957): “Creation is a manipulation of energy that has an impact on our surrounding world. Art has a direct influence on the way we live by shaping our environment and thus our future. Art in the future will acquire greater social importance as boundaries between scientific and creative disciplines will dissolve.”
“Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the major English Romantic poets, who was born 4 August 1792.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Elaborating The American Experience In Song – Part III of IV: Bob Seger
Reflections in Summer: Vincent van Gogh
“Normality is a paved road: It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.”
Nobel Laureate: Knut Hamsun
“No worse fate can befall a young man or woman than becoming prematurely entrenched in prudence and negation.” – Knut Hamsun, Norwegian author and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his monumental work, ‘Growth of the Soil,’” who was born on 4 August 1859.
Knut Hamsun was one of the most original and influential authors of his era. (Nobel Laureate) Isaac Bashevis Singer called Hamsun “the father of the modern school of literature in his every aspect—his subjectiveness, his fragmentariness, his use of flashbacks, his lyricism. The whole modern school of fiction in the twentieth century stems from Hamsun,” and (Nobel Laureate) Ernest Hemingway stated that “Hamsun taught me to write.”
Some quotes from the work of Knut Hamsun:
“The intelligent poor individual was a much finer observer than the intelligent rich one. The poor individual looks around him at every step, listens suspiciously to every word he hears from the people he meets; thus, every step he takes presents a problem, a task, for his thoughts and feelings. He is alert and sensitive, he is experienced, his soul has been burned…”
“An increasing number of people who lead mental lives of great intensity, people who are sensitive by nature, notice the steadily more frequent appearance in them of mental states of great strangeness … a wordless and irrational feeling of ecstasy; or a breath of psychic pain; a sense of being spoken to from afar, from the sky or the sea; an agonizingly developed sense of hearing which can cause one to wince at the murmuring of unseen atoms; an irrational staring into the heart of some closed kingdom suddenly and briefly revealed.”
“But now it was spring again, and spring was almost unbearable for sensitive hearts. It drove creation to its utmost limits, it wafted its spice-laden breath even into the nostrils of the innocent.”
“The long, long road over the moors and up into the forest – who trod it into being first of all? Man, a human being, the first that came here. There was no path before he came.”
“I have gone to the forest.”
Reflections in Summer: James Joyce
Elaborating The American Experience In Song – Part IV of IV: Don McLean
A Third Poem for Today
By Mary Oliver
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
even the great whale,
throbs with song.
Reflections in Summer: Anais Nin
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Polish sculptor Marek Zyga: “The works which I present are made of chamotte clay. I am fascinated with is rough structure.
Through impressing, casting, forming I try to obtain its variety.
Looking for ideas, I collect stones, metal scraps, which constitute an inspiration for me. Their randomness makes my works unique. Trying to maintain harmony between used materials, I remember that clay is the most crucial one. I hope that such connection is succesful.
Using pigments, engobes or glazes, I try to make them color coordinated; where there is a visible diversity, I try avoid color clash. The final result means for me giving equal importance to art and craft as well. Content is important for me but I pay the same attention to form.”
From the History Archives: The Great War
4 August 1914 – Germany declares war on Belgium and, in response, Britain declares war on Germany. Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia on 28 July, an act that effectively began World War I, and Germany had already declared war on Russia on 1 August and on France on 3 August. Turkey formally entered the conflict on 28 October, Italy on 23 May 1913, and the United States on 6 April 1917. By the time the hostilities concluded on 11 November 1918, between ten and sixteen million military personnel had been killed, along with seven million civilians. Total casualties – dead, wounded, and missing – amounted to an appalling thirty million human beings.
For a brilliant exposition of both the events leading up to World War I and its earliest stages, I recommend “The Guns of August,” by Barbara Tuchman, which won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. For a richly informative and beautifully written description of the varied, sometimes invisible, and frequently poignant ways that World War I changed the character of Western Civilization, I recommend “The Great War and Modern Memory,” by Paul Fussell, which won both the National Book Award for Arts and Letters and the inaugural National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.
Reflections in Summer: Bruce Chatwin
Back from the Territory – Art: Jim Robb – Part I
In the words of one writer, “Jim Robb has called the Yukon his home for over 50 years. He specializes in recording by camera, ink or watercolour and pastels the “Colourful Five Per Cent”, a phrase he coined to describe the colourful and unusual characters and historical buildings of the North. He defines his drawings as the “exaggerated truth” where shapes, angles, colours and features of his subjects are emphasized and embellished to express their inner strengths and character. Jim uses his keen eye and his familiarity and rapport with his subjects to produce sensitive paintings and photographs.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
From the American Old West: The Indian Wars
4 August – In the words of one historian, “On this day in 1873, (Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong) Custer was far ahead of the rest of the (American military) force, camping along the Tongue River in southeastern Montana. Suddenly, a large band of Sioux warriors appeared on the horizon and attacked. The Indians were led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, but the young braves seemed to have attacked impetuously and with little planning. Custer, who had been taking an afternoon nap, reacted quickly and mounted an effective defense. After a brief skirmish, the Indians withdrew.
Since only one soldier and one Indian were killed in the skirmish, Custer’s short battle along the Tongue River seemed relatively insignificant at the time. However, Custer’s easy escape in his first encounter with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse may have given him a dangerously scornful view of their fighting abilities. It helped to confirm his belief that the Plains warriors tended to flee rather than fight. As a result, when Custer again encountered Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn River three years later, his greatest fear was that they would withdraw before he could attack, and he rushed in without proper reconnaissance. That time, though, the Indians stood and fought, leaving Custer and more than 200 of his men dead.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
A Fourth Poem for Today
“America, I Sing You Back”
By Allison Adelle Hedge Coke
for Phil Young and my father Robert Hedge Coke; for Whitman and Hughes
America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.
Sing back the moment you cherished breath.
Sing you home into yourself and back to reason.
Before America began to sing, I sung her to sleep,
held her cradleboard, wept her into day.
My song gave her creation, prepared her delivery,
held her severed cord beautifully beaded.
My song helped her stand, held her hand for first steps,
nourished her very being, fed her, placed her three sisters strong.
My song comforted her as she battled my reason
broke my long-held footing sure, as any child might do.
As she pushed herself away, forced me to remove myself,
as I cried this country, my song grew roses in each tear’s fall.
My blood-veined rivers, painted pipestone quarries
circled canyons, while she made herself maiden fine.
But here I am, here I am, here I remain high on each and every peak,
carefully rumbling her great underbelly, prepared to pour forth singing—
and sing again I will, as I have always done.
Never silenced unless in the company of strangers, singing
the stoic face, polite repose, polite while dancing deep inside, polite
Mother of her world. Sister of myself.
When my song sings aloud again. When I call her back to cradle.
Call her to peer into waters, to behold herself in dark and light,
day and night, call her to sing along, call her to mature, to envision—
then, she will quake herself over. My song will make it so.
When she grows far past her self-considered purpose,
I will sing her back, sing her back. I will sing. Oh I will—I do.
America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.
American Art – Part III of III: Robert Trondsen
In the words of one writer, “Robert Trondsen received his degree in Advertising Art and Design at the State University of New York and worked as a freelance artist in the advertising field in New York City in the ‘Madmen’ days of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
Starting out as a still life painter, he later turned to landscapes in the tradition of the Hudson Valley School but with a more contemporary painting style. These luminous landscapes border on the ethereal mood of the tonalists.”