American Art – Part I of VI: Jim Plesh
In the words of one writer, “Jim Plesh began his creative journey at a very young age. He started drawing and painting as a kid …and never stopped.
A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with additional studies at the Cleveland Art Institute and Cooper School of Art, he began his career as a designer with American Greetings, Cleveland, Ohio. He relocated to Chicago accepting the position of Art Director with Fairfield Publishing and taught painting within the Chicago adult education program before moving to New England where he served as VP / Creative Director for two major publishers.”
From the American History Archives: Nagasaki
9 August 1945 – Part of Nagasaki, Japan is devastated when the American B-29 “Bockscar” drops the atomic bomb “Fat Man” on the city.
Reflections in Summer: E.M. Forster
American Art – Part II of VI: Susannah Israel
Artist Statement: “My work has its source in the fluid nature of experience and the transience of personal history and memory. These gathered images come together like the many variations found in stories of shared experiences. A particular resonance comes from the voices of the beloved dead, who shared these memories and experiences. Hence, though the work is largely elegiac, it also celebrates and honors the living community.”
Reflections in Summer: John Berry
From the Music Archives: Dmitri Shostakovich
Died 9 August 1975 – Dmitri Shostakovich, a Russian composer and pianist.
Reflections in Summer: Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Poem for Today
By Eli Gordon
American Art – Part III of VI: Paul W. McCormack
According to one writer, “Paul W. McCormack was born in Rahway, New Jersey in 1962. He received his formal art training at DuCret School of the Arts where he later became a faculty member. Sharing his knowledge on the fine art of portraiture, he has also been on the faculties of the New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, the Somerset Art Association, and the Newark Museum. Paul is currently teaching workshop intensives at notable institutions, including the Andreeva Portrait Academy, the Bay Area Classical Arts Atelier, and the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Am In Need of Music”
By Elizabeth Bishop
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Japanese painter Atsushi Suwa (born 1967): “Suwa begins by probing and engaging in dialogue with his subjects under a set of conditions he determines. Through the dialogue, he elicits the story, thought, and other elements making up the subject’s background. The process of communication with his subjects is an important factor for Suwa, and signals a break from realism in the classic sense, which does not go beyond the level of visual duplication of the subject.
Suwa’s works are characterized by stunningly beautiful painting, but at the base of his outstanding technique one can glimpse an abiding spirit of respect and feeling of compassion for the subject. While his mental concentration is maintained on a high level of intensity, this sublime humanity seems to interlock with and animate his body, so that he paints as if weaving the thread of life with each stroke. This is precisely why his creations possess the power to move the viewer so deeply.”
Reflections in Summer: Richard P. Feynman
A Third Poem for Today
“The Cold Heaven,”
By William Butler Yeats
Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?
Reflections in Summer: Hermann Hesse
“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.”
American Art – Part IV of VI: Jeffrey T. Larson
In the words of one critic, “Jeffrey T. Larson was born in 1962 in Two Harbors, Minnesota and grew up in the Twin Cities. Jeffrey has been trained in the manner of the Old Masters at the prestigious Atelier Lack, a studio /school whose traditions and training methods reach back through impressionism and the 19th centuries French academies. He followed his four-year formal training with museum study in the United States and abroad.”
“Originality is being different from oneself, not others.” – Philip Larkin, English poet, novelist, and librarian, who was born 9 August 1922.
-I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says “No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel,” not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Reflections in Summer: Robert Louis Stevenson
Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Michael Hlousek-Nagle: “I am an artist based in London. My work adopts the language of the Western figurative tradition in the belief that the depiction of the human being is still relevant, still a source of beauty, and remains a sure way to explore the fundamental questions of life, the joyful spectacle of human failure, love, mischief, violence, and desire. I believe that paint is still a valid resource and a beautiful medium.”
Reflections in Summer: Henry Brooks Adams
A Fourth Poem for Today
“America Talks to Me Like a Mother”
By Catie Rosemurgy
Don’t worry. One kills in dreams
but wakes having not killed.
Having not killed is part of waking. Some mornings, though,
you lay there pinned under layers of light, fear,
and woolen blankets.
You know what’s right and what’s wrong,
what you don’t know is what happened
and if you were actually there.
That’s why dreams of digging a deep hole with a stolen shovel
are so confusing. That’s why you expect to jerk awake
when you stand in a pile of dry brush
holding a lit match in your hand.
The best thing to do, always,
is get up and walk down the stairs.
American Art – Part V of VI: Isaac McCaslin
Painter Isaac McCasling (born 1989) earned a BFA in Painting in 2013 at Savannah College of Art and Design.
Below – “Spectacularly Dying”; “Insect-Like Mutations in a Waiting Room”; “The Collector of Fine Things”; “Treasure Trove”; “The Garden of Delightful Things”; “Borge’s Map”; “Model”; “Painting Painting.”
Reflections in Summer: Joseph Campbell
9 August 1854 – Henry David Thoreau publishes “Walden; or, Life in the Woods,” one of the most inspiring books in the history of world literature.
Some quotes from “Walden”:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer.”
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
Reflections in Summer: Charles Darwin
Back from the Territory – Art: Charlie Jonah
Charlie Jonah is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Hermann Hesse
American Art – Part VI of VI: Bill Crosby
In the words of one writer, “Bill and his wife Pat have lived in the North Country of upstate New York for over forty years. They have three grown children and two grandchildren, and have always had one or more dogs. While continuing to reside in the 1813 stone house which they rebuilt, Pat and Bill have been building a camp/studio/workshop on the coast of Maine since 1989.
Over the years the Adirondacks of New York, the Maine coast, the New England mountains, the Atlantic coast and Alaska have become primary locations for Bill’s photography and painting inspirations. The change of seasons is always a special passage and motivation for new work. The natural landscape of sky, earth and water is a cathedral for life and spirit. Wilderness is both a physical place and a place of mind and spirit. ‘Often my work can be considered as an abstract impression of the landscape. Certainly I think of my paintings and photographs as an interpretative response to the landscape.’”