August Offerings – Part XXVIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Susan Wiggin

Artist Statement: “Our home sits on the eastern edge of a bowl perched upon the side of a mountain. On a clear day you can see nearly a hundred miles. The weather comes from the west. Clouds move across this vast space towards us, piling against the mountains behind. There is time to study an approaching storm. Light is the variable element. It is the verb, revealing and concealing endless detail. This direct observation of the landscape provides the primary motif for my paintings and monoprints. My intention is to hold a moment.”

Below – “Fleeting”; “Suspended”; “River Wide”; “Peach Trees”; “Dashing Clouds”; “Lake Light.”
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Literary Giants – Part I of II: Goethe

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, statesman, and author of several great and influential works, including “The Sorrows of Young Werther” and “Faust,” who was born 28 August 1749.

Some quotes from the work of Goethe:

“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
“If you’ve never eaten while crying, you don t know what life tastes like.”
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”
“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”
“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”
“Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.”
“By seeking and blundering we learn.”
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”
“There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.”
“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers & cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”
“Nothing is worth more than this day.”
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Here is one critic describing the artistry of Russian-born painter Dima Dmitriev: “Dmitriev’s paintings represent forms of ‘visual paradise.’ He describes this as the process of extracting the color, light, and texture from real places and distilling these onto his canvases as idealized worlds. Dima rarely uses a brush. His preferred tool is the palette knife. Dmitriev also adds depth and color saturation to some of his works by starting with black, rather than the traditional white, canvas. Dima’s Impressionistic composition and style combined with his mastery of the palette knife create oil paintings that are vibrant and sculptural. His works often include themes of childhood, nature and the sea.”

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Literary Giants – Part II of II: Tolstoy

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Russian writer, philosopher, political thinker, and author of the masterpieces “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina,” who was born 28 August (O.S.) 18928.

Some quotes from the work of Leo Tolstoy:

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”
“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
“Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed. ”
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.”
“All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.”
“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.”
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.”
“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor — such is my idea of happiness.”
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Reflections in Summer: Matthew Arnold

“Life is not a having and a getting, but a being and a becoming.”

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Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Vivian Thierfelder: “In choosing the subjects for my latest works, I have concentrated on the linear aspects of flowers and still life, allowing colour and form to emerge with the use of strong natural light and often employing elements of chiaroscuro. Contrast heightens the impact for the viewer and reveals the objects – flowers, glass or metallics to their best advantage. I have a fascination with light playing on various textures (petals, leaves, cloth), reflective surfaces (brass, steel) and densities (water, glass). A secondary motif that I explore at times is colour-related borders ‘imposed’ on the works, creating a kind of window, adding energy and an element of mystery. I find it quite magical – the manner in which a brush, pigments and paper can create a ‘reality’: the illusion of three dimensions in two. I hope you enjoy these works and feel the same sense of wonder that I did in creating them.”
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A Poem for Today

“Confusing Weather”
By Joshua Mehigan

The sun came to in late December. Spring
Seemed just the thing that flattered into bloom
The murdered shrubs along the splintered fence.
The awnings sagged with puddles. Roads were streams.
Wet leaves in sheets streaked everything with rust.
The man who raked his lawn transferred a toad
Too small to be a toad back to the woodpile.
In the countryside, he thought he spied the trust
That perished from his day to day relations.

His head was like a shoebox of old pictures,
Each showing in the background, by some fluke,
Its own catastrophe: divorce, lost friends,
A son whose number he could not recall—
This weather, nothing but a second fall,
Ending, if somewhat late, just how fall ends.
Each day that week he sat outside awhile
And watched his shadow lengthen, disappear.
Then winter followed through its machinations,
Crept up and snapped the green head off the year.

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From the American History Archives – Part I of II: St. Augustine, Florida

28 August 1585 – The Spanish establish St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest continuously occupied European-founded settlement in the continental United States. For comparison, Jamestown was founded in 1607 and Plymouth Colony in 1620.

Below – St. Augustine City Gate, circa 1861.
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American Art – Part II of IV: David Mueller

Artist Statement: “I like to create renderings that capture the essence of simple, yet profound, aesthetics. The current focus of my work is primarily figurative paintings, many including some kind of decorative element. I strive to create ‘timeless’ images. My style is aimed at finding a happy medium between classical realism and impressionism. I also love to plein air paint to try to capture the essence of natural landscape.”
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From the American History Archives – Part II of II: Tom Thumb

28 August 1830 – “Tom Thumb,” the first locomotive in the United States, makes its initial run from Baltimore to Ellicott’s Mill.

Below – A re-enactment of the Tom Thumb locomotive carrying directors from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
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Reflections in Summer: Aida Mitsu

“Those who want to start a new journey, there are always new roads open for you.”
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From the Music Archives: Richard Wagner

28 August 1850 – Richard Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin” premieres at Weimar, Germany.

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“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” – John Betjeman, English poet, writer, broadcaster, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1972-1984, who was born 28 August 1906.

“Five O’Clock Shadow”

This is the time of day when we in the Men’s ward
Think “one more surge of the pain and I give up the fight.”
When he who struggles for breath can struggle less strongly:
This is the time of day which is worse than night.

A haze of thunder hangs on the hospital rose-beds,
A doctors’ foursome out of the links is played,
Safe in her sitting-room Sister is putting her feet up:
This is the time of day when we feel betrayed.

Below the windows, loads of loving relations
Rev in the car park, changing gear at the bend,
Making for home and a nice big tea and the telly:
“Well, we’ve done what we can. It can’t be long till the end.”

This is the time of day when the weight of bedclothes
Is harder to bear than a sharp incision of steel.
The endless anonymous croak of a cheap transistor
Intensifies the lonely terror I feel.
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Reflections in Summer: John Singer Sargent

“Cultivate an ever-continuous power of observation. Wherever you are, be always ready to make slight notes of postures, groups and incidents. Store up in the mind… a continuous stream of observations from which to make selections later. Above all things get abroad, see the sunlight and everything that is to be seen.”

Below – John Singer Sargent: “Carnation”
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A Second Poem for Today

“On The Death Of Friends in Childhood”
By Donald Justice

We shall not ever meet them bearded in heaven
Nor sunning themselves among the bald of hell;
If anywhere, in the deserted schoolyard at twilight,
forming a ring, perhaps, or joining hands
In games whose very names we have forgotten.
Come memory, let us seek them there in the shadows.
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“The possession of arbitrary power has always, the world over, tended irresistibly to destroy humane sensibility, magnanimity, and truth.” – Frederick Law Olmsted, American landscape architect, conservationist, journalist, social critic, public administrator, and co-designer (with Calvert Vaux) of New York City’s Central Park, who died 28 August 1903.

Below – Frederick Law Olmsted, oil painting by John Singer Sargent, 1895; Central Park, New York City.
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Reflections in Summer: Alex Morritt

“Motorcycle adventures are the perfect antidote to middle age.”
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From the Movie Archives: John Huston

“You walk through a series of arches, so to speak, and then, presently, at the end of a corridor, a door opens and you see backward through time, and you feel the flow of time, and realize you are only part of a great nameless procession.” – John Huston, American film director, screenwriter, and actor, who died 28 August 1987.

John Huston directed many great movies, including “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” “Key Largo,” “The African Queen,” and, of course, “The Maltese Falcon.”

28 August 1845 – “Scientific American” magazine publishes its first issue. In the words of one historian, “‘Scientific American’ is an American popular science magazine. It has a long history of presenting scientific information on a monthly basis to the general educated public, with careful attention to the clarity of its text and the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics. Many famous scientists, including Albert Einstein, have contributed articles in the past 168 years. It is the oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the United States.”
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American Art – Part III of IV: John Evans

John Evans (born 1945) earned a BFA and an MFA from Boston University.

Below – “October Nite”; “String Trio”; “Silent Garden”; “Coincidence”; “The Still Mind”; “Horizon.”
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Reflections in Summer: Jayden Hunter

“I realized if I didn’t just go, I’d never go. Going was the key. It didn’t matter where I was headed just as long as I was headed somewhere.”
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American Muse – Part I of II: Rita Dove

“Being true to yourself really means being true to all the complexities of the human spirit.” – Rita Dove, American poet and recipient of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who was born 28 August 1952.

“Teach Us to Number Our Days”

In the old neighborhood, each funeral parlor
is more elaborate than the last.
The alleys smell of cops, pistols bumping their thighs,
each chamber steeled with a slim blue bullet.

Low-rent balconies stacked to the sky.
A boy plays tic-tac-toe on a moon
crossed by TV antennae, dreams

he has swallowed a blue bean.
It takes root in his gut, sprouts
and twines upward, the vines curling
around the sockets and locking them shut.

And this sky, knotting like a dark tie?
The patroller, disinterested, holds all the beans.

August. The mums nod past, each a prickly heart on a sleeve.
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Back from the Territory – Art: Stephanie Ryan – Part I

Artist Statement: “I am originally from a small town in Ontario, Canada. I took art classes all through high school with some evening studies at the local Queen’s University in printmaking and life-drawing. I went to Trent University where I completed my bachelor of arts in Environmental Studies. My painting and drawing were used as an escape from my studies when I could afford the time!
I spent 3 summers planting trees in Northern BC to pay for my education, although I think it also helped draw me north, being in those beautiful mountains every day. In 1997, I travelled to Whitehorse to see the Yukon and fell in love with it – I spent all my free time paddling rivers, mountain biking and hiking in the mountains. I filled many journals with sketches of river bends, amazing mountain vistas and lists of all the future places that I want to explore.
I finished my B.A. in 1998 and moved to Yellowknife, NWT for a winter before moving back to the Yukon. In Whitehorse, Yukon, I worked as a greenhouse manager and landscaper for 10 years, and this work allowed me to be outside and to be creative with colour and texture in a different way. In 2010, I began work as a backcountry patroller for Park Canada on the Chilkoot Trail. Working 9 day shifts in the mountains inspires a lot of creative ideas. While the trail is geographically always the same, it changes by the minute with light, snow, rain, wind, and plants and wildlife following the seasons. I have found that working seasonally allows me to focus on my art in the winter, when the weather is much less inviting to be painting outdoors!”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Wheaton Valley Ridgeline”; “Reptile Creek on Snake River”; “Wind River.”
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Reflections in Summer: Larry McMurtry

“‘It’s funny, leaving a place, ain’t it?’ he said. ‘You never do know when you’ll get back.’”
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American Muse – Part II of II: William Stafford

“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” – William Stafford, American poet and pacifist, who died 28 August 1993.

“The Way It Is”

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Below – Lachesis, one of the Three Fates in Greek mythology, measuring the thread of life for an individual human being.
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Reflections in Summer: Robert Ardrey

“Art is an adventure. When it ceases to be an adventure, it ceases to be art. Not all of us pursue the inaccessible landscapes of the twelve-tone scale, just as not all of us strive for inaccessible mountain-tops, or glory in storms at sea. But the human incidence is there. Could it be that these two impractical pursuits — of beauty and of adventure’s embrace — are simply two differing profiles of the same uniquely human reality?”
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A Third Poem for Today

“The Cook Fire”
By Timothy Murphy

There is this demon in my lower brain.
Call him the Devil. Call him Charlie Russell.
He guzzles alcohol to dull his pain
and rustles calves beside the Little Mussel.

Why is he pained? Perhaps because the sky
is scared to call the badland its horizon.
Perhaps because a pony on the fly
shies from the shorthorns of a painted bison.

One of the Russells hanging in my head
captures the struggles of a grizzly bear,
twice-roped, spread-eagled, kicking apart a bed
of coals and ashes in his huge despair.

What overcomes insensate fear of fire?
Abandon, or invincible desire?

Below – Charles Russell: “Roping a Grizzly”
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American Art – Part IV of IV: Sharon Wandel

In the words of one writer, “Born in Bemidji, Minnesota, Sharon Wandel earned an MA from Columbia University, a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College. She studied art at the Art Students League and at SUNY Purchase. She lives and works in New York.

Her work is included in the collections of the Westinghouse Corporation, the Pfizer Corporation, the Art Students League, the National Academy of Design, the Housatonic Museum, and the Toyamura Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Her work has been exhibited widely nationally and internationally — Japan, Italy, England, and Sweden. She is the recipient of many awards including the Hartwig and the Speyer Awards from the National Academy; the Meisner, Hexter, Spring and Meiselman Awards from the National Sculpture Society; a Chaim Gross Foundation Award from Audubon Artists; Allied Artist Awards; North American Sculpture Exhibition Prize; and full Fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center.”

Below – “Suspended Bird, Twisted Brambles”; “Arc”; “Finial Bird on Toast Rack”; “Bird in Blossoms”; “Finial Bird on Wooden Ball”; “Suspended Bird, Leaves.”
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