American Art – Part I of III: Eric Wert
Eric Wert earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts from Northwestern University.
Reflections in Summer: Wallace Stegner
Today in American History – Part I of III: September 6 is “National Read a Book Day.”
A Poem for Today
By Samuel Menashe
British Art – Part I of II: Arthur Rackham
Died 6 September 1939 – Arthur Rackham, an English artist best known as the illustrator for Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
My German grandmother encouraged me to read the Grimm tales when I was a young boy, and so at an early age I came to associate them with Arthur Rackham’s splendid illustrations. The original stories collected and published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are quite different from the “Disneyfied” versions available today. In fact, many of them are quite brutal, and my grandmother rarely failed to underscore what for her was the obvious moral in the more punitive tales: Children must obey their parents and behave well, or they will suffer the consequences of their insubordination. It is not surprising, then, that I grew up to be such a law-abiding person, since if I exceed the speed limit in my automobile, I half-expect a crow to fly in the window and peck out my eyes.
Reflections in Summer: Gwendolyn Brooks
“Art hurts. Art urges voyages – and it is easier to stay at home.”
From the Music Archives: Roger Waters
Born 6 September 1943 – Roger Waters, English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and co-founder of Pink Floyd.
I am dedicating the song on the link below to my three sons, who have loved Roger Waters’ “Radio Waves” since they were boys. In fact, they used to play it constantly, almost obsessively, though I am not sure why.
A Second Poem for Today
By William Meredith
What it must be like to be an angel
or a squirrel, we can imagine sooner.
The last time we go to bed good,
they are there, lying about darkness.
They dandle us once too often,
these friends who become our enemies.
Suddenly one day, their juniors
are as old as we yearn to be.
They get wrinkles where it is better
smooth, odd coughs, and smells.
It is grotesque how they go on
loving us, we go on loving them.
The effrontery, barely imaginable,
of having caused us. And of how.
Their lives: surely
we can do better than that.
This goes on for a long time. Everything
they do is wrong, and the worst thing,
they all do it, is to die,
taking with them the last explanation,
how we came out of the wet sea
or wherever they got us from,
taking the last link
of that chain with them.
Father, mother, we cry, wrinkling,
to our uncomprehending children and grandchildren.
Reflections in Summer: Norman Maclean
British Art – Part II of II: Brian Denington
Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of painter Brian Denington: “Brian Denington was born in 1944 in Glastonbury, Somerset. He studied fine art and illustration at the South East Essex School of Art from 1961 to 1966. After leaving college he worked for some time as a graphic designer in a London design studio before turning his interests towards figurative illustration and portraiture. Since moving to France he has placed less emphasis on portraiture, and concentrated almost entirely on his figure work.”
Reflections in Summer: Jerome K. Jerome
Here is the Artist Statement of sculptor Renate Verbrugge: “My stone sculptures are created out of pure inspiration. It should be appreciated with your eyes, your hands, your heart, your soul. No intellectual analysis will speak louder than the emotions my sculptures provoke.”
Born to Italian parents in Belgium in 1964, Renate Verbrugge emigrated to New Zealand in 1995.
Reflections in Summer: Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
“A common fallacy in much of the adverse criticism to which science is subjected today is that it claims certainty, infallibility and complete emotional objectivity. It would be more nearly true to say that it is based upon wonder, adventure and hope.”
“I am still every age that I have been. Because I was once a child, I am always a child. Because I was once a searching adolescent, given to moods and ecstasies, these are still part of me, and always will be… This does not mean that I ought to be trapped or enclosed in any of these ages…the delayed adolescent, the childish adult, but that they are in me to be drawn on; to forget is a form of suicide… Far too many people misunderstand what ‘putting away childish things’ means, and think that forgetting what it is like to think and feel and touch and smell and taste and see and hear like a three-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twenty-three-year-old means being grownup. When I’m with these people I, like the kids, feel that if this is what it means to be a grown-up, then I don’t ever want to be one. Instead of which, if I can retain a child’s awareness and joy, and ‘be’ fifty-one, then I will really learn what it means to be grownup.” – Madeleine L’Engle, American writer and author of the Newberry Award-winning “A Wrinkle in Time,” who died 6 September 2007.
Some quotes from the work of Madeleine L’Engle:
“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
“Some things have to be believed to be seen.”
“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.”
“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.”
“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”
“Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.”
“We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.”
Reflections in Summer: Kevin E. Beasley
“Adventure is about what we do; not what we plan, strategize or dream about. Adventure begins with ‘what ifs’ and ‘why nots.’ What if I were to step out to chase that dream? Why not take the first steps and see what happens? When we step through the doorway of adventure our life is suddenly worth the living. And we experience life as it was meant to be.”
American Art – Part II of III: Charles Hartley
Artist Statement: “I bought canvases and oil painting gear when I was in college and created several truly horrible oil paintings; thankfully none have survived. In the meantime every four to six years I created a few more very mundane paintings, only a few of which survive. A year after I retired from teaching I figured out some of what I was doing wrong with my painting and started producing classical realism paintings. I have no formal training in art, but I have been fortunate enough to have visited a number of the great art museums of the world and seen examples of the finest paintings.
My wife and I have traveled extensively in the past twenty-five years, mostly to somewhat less developed countries with exotic sights and people, and I have documented our adventures with photographs. I paint mostly from my travel photographs, picking the subject matter because it offers something I think I will enjoy painting.”
Below – “Tivat House” (Montenegro); “Siena Dusk” (Italy); “Above the Urubamba Valley” (Peru); “Spice Lady” (Bali); “Deep Shade” (Croatia); “Three Waves” (Florida); “Huntington Park” (New York); “Dixie Bread” (based on a photograph taken in 1921 in Hopewell, Oregon by Carl Hartley, bakery truck driver); “Men Having Tea” (based on a photograph taken by Charles Hartley in Malomo, Malawi); “Little Indian Girl” (based on a photograph Charles Hartley took in Fatehpur Sikri, India); “Street Scene in Varanasi, India”; “Temple Moat at Mengwi” (Bali).
Nobel Laureate: Jane Addams
“The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.” – Jane Addams, American social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, writer, leader in the causes of women’s suffrage and world peace, author of “Twenty Years at Hull House,” and recipient of the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize, who was born 6 September 1860.
Some quotes from the work of Jane Addams:
“True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.”
“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.”
“I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking – that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done; but then we must remember that we have not had the chance. ”
“The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.”
“If the meanest man in the republic is deprived of his rights, then every man in the republic is deprived of his rights. ”
“Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics.”
“Social advance depends as much upon the process through which it is secured as upon the result itself.”
Dutch painter Paul Boswijk (born 1959) was educated at the Academy Minerva in Groningen.
“The role of the artist is to not look away.” – Kurosawa Akira, Japanese film director, who died 6 September 1998.
My Asian Studies students will remember our watching and discussing Kurosawa’s “Dreams” (1990) in class. For those who have not seen it, this movie has eight thematically interlocked episodes, one of which is “Mount Fuji in Red.” While this episode is undoubtedly didactic, it is also prophetic, since in it a large nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji begins to melt down, and then its six nuclear reactors explode one by one, spreading radioactive toxins everywhere. In light of the still-unfolding disaster at Fukushima, it is essential for all of us to ponder the ever-timely theme of “Mount Fuji in Red,” namely, that it is dangerous to assume that the authorities in charge of the institutions that affect our lives in important ways are either competent or truthful.
Some quotes from the work of Kurosawa Akira:
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”
“In a mad world only the mad are sane.”
“People today have forgotten they’re really just a part of nature. Yet, they destroy the nature on which our lives depend. They always think they can make something better. Especially scientists. They may be smart, but most don’t understand the heart of nature. They only invent things that, in the end, make people unhappy. Yet they’re so proud of their inventions. What’s worse, most people are, too. They view them as if they were miracles. They worship them. They don’t know it, but they’re losing nature. They don’t see that they’re going to perish. The most important things for human beings are clean air and clean water.”
“I suppose all of my films have a common theme. If I think about it, though, the only theme I can think of is really a question: Why can’t people be happier together?”
“No matter where I go in the world, although I can’t speak any foreign language, I don’t feel out of place. I think of earth as my home. If everyone thought this way, people might notice just how foolish international friction is and the would be put an end to it.”
Reflections in Summer: Carsten Jensen
“With no other choices open to us, we’d turned our gaze seaward. The oceans were our America: they reached farther than any prairie, untamed as on the first day of creation. Nobody owned them.”
By Robert Frost
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.
Back from the Territory – Art: Steve Anderson
Richard Shorty is a Yukon sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Tracy Johnston
“Part of the urge to explore is a desire to become lost.”
Below – The Yukon River.
“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” – Robert Pirsig, American writer, philosopher, and author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values,” who was born 6 September 1928.
Some quotes from the work of Robert Pirsig:
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.”
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
“We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone. ”
“You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”
“In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
“The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.”
On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
“We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”
“Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.”
“But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.”
“Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships.”
“Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive”
Reflections in Summer: Leonardo da Vinci
American Art – Part III of III: Eric Zener
Eric Zener earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara.