From the Pacific Northwest – Part LIII

Musings in Winter: Shannon Huffman Polson

“Tracks were adumbrations of the energy of life all about us, the recent history book of wilderness.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: John Mix Stanley (American, 1814-1872)

Below – “View of Upstate New York” (1842)

A Poem for Today

“Shawl”
By Albert Goldbarth

Eight hours by bus, and night
was on them. He could see himself now
in the window, see his head there with the country
running through it like a long thought made of steel and wheat.
Darkness outside; darkness in the bus—as if the sea
were dark and the belly of the whale were dark to match it.
He was twenty: of course his eyes returned, repeatedly,
to the knee of the woman two rows up: positioned so
occasional headlights struck it into life.
But more reliable was the book; he was discovering himself
to be among the tribe that reads. Now his, the only
overhead turned on. Now nothing else existed:
only him, and the book, and the light thrown over his shoulders
as luxuriously as a cashmere shawl.

Art for Winter – Part II of III: William Lester Stevens (American, 1888-1969)

Below – “Rocky Shore”; “Vinalhaven Island, Maine.”

A Second Poem for Today

“The Man Who Never Heard of Frank Sinatra”
By Aaron Fogel

The man who had never heard of Frank Sinatra: he lived
A perfectly ordinary life in America. Born in 1915,
He followed all the fads, read the newspapers, listened

To Television, knew who Dean Martin and Sammy whathisname
Were (Sinatra’s friends), but somehow, by a one in a
Zillion fluke, whenever Sinatra came up, he was out of the room.

Or his attention was diverted by something else, and
(You will say this is impossible, that it cannot be), never
Heard him sing, like a man in my generation who somehow

Missed the Beatles though he had heard everything else.
Once, just as he was about to hear the name Frank Sinatra
A plane flew overhead—he was fifty-five years old—his hearing

A little more impaired. He had heard of Humphrey Bogart,
Of Elizabeth Taylor, of Walter Cronkite, and of perhaps a hundred
Forty thousand other celebrities names by the time he died,

And yet he had never heard of Frank Sinatra. The Greeks had
That famous saying, “The luckiest man is he who was never born.”
Which is kind of gloomy, but I think they were wrong.

The luckiest man is he who never heard of Frank Sinatra.

Musings in Winter: Jeanette Winterson

“Where you are born–what you are born into, the place, the history of the place, how that history mates with your own– stamps who you are, whatever the pundits of globalisation have to say.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Anthony Thieme (American, 1888-1954)

Below – “South Street, Rockport, Massachusetts”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“They spoke less and less between them until at last they were silent altogether as is often the way with travelers approaching the end of a journey.”

Chinese Art – Yingzhao Liu

In the words of one writer, “Yingzhao Liu was born in 1956 in China. He received a B.A. in Oil Painting from the Harbin Normal University and a M.F.A at the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, China. Liu has taught Mastery of Oil Painting at the Tianjina Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Art Design. Mr. Liu was first introduced to America in 1995 by participating in a delegation of young Chinese oil painters. He toured major U.S. cities with the group which held exhibitions in each of the seven cities visited. He has won several awards and honors, including those at the International Fair of Asian Arts, the Biannual Oil Painting show in Guangzhao and at the 50th Anniversary of the Publication of Art Symposium in Yanani.”

Below – “Three Apples”; “Strawberry in Glass”; “White Chrysanthemum in Glass”; “Two Pomegranates.”

Musings in Winter: Tom Dorrance

“When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid; I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has somehow outfoxed them.”

British Art – David Brayne

In the words of critic Jean Gilbert-Firmstone, “There is poetry of perception expressed in David Brayne’s work that is informed by his earlier Minimalist training and his growing Classical concerns. His surfaces are chalky dry, reminiscent of early Renaissance frescoes, his colours while subtly English invariably have a warm vibrant Italian ochre singing out: creating a perfect harmonious palette. Land and sea appear blended together in a gentle linear exchange where there are no shadows – all as if in a dream – a lyrical memory. These compositions are often interrupted with figures and boats, juxtaposed as if in a delicate dance, exquisitely and quintessentially beautiful. The tender portrayal of the graceful women and men as they hold their fishing lines and nets, making improbable but graceful shapes. These are paintings that have a perfection of form, expressed with a beautiful and strange aesthetic.”

Musings in Winter: Gerald Raftery

“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.”

American Art – Part I of III: Polly Thayer (Starr) (1904-2006)

In the words of one writer, “Polly Thayer Starr enjoyed the reputation of being one of Boston’s most cherished and long-lived treasures.  For more than seven decades she produced artwork that traversed many worlds, from the traditional technique that characterizes the best of the Boston School painters to experimentation with modernist ideas.” 

Below – “The Bowl”; “City Skyline”; “Point Alexandre III”; “Cat Nap”; “Still Life”; “The Light Drinkers.”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“The closest bonds we will ever know are bonds of grief. The deepest community one of sorrow.”

A Third Poem for Today

By Molly Peacock
“Chance”

may favor obscure brainy aptitudes in you
and a love of the past so blind you would
venture, always securing permission,
into the back library stacks, without food
or water because you have a mission:
to find yourself, in the regulated light,
holding a volume in your hands as you
yourself might like to be held. Mostly your life
will be voices and images. Information. You
may go a long way alone, and travel much
to open a book to renew your touch.

American Art – Part II of III: Bill Nebeker

In the words of one writer, “Looking at a Bill Nebeker sculpture gives one an honest and authentic portrayal of the historic American West or contemporary ranch life. Quiet tributes, subtle humor and wry observations underlie Nebeker’s work. His knack for weaving an unobtrusive storyline into a sculpture challenges the unsuspecting viewer, “Oh! Now I get it!” That moment of discovery is at the heart of experiencing and appreciating Bill’s bronzes.”

Below – “Hear Me This Day”; “Season of the Buffalo”; “Just Part of the Job”; “Workin Partners”; “The Eyes of Texas”; “Ridin for the Brand”; “Well Heeled.”

Musings in Winter: Albert Schweitzer

“The path of awakening is not about becoming who you are. Rather it is about unbecoming who you are not.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“After Reading Tu Fu, I Go Outside to the Dwarf Orchard”
By Charles Wright

East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird,
I flit from one thing to the next.
What do I have to look forward to at fifty-four?
Tomorrow is dark.
Day-after-tomorrow is darker still.

The sky dogs are whimpering.
Fireflies are dragging the hush of evening
up from the damp grass.
Into the world’s tumult, into the chaos of every day,
Go quietly, quietly.

Musings in Winter: Bjornstjerne Bjornson

“Do not complain beneath the stars about the lack of bright spots in your life.”

American Art – Part III of III: Paul Strisik (1918-1998)

In the words of one writer, “In his nearly fifty-year career, Paul Strisik amassed a series of awards that few, if any, artists achieve: over 200 awards, including seventeen gold medals, as well as accolades from the many art organizations where he played a leadership role. He relished his life as an artist.”

Below –  “Acadia Surf”; “Gloucester”; “Morning Light, Zion National Park, Utah”; “Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico, Morning”; “El Capitan, Yosemite National Park”; “Evening Light, Yosemite National Park.”

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