Musings in Winter: Jenna Butler
“I won’t wax poetic about the land in a perfectionist sense: we work hard out here, and things constantly threaten the tiny equilibrium we’ve established in the market garden. Whatever peace we find is often hard won. But I stand firmly with Berry and Kingsolver and so many other writers who possess a deep need to step outside the city to find a place of calm. I don’t like the word ‘authentic’; at best, it’s divisive and antagonistic, implying one way of being is intrinsically better than another. But I do very much favour the notion of ‘alignment’. I’m convinced that at the heart of the matter lies a desire to draw what we do into alignment with how we live. Some of us aren’t in a place where we can live consistently on the land that holds our hearts, but come mishaps or miracles, we’re bound and determined to make that land as much a part of who we are as humanly possible.”
Below – Jenna Butler. In the words of one writer, “Jenna Butler makes her home in Red Deer, Alberta, where she teaches Creative Writing and Ecocriticism at Red Deer College.”
Art For Winter – Part I of III: Sergei Kiselev (Russian, contemporary)
Below – “Mountain View II”
A Poem for Today
“Meeting and Passing”
By Robert Frost
As I went down the hill along the wall
There was a gate I had leaned at for the view
And had just turned from when I first saw you
As you came up the hill. We met. But all
We did that day was mingle great and small
Footprints in summer dust as if we drew
The figure of our being less than two
But more than one as yet. Your parasol
Pointed the decimal off with one deep thrust.
And all the time we talked you seemed to see
Something down there to smile at in the dust.
(Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)
Afterward I went past what you had passed
Before we met, and you what I had passed.
Art For Winter – Part II of III: Dina Bogusonova (Russian, contemporary)
Below – “Yin Yang”
Musings in Winter: Diego Rivera
“From sunrise to sunset, I was in the forest, sometimes far from the house, with my goat who watched me as a mother does a child. All the animals in the forest became my friends, even dangerous and poisonous ones. Thanks to my goat-mother and my Indian nurse, I have always enjoyed the trust of animals–a precious gift. I still love animals infinitely more than human beings.”
Below – Diego Rivera: “Head of a Goat”
Art For Winter – Part III of III: Alexander Oligerov (Russian, contemporary)
Below – “Night Watch”
Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman
“When you first get started, you’re the only one with a vision. When you become creative and use your imagination, pretty soon the things you imagined, you can get done. If you got a taste of it, if you got a taste of what I’m talking about, you’d rather do that than eat. You couldn’t get enough of it. You’ll hunger for it the rest of your life.”
A Second Poem for Today
By David Lehman
Claude Debussy was born.
I remember where I was and what I was doing
one hundred years and two months later:
elementary algebra, trombone practice,
‘Julius Caesar’ on the record player
with Brando as Antony, simple
buttonhook patterns in football,
the French subjunctive, and the use
of “quarantine” rather than “blockade”
during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It was considered the less belligerent word.
Much was made of it in 1962,
centenary of Debussy’s birth.
And if today I play his ‘Rhapsody for Saxophone and Orchestra’
for the ten minutes it requires of
my undivided attention, who will attack me for
living in Paris in 1908 instead of now?
Let them. I’ll take my stand,
my music stand, with the composer
of my favorite ‘Danse Tarantelle.’
Spanish Art – Alvar Sunol
Alvar Sunol (born 1935) is a painter, sculptor, and lithographer.
Below – “Estudi Amb Vistes”; “De Cezanne a Picasso”; “Pintor Y Midelos”; “Figure Studies”; “A Matisse”; “Interior con Pintor.”
Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy
“Whales have been evolving for thirty million years. To our one million. A sperm whale’s brain is seven times the size of mine… The great size of his body has little to do with the great size of his brain, other than as a place to keep it. I have What If fantasies… What if the catalyst or the key to understanding creation lay somewhere in the immense mind of the whale? … Some species go for months without eating anything. Just completely idle.. So they have this incredible mental apparatus and no one has the least notion what they do with it. Lilly says that the most logical supposition, based on physiological and ecological evidence, is that they contemplate the universe… Suppose God came back from wherever it is he’s been and asked us smilingly if we’d figure it out yet. Suppose he wanted to know if it had finally occurred to us to ask the whale. And then he sort of looked around and he said, ‘By the way, where are the whales?’”
Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of III: Vladimir Comelfo
In the words of one writer, “Being an opponent of the radical artists thirsty for excess, scandal, provocation, and media, Comelfo is interested in existential dialogue, extending the line of traditions, preservation of classical forms and life-giving catharsis. Line is a ghost of a point in motion. It’s not the point, the utmost incorporeal determinancy, that can be seized, but its material phantom track. Perhaps this is why we come to such exhibitions — in order to see the invisible, to penetrate into idea, to meet the predecessors, to find the original, to step back in disbelief, to give a smile to a visual joke, and to get a designer catalogue.”
Below – “Hot”; “Fervent”; “Strange”; “Beloved”; “Alchemist”; “Self-Portrait.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Cynthia Lowen
The god I’d left behind sent one last email
before returning to his people.
That summer was sixty-five degrees and fluorescent.
I was working at a law firm.
The logical mind thinks,
You’ll be paid for your suffering.
‘Paradise is of this earth
and it is yours,’
said the copy-machine.
The impenetrable old growth of paper on my desk
begged to be made
When I took off my skirt-suit I felt like my mother, or myself
to be my mother.
I stood at the edge
of a New World.
I stared up the long rocky coast.
Whichever way was something to bump against
I pressed on in that direction.
It was like a sickness.
It was like the uncontrollable urge
to eat dirt.
Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of III: Andrey Mamaev – Part I of II
In the words of one writer, “Andrey Mamaev was born on 26th February, 1965 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He graduated from the Leningrad Art School named after V. A. Serov. The first exhibition of the artist’s works took place in Leningrad in 1986. In 1987-1988 the artist lived in Georgia, where he studied in the Sukhumi Art School, and repeatedly displayed his paintings at local city and regional art exhibitions. The unique realistic style of the artist had matured by that time. Landscape became the chief topic for Mamaev. He first painted from nature and then carefully reproduced the details so that the energy of true Nature could be captured in full.”
Below – “The Last Warrior”; “Winter Fairy Tale”; “The Wish Tree”; “Northwest Night”; “Twilight”; “The Challenge.”
Musings in Winter: Source Unknown
“Horses lend us the wings we lack.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Hazel Hall
I have known hours built like cities,
House on grey house, with streets between
That lead to straggling roads and trail off,
Forgotten in a field of green;
Hours made like mountains lifting
White crests out of the fog and rain,
And woven of forbidden music—
Hours eternal in their pain.
Life is a tapestry of hours
Forever mellowing in tone,
Where all things blend, even the longing
For hours I have never known.
Contemporary Russian Art – Part III of III: Andrey Mamaev – Part II of II
In the words of one writer, “The artist traveled a lot in search of subjects for his works in different regions both in Russia (Gorny Altai, the Polar Urals, the Far East, central Russia and the Crimea) and in other countries (the Caucasus, the Alps, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea).”
Below – “First Leaf” ; “Falling Asleep Forest”; “Old Pond”; “Solden”; “Overgrown Park”; “Snowy Fog.”
Musings in Winter: Olga Grushin
“The night embraces me, cool and endless, and above me the stars are tiny holes in the darkness through which the light of eternity is pouring out. I can almost sense primordial stardust flowing through my veins. People are forever telling me that stars make them feel small, and I always nod noncommittally and wonder at the stuffy confinement of their minds. Stars make me feel vast.”
American Art – Michi Susan
In the words of one writer, “Given a name that means ‘beauty’ when she was born in 1935, in Tokyo, Michi Susan has pursued art and beauty since the age of six. She attended the demanding Japan Women’s University in Tokyo, studying fine art and child psychology. When she married an American serviceman in 1965, at the age of 30, Michi moved to Shreveport, Louisiana and set up a studio with four other women. Fifteen years later she moved to Oklahoma, where she has lived and worked to this day, producing paintings and collages evocative of calligraphy and landscape, expressing her many years of study of haiku, sculpture, and ancient Chinese and Japanese symbols. Michi repeatedly twists, layers, sews, and weaves a myriad of colored papers and yarn to create wildly colorful and textured collages, the results of which are occasionally reminiscent of a flat piñata. The overall aesthetic of Michi’s collages, the vibrant springtime pinks and blues of some, the rusts, browns, blacks, and the ghostly autumn whites of others, alludes to an old Japanese custom of tying wishes written on rice paper to the bamboo trees at Shinto shrines: the colors and textures mixing to form a collage of Japanese wishes. The peacefulness and harmony of color and form in Michi’s pieces are inspired, in part, by her early morning golf games in the rolling hills near her home. The quiet of those early mornings can be found in the harmonious and careful balance of color and form in her work, and in the patience clearly needed to complete one of her collages. ‘When I was young, I thought of trying to convey a message through my work – what my life meant in art. But I don’t do that anymore. I express myself through my paper [and canvas], and I hope people enjoy my work.’”
Below – “Wildflowers 101-04”; “Wildflowers 113-05”; “Kimono Landscape 402-06”; “Landscape”; “Through the Window 317”; “Poem 427-98”; “Poem 139.”
Readers: I will not be posting for the next ten days, since I will be visiting my youngest son in San Francisco. While there, if I encounter anything that is particularly interesting or especially beautiful, I’ll share it with you.
Below – Amy Giacomelli: “Golden Gate Bridge”