From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXXI

Musings in Winter: Mary Oliver

“Be prepared. A dog is adorable and noble.
A dog is a true and loving friend. A dog
is also a hedonist.”

Art for Winter – Part I of II: Annie Strack (American, contemporary)

Below – “Waiting”

A Poem for Today

“A Myth of Devotion”
By Louise Gluck

When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.

Everything the same, including sunlight,
because it would be hard on a young girl
to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness

Gradually, he thought, he’d introduce the night,
first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
In the end, he thought, she’d find it comforting.

A replica of earth
except there was love here.
Doesn’t everyone want love?

He waited many years,
building a world, watching
Persephone in the meadow.
Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
If you have one appetite, he thought,
you have them all.

Doesn’t everyone want to feel in the night
the beloved body, compass, polestar,
to hear the quiet breathing that says
I am alive, that means also
you are alive, because you hear me,
you are here with me. And when one turns,
the other turns—

That’s what he felt, the lord of darkness,
looking at the world he had
constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
that there’d be no more smelling here,
certainly no more eating.

Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
These things he couldn’t imagine;
no lover ever imagines them.

He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
First he thinks: ‘The New Hell’. Then: ‘The Garden’.
In the end, he decides to name it
‘Persephone’s Girlhood’.

A soft light rising above the level meadow,
behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
He wants to say ‘I love you, nothing can hurt you’

but he thinks
this is a lie, so he says in the end
‘you’re dead, nothing can hurt you’
which seems to him
a more promising beginning, more true.

Below – Attributed to the Codrus Painter: “Hades and Persephone” (Attic vase – 450-400 BCE; description: “Hades and Persephone recline on a couch in the underworld. The god holds a cornucopia (horn of plenty) and plate, and the goddess a small item, probably a pomegranate seed.”)

Art for Winter – Part II of II: Will Bauer (German, contemporary)

Below – “Mountains”

Musings in Winter: Lauren Klarfeld

“The old you has been left behind to leave place for the new you. And it will be a new you that your new friends will admire, that your old friends will struggle to understand and that your true friends will learn to embrace.”

Contemporary Canadian Art – Marcelle Bonenfant Dube

In the words of one writer, “Marcelle Bonenfant Dube was born in Metis-sur-mer, Quebec, in 1938. In 1975, she left the teaching profession to devote herself entirely to painting. Having a strong passion for history and archeology, her research has been, for the pats ten years, almost exclusively based on Man, his history, the traves he left behind, his myths and beliefs. Her study of ancient worlds has influenced the textures in her work, which often resemble ancient engravings. Another significant theme addressed by Dube is music. Through her choice of color and the bold energy of her brushstroke, the artist seeks to create an equivalent to the emotion brought upon the sonority and rhythm of a symphony.”

Below – “Piano”; “Petite Suite Barque 6”; “Leningrad 4”; “Aux Matius du Moude.”

Musings in Winter: Kate DiCamillo

“Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel.
Huge portions of what is loosely termed ‘the squirrel brain’ are given over to one thought: food.
The average squirrel cogitation goes something like this: ‘I wonder what there is to eat.’”

A Second Poem for Today

“Shaking the Grass”
By Janice N. Harrington

Evening, and all my ghosts come back to me
like red banty hens to catalpa limbs
and chicken-wired hutches, clucking, clucking,
and falling, at last, into their head-under-wing sleep.

I think about the field of grass I lay in once,
between Omaha and Lincoln. It was summer, I think.
The air smelled green, and wands of windy green, a-sway,
a-sway, swayed over me. I lay on green sod
like a prairie snake letting the sun warm me.

What does a girl think about alone
in a field of grass, beneath a sky as bright
as an Easter dress, beneath a green wind?

Maybe I have not shaken the grass.
All is vanity.

Maybe I never rose from that green field.
All is vanity.

Maybe I did no more than swallow deep, deep breaths
and spill them out into story: all is vanity.

Maybe I listened to the wind sighing and shivered,
spinning, awhirl amidst the bluestem
and green lashes: O my beloved! O my beloved!

I lay in a field of grass once, and then went on.
Even the hollow my body made is gone.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“The night sky lies so sprent with stars that there is scarcely space of black at all and they fall all night in bitter arcs and it is so that their numbers are no less.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Evgeniya Buravleva

In the words of one writer, “Evgenia Buravleva graduated from Viatka Art College in 2000 and Viatka State Humanitarian University in 2001. Following this, she attended the Moscow Academy of Art and spent a year abroad studying at the Berlin Art University in 2007. She was awarded a Gold Medal from the Russian Academy of Arts in 2008 and became a member of the Moscow Union of Artists in 2009.
Buravleva’s work is expressionistic in feeling. She begins her work by applying areas of colour and the finished painting, often architectural in form, evolves from this. Buravleva feels that Raoul Dufy is a major influence on her work and she employs the Fauvist’s trademark broad brushstrokes and vigour in her paintings. However, her Russian heritage shines through in her use of subtle and muted colours. Evgeniya has recently explored Germany and France, where she absorbed a great deal of of European art and culture, and she has begun to incorporate these influences into her work.”

Below – “Day Off”; “Fireball”; “Moscow”; “Playground.”

Musings in Winter: Virgil Kalyana Mittata Iordache

“As much as I would like to know my path, a part of me is telling me that it is better not too know too many details about the end destination or the obstacles on the journey. If I can only see as much as my headlights will show me, I can travel safely through any kind of weather, knowing that there’s life through every sunrise and sunset and when the light is not shining as I’m used to, I can always assure myself that the night sky will show me many fulfilled dreams and hopes portrayed through shining stars, and every now and then reveal me a part of the moon which reflects that everlasting light, whether fully or not, making me aware that the shadow will always have its mysterious beauty as well in the process of underlying a part of the truth. So let’s continue like this, with our eyes set out far away in the galaxy, but with our feet firm in the ground from which we have been raised. Only so will we be able to ground ourselves deeply and reach immeasurable heights, like a tree deeply rooted in mother Earth that stretches its branches up to the heavens.”

Contemporary American Art – Part I of II: John Booth

In the words of one writer, “John Booth is a native Texan, born in Austin in 1967. He studied art at Southwest Texas University and at Richland Community College. Booth has worked in clay for much of his career; although the majority of his recent pieces have been clay and raku, he has begun to incorporate limited edition bronzes into his repertoire. Booth’s Indian heritage has inspired him to study the Hopi and Zuni Kachinas, and much of his current work incorporates his interpretations of Kachinas and other related themes.”

Below – “Poli Sio Hemic Kachina” (ceramic raku); “Hemis Kachina” (ceramic raku); “Hon Bear” (bronze); “Sio Hemis Kachina” (ceramic raku).

A Third Poem for Today

“The Pomegranate”
By Eavan Boland

The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.

Below – “Demeter with Her Daughter Persephone” (terracotta, 200-100 BCE); Dante Gabriel Rossetti: “Persephone” (1874); Thomas Hart Benton: “Persephone” (1939); Patricia Ariel: “Persephone” (2006).

Musings in Winter: Jim Steinman

“The icy cold will cut us like a knife in the dark
And we may lose everything in the wind
But the Northern Lights are burning
And they’re giving off sparks.”

Contemporary American Art – Part II of II: Ben Watson III

Artist Statement: “Scenes from everyday life inspire my paintings. Sometimes only fragments of those scenes — such as a weather-beaten basket propping open a door — strike me the strongest. The idea just happens. I’m in the right place at the right time, fortunate enough to know it and disciplined enough to record it. Recording doesn’t mean verbatim copying. I may leave a background blank if the images are strong enough to speak for themselves. It is not necessary to add for the sake of adding. I may leave out an originally planned element if I feel it’s no longer needed. Sometimes it’s hard to eliminate an element I like, but it can always be incorporated into another painting, so the image isn’t lost. The final piece is my interpretation of a subject – what I want to say about it. The subject may hit me quickly, but I slow down the process of rendering it in watercolor by using drybrush. With the moisture squeezed from the bristles, I can work for hours – or days – to create the interesting specifics of everything from the smooth skin on a cheek to the stubble of a graying beard.”

Below – “Maine Morning”; “Spring to Life”; “Just My Luck”; “Independence Day”; “Lahaina Harbor”; “Hanging Out with the Buoys.”

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