From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXXIV

Musings in Winter: P.D. James

“The eyes were certainly memorable and beautiful, moist calves’ eyes heavily lashed and with the same look of troubled pain at the unpredictability of the world’s terrors.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Jack Bryant, Jr. (American, contemporary)

Below – “The Maverick” (bronze)

A Poem for Today

“Allegiances”
By William Stafford

It is time for all the heroes to go home
if they have any, time for all of us common ones
to locate ourselves by the real things
we live by.

Far to the north, or indeed in any direction,
strange mountains and creatures have always lurked-
elves, goblins, trolls, and spiders:-we
encounter them in dread and wonder,

But once we have tasted far streams, touched the gold,
found some limit beyond the waterfall,
a season changes, and we come back, changed
but safe, quiet, grateful.

Suppose an insane wind holds all the hills
while strange beliefs whine at the traveler’s ears,
we ordinary beings can cling to the earth and love
where we are, sturdy for common things.

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Buev (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “A Dog Game” (mixed media on board)

Musings in Winter: Gertrude Benham

“I have no home in the sense that is generally understood and so there is nothing to prevent me enjoying to the uttermost the spirit of wanderlust that has entered my soul. I am never lonely. How can I be when there is so much to see and admire in the world?”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Nathan Clements (American, contemporary)

Below – “Lullaby”

Musings in Winter: Karen Davis

“Especially when it comes to animals used for food, humanity’s reasoning power and concern about fairness plummets.”

A Second Poem for Today

“War Photograph”
By Kate Daniels

A naked child is running
along the path toward us,
her arms stretched out,
her mouth open,
the world turned to trash
behind her.

She is running from the smoke
and the soldiers, from the bodies
of her mother and little sister
thrown down into a ditch,
from the blown-up bamboo hut
from the melted pots and pans.
And she is also running from the gods
who have changed the sky to fire
and puddled the earth with skin and blood.
She is running–my god–to us,
10,000 miles away,
reading the caption
beneath her picture
in a weekly magazine.
All over the country
we’re feeling sorry for her
and being appalled at the war
being fought in the other world.
She keeps on running, you know,
after the shutter of the camera
clicks. She’s running to us.
For how can she know,
her feet beating a path
on another continent?
How can she know
what we really are?
From the distance, we look
so terribly human.

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Nadezhda Everling

In the words of one writer, “Born in Leningrad (St.-Petersburg). Graduated first from the Art School at the Academy of Fine Arts, and then from the Production Faculty of the St. Petersburg Academy of Theatrical Arts named after Cherkasov (studio of G.Sotnikov) in 1988.”

Below – “Summer Evening”; “Blue Building”; “Evening in a Garden”; “Circle”; “Cow-Parsnips”; “Supplies.”

Musings in Winter: Madeleine L’Engle

“If I’m confused, or upset, or angry, if I can go out and look at the stars I’ll almost always get back a sense of proportion. It’s not that they make me feel insignificant; it’s the very opposite; they make me feel that everything matters, be it ever so small, and that there’s meaning to life even when it seems most meaningless.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Elena Figurina

In the words of one writer, “Figurina confesses that she can’t live without her work. Perpetually, Figurina keeps asking herself if she is a true artist, as she treats art neither as a profession nor a vocation. Art is Figurina’s individual way of existing as a rational and sentient being. Figurina maintains that the production of art is not just a laborious process in terms of physicality of it, but should also be considered an emotional challenge as well. Finding the delicate balance of expressing your inner most being without falling over the edge into insanity, is the ultimate task when it comes to art, according to Figurina.”

Below – “Walk (Yellow)”; “People”; “Expectation”; “A Tree”; “Walk with a Cow”; “A Table.”

A Third Poem for Today

“Fishing on the Susquehanna River in July”
By Billy Collins

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.

Not in July or any month
have I had the pleasure–if it is a pleasure–
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

I am more likely to be found
in a quiet room like this one–
a painting of a woman on the wall,

a bowl of tangerines on the table–
trying to manufacture the sensation
of fishing on the Susquehanna.

There is little doubt
that others have been fishing
on the Susquehanna,

rowing upstream in a wooden boat,
sliding the oars under the water
then raising them to drip in the light.

But the nearest I have ever come to
fishing on the Susquehanna
was one afternoon in a museum in Philadelphia

when I balanced a little egg of time
in front of a painting
in which that river curled around a bend

under a blue cloud-ruffled sky,
dense trees along the banks,
and a fellow with a red bandanna

sitting in a small, green
flat-bottom boat
holding the thin whip of a pole.

That is something I am unlikely
ever to do, I remember
saying to myself and the person next to me.

Then I blinked and moved on
to other American scenes
of haystacks, water whitening over rocks,

even one of a brown hare
who seemed so wired with alertness
I imagined him springing right out of the frame.

Musings in Winter: Robinson Jeffers

“Nature knows that people are a tide that swells and in time will ebb, and all their works dissolve … As for us: We must uncenter our minds from ourselves. We must unhumanize our views a little and become confident as the rock and ocean that we are made from.”

Contemporary American Art – Part I of II: Xiang Zhang

In the words of one writer, “Observing life to capture it’s essences was the foremost lesson Xiang learned from his art professors. Evidence of these ideas can be found in the treatment of his early landscapes and images from life. During his formative years, Xiang improved his grasp of both figure and form by making thousands of impromptu sketches. These studies have enabled him to develop a great talent for portraying strikingly original figures, particularly when combined with his long study of Western traditional painting techniques. Xiang graduated from the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing and Tulane University in New Orleans with his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees, respectively. Over the past twenty years, Xiang’s paintings have appeared in many group art exhibitions as well as one-man shows. He is a Signature Member of Oil Painters of America and has won numerous awards including the Founders Award from The Artist’s of the New Century 2002, Bennington, Vermont.”

Below – “Majestic Glow”; “A Thoughtful Reflection”; “True Grit”; “A Hundred Years Ago”; “Long Road Home”; “Grand Opera House.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border:
By William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

Musings in Winter: J.A. Souders

“This is my favorite time of day. When the sun is setting and the last of its fiery fingers caress the water line before relinquishing their hold to the darkness of the night. And I can watch as the stars pop out, one by one, to pinprick the sky with their silvery light.”

Contemporary American Art – Part II of II: Kim English

Artist Statement: “Immediacy is important not only because it is often the nature of people, but for me it is the most instinctive way to paint. The process is like a performance. It’s the magic of spontaneous work combined with a candid observation of society that allows me to pursue the daily events of ordinary people as the theme of my work.”

Below – “College Life”; “Georgetown, Colorado”; “Off Broadway”; “China Grey”; “Grant Street”; untitled.

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