Musings in Spring: Jessica Stern
“I can still bring into my body the joy I felt at seeing the first trillium of spring, which seemed to be telling me, “Never give up hope, spring will come.”
Art for Spring – Part I of III: Nikolay Kopeikin (Russian, contemporary)
Below – “No Exit”
A Poem for Today
By Billy Collins
Remember the 1340’s? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade,
and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular,
the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon,
and at night we would play a game called “Find the Cow.”
Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.
Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet
marathons were the rage. We used to dress up in the flags
of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle
while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.
The 1790’s will never come again. Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills
and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.
I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment,
time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps,
or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me
recapture the serenity of last month when we picked
berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.
Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees
and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light
flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse
and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.
As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past,
letting my memory rush over them like water
rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place
where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine,
a dance whose name we can only guess.
Art for Spring – Part II of III: Huang Jinsong (Chinese, contemporary)
Below – “Shanxi Alleyway I”
Musings in Spring: Willa Cather
“After that hard winter, one could not get enough of the nimble air. Every morning I wakened with a fresh consciousness that winter was over. There were none of the signs of spring for which I used to watch in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens. There was only—spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere: in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, and in the warm, high wind—rising suddenly, sinking suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted. If I had been tossed down blindfold on that red prairie, I should have known that it was spring.”
Art for Spring – Part III of III: Robert Koch (South African, contemporary)
Below – “Lake Clark, Alaska”
Musings in Spring: Bess Streeter Aldrich
“A piece of rusty pump and a pile of stones,–all that was left of the place he and Marthy had called home. ‘Home’. What a big word that was. Lots of attempts made lately to belittle it. Plenty of fun poked at it. Young folks laughed about it,–called it a place to park. Everybody wanted to get some place else, seemed like. They’d find out. They’d understand some day. When they got old, they’d know. They’d want to go home. sometimes in their lives everybody wanted to go home.”
Contemporary Italian Art: Antonio Iannicelli
In the words of one writer, “Iannicelli was born in Naples in 1952 but now lives and works in Castelvolturno, Italy. As a boy, he showed a great inclination for painting which he cultivated with love, using the heaven, sea and people of Naples as his teachers. He has staged about twenty personal showings in Italy and abroad and has participated almost uninterruptedly in the highest national art expositions. He has won numerous awards and prizes. Iannicelli excels, above all, in coastal and Venetian views and landscapes, where he manages to render unusual aspects with expressive immediateness. His works are found in public and private collections.”
Below – “Coastal Scene”; “Bacali”; “European Coast.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Basho Matsuo
Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still…
Iris, blue each spring.
Musings in Spring: Rawi Hage
“In cities it is useless to look at the stars or to describe them, worship them, or seek direction from them. When lost, one should follow the tracks of the camels.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Great Sleeps I Have Known”
By Robin Becker
Once in a cradle in Norway folded
like Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir
as a ship in full sail transported the dead to Valhalla
Once on a mountain in Taos after making love
in my thirties the decade of turquoise and silver
After your brother walked into the Atlantic
to scatter your mothers ashes his khakis soaked
to the knees his shirtsleeves blowing
At the top of the cottage in a thunderstorm
once or twice each summer covetous of my solitude
Immediately following lunch
against circadian rhythms, once
in a bunk bed in a dormitory in the White Mountains
Once in a hollow tree in Wyoming
A snow squall blew in the guide said tie up your horses
The last night in the Katmandu guest house
where I saw a bird fly from a monk’s mouth
a consolidated sleep of East and West
Once on a horsehair mattress two feet thick
I woke up singing
as in the apocryphal story of my birth
at Temple University Hospital
On the mesa with the burrowing owls
on the mesa with the prairie dogs
Willing to be lucky
I ran the perimeter road in my sleep
entrained to the cycles of light and dark
Sometimes my dead sister visited my dreams
Once on the beach in New Jersey
after the turtles deposited their eggs
before my parents grew old, nocturnal
Below – Andrew Wyeth: “Day Dream”
Musings in Spring:William Butler Yeats
“Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”
Below – The Lake Isle of Innisfree.
Contemporary Russian Art – Aleksandr Korolev
Artist Statement: ”As a painter, one should not interfere with the picture, rather one should feel it and read what the composition dictates, as opposed to imposing his or her own plan.
This is my personal understanding of the progression of art that I have developed over the period of my growth as an artist. One should not crush and physically and brutally exploit the materials used. I enjoy working with the materials and coming up with a mutual cooperation and understanding. This is what underlines the laws of composition when it comes to art. As an artist, I try to give the materials I use a certain life and judgment of their own. Afterwards I retreat into a state of contemplation over what has occurred and let the painting complete itself.”
Below – “Sitting”; “Red Lying”; “Girl with the Knees”; “Sitting Winter.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
From “Rooftop Soliloquy”
By Roman Payne
So the nymphs they spoke,
we kissed and laid.
By noontime’s hour
our love was made.
Like braided chains of crocus stems,
we lay entwined, I laid with them.
Our breath, one glassy, tideless sea,
our bodies draping wearily,
we slept, I slept so lucidly,
with hopes to stay this memory.
Below – John William Waterhouse: “Hylas and the Nymphs”
Contemporary South African Art – Martin Koch
Artist Statement: “You almost have to become one of the animals to paint them realistically. I spend weeks practically living with them, making sketches for future paintings. You can read all about animals in books, but you never really know them until you become part of their lives…Despite the worldwide movement to save African wildlife, I think that many years from now, much of the scenery and animal life that I have painted will only be seen on canvas, as civilization will take its toll on Africa’s natural beauty.”
Below – “Lion with Lioness”; “Water Buffalo”; “Victoria Falls”; “Kudu”; “Elephants at the Baobab Tree”; “Watering Hole.”
Musings in Spring: Joseph Campbell
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.”
Contemporary American Art – Part I of II: Susan Kliewer
In the words of one writer, “Susan Kliewer, a native of California, has lived in Arizona for nearly 37 years, five of them at Marble Canyon Trading Post in a remote area of Northern Arizona near the Colorado River. Dreams of horses, deserts, canyons, rivers and sunsets have been her constant companions since she was a child.
A painter since the age of 10, she turned to sculpting in 1987 after working in an art casting foundry for 10 years. Susan won a competition to create a monument of Sedona Schnebly, in honor of one of the founders of Sedona, Arizona. The ten-foot tall bronze figure was installed in front of the Sedona Library in 1994. Kliewer’s life-size fountain portraying the Sinagua people and a fountain of a Hopi Water Maiden are also to be found in Sedona. “My work” Kliewer says, “aims to show the common thread that underlies all human experience, and which I hope brings us to a greater understanding between all peoples.”
She often uses her Navajo friends and grandchildren as models to capture that special intimacy which is the hallmark of her work. Her depiction of the ways of Native Americans in everyday life, from the past as well as the present, has attracted major collectors from all over the world.”
Below – “Beauty Before Me” (bronze); “At Last I Shall Give Myself to the Desert Again (Maynard Dixon” (bronze); “Runs with Wolves” (bronze); “Beauty Way” (bronze); “Watermelon Man” (bronze); “Healing Dress Dancer” (bronze).
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Looking for Gold”
By William Stafford
A flavor like wild honey begins
when you cross the river. On a sandbar
sunlight stretches out its limbs, or is it
a sycamore, so brazen, so clean and so bold?
You forget about gold. You stare—and a flavor
is rising all the time from the trees.
Back from the river, over by a thick
forest, you feel the tide of wild honey
flooding your plans, flooding the hours
till they waver forward looking back. They can’t
return; that river divides more than
two sides of your life. The only way
is farther, breathing that country, becoming
wise in its flavor, a native of the sun.
Musings in Spring: Robin Schneider
“Steinbeck wrote about the tide pools and how profoundly they illustrate the interconnectedness of all things, folded together in an ever-expanding universe that’s bound by the elastic string of time. He said that one should look from the tide pool to the stars, and then back again in wonder.”
Contemporary American Art – Part II of II: Kate Kiesler
Artist Statement: “My paintings are about the natural world around me. I am taken by the shapes and light found there.
Details are unimportant. I am much more interested in conveying an interpretation through brushwork and the juxtaposition of value and color. My background in illustration focused on detail and on story telling, so my paintings free me to play a little more—to create spontaneously without specific instruction and with a certain amount of abandon. My biggest challenge is to allow my pieces to evolve on their own without my thought processes interrupting the flow of things.
My best work comes directly from freeing my mind and my hand and moving from shape to shape intuitively.”
Below – “Among Poppies”; “Autumn Paint”; “Beneath the Snow Cap”; “Clearing Fog”; “Points West”; “Textured Hills.”