Sentient in San Francisco – 16 May 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 16 May 1898 – Tamara de Lempicka, a Polish painter who spent most of her working life in France and the United States.

Below – “Woman with a Mandolin”; “Young Lady with Gloves”;
“Portrait of Romana De La Salle”; “The Mexican”; “Portrait De Madame Boucard”; “Self-portrait, Tamara in a Green Bugati.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 16 May 1929 – Adrienne Rich, an American poet, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award: Part I of II.

Some quotes from the work of Adrienne Rich:

“Change is not a threat to your life, but an invitation to live.”
“An honorable human relationship- that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
“Courage is not defined by those who fought and did not fall, but by those who fought, fell and rose again.”
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”
“There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.”
“We need to imagine a world in which every woman is the presiding genius of her own body. In such a world women will truly create new life, bringing forth not only children if and as we choose but the visions, and the thinking, necessary to sustain, console and alter human existence – a new relationship to the universe. Sexuality, politics, intelligence, power, motherhood, work, community, intimacy will develop new meanings; thinking itself will be transformed. This is where we have to begin.”
“Poetry has always mattered, through human history, through all kinds of cultures, all kinds of violence and human desolation, as well as periods of great human affirmation. It’s been associated with the power of the word, with the sacred, with magic and transformation, with the oral narratives that help a people cohere.”
“Art means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.”
“If you are trying to transform a brutalized society into one where people can live in dignity and hope, you begin with the empowering of the most powerless. You build from the ground up.”
“Poetry can open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire.”
“Behind all art is an element of desire…Love of life, of existence, love of another human being, love of human beings is in some way behind all art — even the most angry, even the darkest, even the most grief-stricken, and even the most embittered art has that element somewhere behind it. Because how could you be so despairing, so embittered, if you had not had something you loved that you lost?”
“My heart is moved by all I cannot save: so much has been destroyed I have to cast my lot with those who age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.”


Contemporary French Art – Claudio Missagia: Part I of II.

Below – “Da qualche parte”; “Altrove”; “Da qualche parte”; “Da qualche parte”; “Da qualche parte”; Untitled.

This Date in Literary History: Born 16 May 1929 – Adrienne Rich, an American poet, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award: Part II of II.

“Twenty-One Love Poems [Poem III}”
By Adrienne Rich

Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we’re not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
did I lean from any window over the city
listening for the future
as I listen here with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move toward me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer,
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.

Below – Alfred Henry Maurer: “Two Women”


Contemporary French Art – Claudio Missagia: Part II of II.

Below – “Da qualche parte”; “Altrove”; “Butterflies party”; “Floreale”; “Trace”; “Complosizione.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 16 May 1955 – James Agee, an American novelist, journalist, screenwriter, film critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the Work of James Agee:

“You’ve got to bear it in mind that nobody that ever lived is specially privileged; the axe can fall at any moment, on any neck, without any warning or any regard for justice. You’ve got to keep your mind off pitying your own rotten luck and setting up any kind of a howl about it. You’ve got to remember that things as bad as this and a hell of a lot worse have happened to millions of people before and that they’ve come through it and that you will too.”
“And a human being whose life is nurtured in an advantage which has accrued from the disadvantage of other human beings, and who prefers that this should remain as it is, is a human being by definition only, having much more in common with the bedbug, the tapeworm, the cancer, and the scavengers of the deep sea.”
“You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.”
“For in the immediate world, everything is to be discerned, for him who can discern it, and central and simply, without either dissection into science, or digestion into art, but with the whole of consciousness, seeking to perceive it as it stands: so that the aspect of a street in sunlight can roar in the heart of itself as a symphony, perhaps as no symphony can: and all of consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiation of what is.”
“A mother never realizes that her children are no longer children.”
“And somewhat as in blind night, on a mild sea, a sailor may be made aware of an iceberg, fanged and mortal, bearing invisibly near, by the unwarned charm of its breath, nothingness now revealed itself: that permanent night upon which the stars in their expiring generations are less than the glinting of gnats, and nebulae, more trivial than winter breath; that darkness in which eternity lies bent and pale, a dead snake in a jar, and infinity is the sparkling of a wren blown out to sea; that inconceivable chasm of invulnerable silence in which cataclysms of galaxies rave mute as amber.”
“I know the most important faculty to develop is one for hard, continuous and varied work and living; but the difference between knowing this and doing anything consistent about it is often abysmal.”
“Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense.”
“How far we all come. How far we all come away from ourselves. So far, so much between, you can never go home again. You can go home, it’s good to go home, but you never really get all the way home again in your life. And what’s it all for? All I tried to be, all I ever wanted and went away for, what’s it all for?”


Contemporary Canadian Art – Victoria General

Below – “Her process”; “The village meeting”; “The Innkeeper’s son”; “…and our little life is rounded with a sleep”; “The lull of waves”; “When he rode down the hill to see me again.”


A Poem for Today

“Sometimes, When the Light”
by Lisel Mueller

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

Below – Faye Anastasopoulou: “The Secret”

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