Sentient in San Francisco – 8 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Born 8 December 1815 – Adolph Menzel, a German painter and illustrator.

Below – “Emilie Menzel Asleep”; “Balcony Room”; “Studio Wall”; “At the Beer Garden”; “Supper at the Ball”; “Living Room with the Artist’s Sister”; “The Bedroom of the Artist in the Ritterstrasse.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 8 December 1960 – Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist, writer, journalist, and author of “The End of Nature” (1988), which has been called the first book on global warming written for a general audience.

Some quotes from the work of Bill McKibben:

“Climate change is the single biggest thing that humans have ever done on this planet. The one thing that needs to be bigger is our movement to stop it.”
“Global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It’s our reality.”
“The technology we need most badly is the technology of community, the knowledge about how to cooperate to get things done.”
“In 50 years, no one will care about the fiscal cliff or the Euro crisis. They’ll just ask, ‘So the Arctic melted, and then what did you do?’”
“In fact, corporations are the infants of our society – they know very little except how to grow (though they’re very good at that), and they howl when you set limits. Socializing them is the work of politics. It’s about time we took it up again.
“We’ve been given a warning by science, and a wake-up call by nature; it is up to us now to heed them.”
“It is unbelievably sad and ironic that the first victims of global warming are almost all going to come from places that are producing virtually none of the problem.”
“We can either save the planet from catastrophic warming, or protect fossil fuel CEOs. Not both. Do the math(s).”
“The real negotiation is between humans on the one hand and chemistry and physics on the other. And chemistry and physics, unfortunately, don’t bargain.”
“The world hasn’t ended, but the world as we know it has-even if we don’t quite know it yet.”
“A spiritual voice is urgently needed to underline the fact that global warming is already causing human anguish and mortality in our nation and abroad, and much more will occur in the future without rapid action.”

Contemporary Ukrainian Art – Olga Novokhatska

Below – “Pink Trees”; “Rock & Flowers”; “Poppy Fields in France”; “In the Garden”; “Anna in the Light”; “Sea Landscape.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 8 December 1913 – Delmore Schwartz, an American poet and short story writer.

“Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day”
by Delmore Schwartz

Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn …)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn …)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

Below – Joseph Catanzaro: “A Walk in the Park.”

Contemporary Argentine Art – Marco Ortolan: Part I of II.

Below – “Manhattan Bridge, NYC”; “Dancing underwater”; “A Spring Window”; “Still the Water”; “In the Rose Garden”; “Still the water.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 8 December 1951 – Bill Bryson, an award-winning Anglo-American essayist, travel writer, science writer, and author of “The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America” and “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail.”

Some quotes from the work of Bill Bryson:

“Take a moment from time to time to remember that you are alive. I know this sounds a trifle obvious, but it is amazing how little time we take to remark upon this singular and gratifying fact. By the most astounding stroke of luck an infinitesimal portion of all the matter in the universe came together to create you and for the tiniest moment in the great span of eternity you have the incomparable privilege to exist.”
“That’s the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it’s gone, it’s too late to get it back.”
“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”
“Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding.”
“I ordered a coffee and a little something to eat and savored the warmth and dryness. Somewhere in the background Nat King Cole sang a perky tune. I watched the rain beat down on the road outside and told myself that one day this would be twenty years ago.”
“Because we humans are big and clever enough to produce and utilize antibiotics and disinfectants, it is easy to convince ourselves that we have banished bacteria to the fringes of existence. Don’t you believe it. Bacteria may not build cities or have interesting social lives, but they will be here when the Sun explodes. This is their planet, and we are on it only because they allow us to be.”

Contemporary Argentine Art – Marco Ortolan: Part II of II.

Below – “The Spring”; “Sunset NYC”; “She”; “The Kiss of the Lovers”; “Romantic Venice”; “Two Women and a Cat.”

A Poem for Today

“Death of a Dog”
by Ted Kooser

The next morning I felt that our house
had been lifted away from its foundation
during the night, and was now adrift,
though so heavy it drew a foot or more
of whatever was buoying it up, not water
but something cold and thin and clear,
silence riffling its surface as the house
began to turn on a strengthening current,
leaving, taking my wife and me with it,
and though it had never occurred
to me until that moment, for fifteen years
our dog had held down what we had
by pressing his belly to the floors,
his front paws, too, and with him gone
the house had begun to float out onto
emptiness, no solid ground in sight.

Below – Ted Kooser with his Labrador retriever Howard (the subject of the poem) on his right.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 7 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Born 7 December 1892 – Stuart Davis, an American painter.

Below – Untitled (Pear); “Feasible”; Untitled; “Cubist Study: Airview”; “Private Way.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 7 December 1873 – Willa Cather, an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Willa Cather:

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.”
“One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world’s end somewhere, and hold fast to the days.”
“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”
“The end is nothing; the road is all.”

This Date in Art History: Born 7 December 1926 – Leon Kossoff, an English painter.

Below – “The Tube”; “City Rooftops”; “Landscape with Calm No. 1”;
“Inside Kilburn Underground, Summer 1983”; “Dalston Lane, Summer”; “Pilar.”

Remembering an Important Thinker on the Date of His Birth: Born 7 December 1928 – Noam Chomsky, an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political activist, and social critic.
Noam Chomsky is an Avatar of Sanity in an increasingly deranged world.

Some quotes from the work of Noam Chomsky:

“As long as the general population is passive, apathetic, diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable, then the powerful can do as they please, and those who survive will be left to contemplate the outcome.”
“Students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.”
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”
“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.”
“Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. And concentration of political power gives rise to legislation that increases and accelerates the cycle.”
“The world is a very puzzling place. If you’re not willing to be puzzled, you just become a replica of someone else’s mind.”
“That’s the standard technique of privatization: defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry, you hand it over to private capital.”
“It’s ridiculous to talk about freedom in a society dominated by huge corporations. What kind of freedom is there inside a corporation? They’re totalitarian institutions – you take orders from above and maybe give them to people below you. There’s about as much freedom as under Stalinism.”
“There’s a good reason why nobody studies history, it just teaches you too much.”
“Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future.”
“The point of public relations slogans like “Support Our Troops” is that they don’t mean anything … that’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything. But its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something, do you support our policy? And that’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about.”
“Jingoism, racism, fear, religious fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to people if you’re trying to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them.”
“Nobody should have any illusions. The United States has essentially a one-party system and the ruling party is the business party.”
“Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it’s unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things, there’s a chance you may contribute to making a better world. The choice is yours.”

Contemporary American Art – Thu Nguyen: Part I of II.

Below – “The Fallen Barbie”; “Passing Train”; “Mending”; “Happy Day”; “Koi Happiness”; “Madonna.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 7 December 1985 – Robert Graves, a British poet, historical novelist, critic, classicist, and author of “Good-Bye to All That” and “The White Goddess.”

Some quotes from the work of Robert Graves:

“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”
“If I were a girl, I’d despair. The supply of good women far exceeds that of the men who deserve them.”
“I believe that every English poet should read the English classics, master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them, travel abroad, experience the horrors of sordid passion, and – if he is lucky enough – know the love of an honest woman.”
“Genius not only diagnoses the situation but supplies the answers.”
“Abstract reason, formerly the servant of practical human reasons, has everywhere become its master, and denies poetry any excuse for existence.
Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves. Of never acquiescing in a fraud; of never accepting the secondary-rate in poetry, painting, music, love, friends. Of safeguarding our poetic institutions against the encroachments of mechanized, insensate, inhumane, abstract rationality.”

Contemporary American Art – Thu Nguyen: Part II of II.

Below – “Her Story”; “Star Maker”; “The Black Hmong Princess”; “I want to put a ding in the universe”; “Happiness comes from within”; “Alone Together.”

A Poem for Today

by Bradford Tice

I tell myself softly, ‘this is how love begins’—
the air alive with something inconceivable,
seeds of every imaginable possibility
floating across the wet grasses, under
the thin arms of ferns. It drifts like snow
or old ash, settling on the dust of the roadways
as you and I descend into thickets, flanked
by the fragrance of honeysuckle and white

I recall how my grandmother imagined
these wanderers were living beings,
some tiny phylum yet to be classified as life.
She would say they reminded her of maidens
decked in white dresses, waltzing through air.
Even after I showed her the pods from which
they sprang, blossoming like tiny spiders,
she refused to believe.

Now, standing beside you in the crowded
autumn haze, I watch them flock, emerge from
brittle stalks, bursting upon the world as
young lovers do—trysting in the tall grasses,
resting fingers lightly in tousled hair.
Listen, and you can hear them whisper
in the rushes, gazing out at us, wondering—
‘what lives are these?’

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Sentient in San Francisco – 6 December 2018

Contemporary British Art – Jean-Luc Almond

Below – “Unity”; “Virginia”; “Reflection”; “Forgotten”; “Pie”; “Turquoise Jane.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 6 December 1882 – Anthony Trollope, an English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and author of the perfectly delightful “Barchester Towers.”

Some quotes from the work of Anthony Trollope:

“What on earth could be more luxurious than a sofa, a book, and a cup of coffee?…Was ever anything so civil?”
“The habit of reading is the only one I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade.”
“It has now become the doctrine of a large clan of politicians that political honesty is unnecessary, slow, subversive of a man’s interests, and incompatible with quick onward movement.”
“There is no royal road to learning; no short cut to the acquirement of any art.”
“There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel.”

Contemporary Czech Art – Mark Hospodarsky

Below – “Princess”; “Aviary”; “Point”; “Aura – Black Dream”; “Parade”; “Phantom.”

A Poem for Today

“Taking Apart My Childhood Piano”
by Rebecca Macijeski

My mother and I sit on the back porch,
bare feet in summer grass
as we take the upright down to pieces,
breeze humming through its strings.

I extract each melodic tooth and sort them
in octaves for rinsing, tidy enclosure in boxes,
remembering in each how my young fingers
rioted over them searching for sound

and the way it grows like its own
unruly animal. The old piano
lies open to Sunday morning sun,
swallowing blossoms that drift over like stars

from the apple tree I climbed as a girl.
My mother and I sit here in a quiet
usually reserved for churches,
hands moving slowly over what we gather

—piles of soft hammers, odd coils of wire.
We take up wet rags and wash each wooden key
down its surface, wet music
pooling onto our skin.

Contemporary American Art – Katelyn Alain: Part I of II.

Below – “Dreams of McQueen”; “Ever Onward To The Sea”; “If I Too Am Nature”; “Ready for Change”; “Calm despite the whirlwind wishing”; “Looking out at the night as the night itself.”

A Poem for Today

“The Death of the Bee”
by Linda Pastan

The biography of the bee
is written in honey
and is drawing
to a close.

Soon the buzzing
plainchant of summer
will be silenced
for good;

the flowers, unkindled
will blaze
one last time
and go out.

And the boy nursing
his stung ankle this morning
will look back
at his brief tears

with something
like regret,
remembering the amber
taste of honey.

Contemporary American Art – Katelyn Alain: Part II of II.

Below – “Ambivalence”; “The Ship Was False And Held But One”; “As It Is Now”; “Self With A Gut Feeling”; “Hands Up”; “Illuminating Night.”

A Poem for Today

“The Guardians”
by Jill Bialosky

All day we packed boxes.
We read birth and death certificates.
The yellowed telegrams that announced
our births, the cards of congratulations
and condolences, the deeds and debts,
love letters, valentines with a heart
ripped out, the obituaries.
We opened the divorce decree,
a terrible document of division and subtraction.
We leafed through scrapbooks:
corsages, matchbooks, programs to the ballet,
racetrack, theatre—joy and frivolity
parceled in one volume—
painstakingly arranged, preserved
and pasted with crusted glue.
We sat in the room in which the beloved
had departed. We remembered her yellow hair
and her mind free of paradox.
We sat together side by side
on the empty floor and did not speak.
There were no words
between us other than the essence
of the words from the correspondences,
our inheritance—plain speak,
bereft of poetry.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 5 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Died 5 December 1946 – Louis Dewis, a Belgian-French painter.

Below – “Morning Landscape”; “The Port of Toulon”; “Bridge on the Nivelle”; “Landscape”; “Snow in Biarritz.”

A Poem for Today

“Red Rover”
by Jill Bialosky

We take our last walk.
Walls stripped of portraits,

warped mirrors, dressing tables,
and the grandfather clock

with its stoic face
and elaborate gentle fingers.

For years we struggled to break
free of the closeness of rooms,

the obligation of birth order,
the metaphysics that bind

one element to the other,
as if we were still wild girls

playing wild rover in the garden,
breaking through a chain of linked hands.

This Date in Art History: Born 5 December 1890 – David Bomberg, an English painter and illustrator.

Below – “The Mud Bath”; “In the Hold”; “Trees in Sun, Cyprus”; “Ju-Jitsu”; “Bathing Scene”; “Tregor and Tregoff, Cornwall.”

A Poem for Today

“Lifting My Daughter”
by Joseph Hutchinson

As I leave for work she holds out her arms, and I
bend to lift her . . . always heavier than I remember,
because in my mind she is still that seedling bough
I used to cradle in one elbow. Her hug is honest,
fierce, forgiving. I think of Oregon’s coastal pines,
wind-bent even on quiet days; they’ve grown in ways
the Pacific breeze has blown them all their lives.
And how will my daughter grow? Last night, I dreamed
of a mid-ocean gale, a howl among writhing waterspouts;
I don’t know what it meant, or if it’s still distant,
or already here. I know only how I hug my daughter,
my arms grown taut with the thought of that wind.

Below – Frank Dicksee: “The Mother”

Contemporary Dutch Art – Ad Van Riel

Below – “Fish Tank”; “Panorama (8)”; “Little Story (2)”; “Sight (30)”; “Vista (20)”; “Landscape (1).”

A Poem for Today

“My Mother’s Penmanship Lessons”
by Wesley McNair

In her last notes, when her hand began
to tremble, my mother tried to teach it

the penmanship she was known for,
how to make the slanted stems

of the p’s and d’s, the descending
roundness of the capital m’s, the long

loops of the f’s crossed at the center,
sending it back again and again

until each message was the same:
a record of her insistence that the hand

return her to the way she was before,
and of all the ways the hand had disobeyed.

Contemporary American Art – Patty Neal

Below – “All That You Hoped”; “Three Graces”; “Taxi”; “Summer in the City”; “Pile-up”; “On the Land”; “Peaks and Vales.”

A Poem for Today

‘Mending Time”
By David Mason

The fence was down. Out among humid smells
and shrill cicadas we walked, the lichened trunks
moon-blue, our faces blue and our hands.

Led by their bellwether bellies, the sheep
had toddled astray. The neighbor farmer’s woods
or coyotes might have got them, or the far road.

I remember the night, the moon-colored grass
we waded through to look for them, the oaks
tangled and dark, like starting a story midway.

We gazed over seed heads to the barn
toppled in the homestead orchard. Then we saw
the weather of white wool, a cloud in the blue

moving without sound as if charmed
by the moon beholding them out of bounds.
Time has not tightened the wire or righted the barn.

The unpruned orchard rots in its meadow
and the story unravels, the sunlight creeping back
like a song with nobody left to hear it.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 4 December 2018

Contemporary Romanian Art – Oana Unciuleanu: Part I of II.

Below – “Burning Flame”; “Creation of Man”; “Wondering”; “Talking”; “Still Life”; “Shadow.”

A Poem for Today

“Cash Register Sings The Blues”
by Maria Nazos

This ‘isn’t’ my dream-job. As a young sheet
of steel and plastic I dreamt of being melted

down into a dancer’s pole in Vegas. I wanted
a woman in a headdress glossy as a gossamer

to wrap her lithe limbs around me. I wanted
to be strewn in lights, smell her powdery perfume.

Instead I’m a squat box crouched behind the counter,
noticed only if someone robs me. I’m touched all day,

but never caressed. Listen: somewhere gold tokens
spew from slots. I want to drink space-alien-dyed martinis on black

leather sectional couches. Watch tipsy women with acid-
washed jeans and teased hair dreamily press their faces

against slot machines while people treat currency
carelessly as spit in the wind.

I’m everywhere you look, ubiquitous and ignored.
I’m the container of your dreams that tossed aside my own.

I’ve kept my clean, sleek lines but you never say a thing.
Feed me, feed me with the only love we know.

Contemporary Romanian Art – Oana Unciuleanu: Part II of II.

Below – “To Bid You Farewell”; “Looking Left”; “Desert Light”; “Feel the Spark”; “Really?”; “I found you in the dark.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 4 December 1875 – Rainer Maria Rilke, an Austrian-Swiss poet and author.

Some quotes from the work of Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
“The highest form of love is to be the protector of another person’s solitude.”
“Go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows.”
“Perhaps somewhere, someplace deep inside your being, you have undergone important changes while you were sad.”
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
“I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.
Think… of the world you carry within you, and call this thinking whatever you want to: a remembering of your own childhood or a yearning toward a future of your own – only be attentive to what is arising within you, and place that above everything you perceive around you. What is happening in your innermost self is worthy of your entire love; somehow you must find a way to work at it.”
“This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.”
“To love is good, too: love being difficult. For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation. Love is a high inducement to the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world for himself for another’s sake, it is a great exacting claim upon him, something that chooses him out and calls him to vast things.”
“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”
“It is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, in any case.”
“Understand, I’ll slip quietly away from the noisy crowd when I see the pale stars rising, blooming, over the oaks. I’ll pursue solitary pathways through the pale twilit meadows with only this one dream: You come too.”
“I am so glad you are here. It helps me realize how beautiful my world is.”

Contemporary American Art – Rely Penezic: Part I of II.

Below – “California Road Chronicles #8”; “California Road Chronicles #63”; “Extreme Loafing & Idling #36”; “California Road Chronicles #62”; “Out of Here”; “California Road Chronicles #68.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 4 December 2014 – Claudia Emerson, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Eight Ball”
by Claudia Emerson

It was fifty cents a game
beneath exhausted ceiling fans,
the smoke’s old spiral. Hooded lights
burned distant, dull. I was tired, but you
insisted on one more, so I chalked
the cue—the bored blue—broke, scratched.
It was always possible
for you to run the table, leave me
nothing. But I recall the easy
shot you missed, and then the way
we both studied, circling—keeping
what you had left me between us.

Contemporary American Art – Rely Penezic: Part II of II.

Below – “Extreme Loafing & Idling #34”; “Extreme Loafing & Idling #35”; “Extreme Loafing & Idling #16”; “California Road Chronicles #66”; “California Road Chronicles #71 (Silence)”; “Zen of L.A. (Shadows)”; “Extreme Loafing & Idling #29.”

A Poem for Today

“Bees Were Better”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

In college, people were always breaking up.
We broke up in parking lots,
beside fountains.
Two people broke up
across a table from me
at the library.
I could not sit at that table again
though I did not know them.
I studied bees, who were able
to convey messages through dancing
and could find their ways
home to their hives
even if someone put up a blockade of sheets
and boards and wire.
Bees had radar in their wings and brains
that humans could barely understand.
I wrote a paper proclaiming
their brilliance and superiority
and revised it at a small café
featuring wooden hive-shaped honey-dippers
in silver honeypots
at every table.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 3 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Died 3 December 1919 – Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a French painter and sculptor.

Below – “The Theater Box”; “The Swing”; “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette”; “Luncheon of the Boating Party”; “Claude Monet Painting in His Garden at Argenteuil”; “By the Water”; “Sleeping Girl with a Cat.”

Musings in Autumn: Edgar Allan Poe

“Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.”

Below – An engraving by Gustave Dore (1882) for an 1884 edition of “The Raven.”

This Date in Art History: Died 3 December 1941 – Pavel Filonov, a Russian painter.

Below – “Portrait of E. N. Glebova” (the artist’s sister); “Universal Flowering”; “Animals”; “Faces on an Icon”; “Horses”; “Heads.”

A Poem for Today

“For Elizabeth, Who Loved to Square Dance”
by Christine Stewart-Nunez

I wore Grandma Liz’s pearls
for play, a plastic strand long
enough to pool on the carpet
over my stubbed toes. When I pull
them over my head now, I smell
phantoms: cigarettes, Esteé
Lauder. I don’t smoke or spritz
on perfume. I don’t layer polyester
or perm my hair. I’ve slipped off
my wedding ring as she did, signed
divorce. What advice would she offer
for life between husbands? ‘Wear red
lipstick and always leave it behind.’

Contemporary American Art – Shih Young An

Below – “Ocular Trophy”; “Women in History”; “The Civil Rights Movement”; “Knotting Yellow Ribbons”; “A Spring Breeze”; “Feeding.”

A Poem for Today

“The Letter”
by Linda Pastan

It is December in the garden,
an early winter here, with snow
already hiding my worst offenses —
the places I disturbed your moss
with my heavy boots; the corner
where I planted in too deep a hole
the now stricken hawthorne: crystals
hanging from its icy branches
are the only flowers it will know.

When did solitude become
mere loneliness and the sounds
of birds at the feeder seem
not like a calibrated music
but the discordant dialects
of strangers simply flying through?
I have tried to construct a life
alone here — coffee at dawn; a jog
through the chilling air

counting my heartbeats,
as if the doctor were my only muse;
books and bread and firewood —
those usual stepping-stones from month
to freezing month. but the constricted light,
the year closing down on itself with all
the vacancies of January ahead, leave me
unreconciled even to beauty.
When will you be coming back?

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Sentient in San Francisco – 2 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Born 2 December 1859 – Georges Seurat, a French painter.

Below – “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”; “The Circus”; “Gray weather, Grande Jatte”; “View of Fort Samson”; “Bathers at Asnieres”; “Models.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 2 December 1963 – Ann Patchett, an award-winning American author.

Some quotes from the work of Ann Patchett:

“Never be so focused on what you’re looking for that you overlook the thing you actually find.”
“No matter how much we love a book, the experience of reading it isn’t complete until we can give it to someone who will love it as much as we do.”
“Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings.” “Following complex story lines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar icecaps.”
“Just because things hadn’t gone the way I had planned didn’t necessarily mean they had gone wrong.”
“Sometimes not having any idea where we’re going works out better than we could possibly have imagined.”

Contemporary Italian Art – Mimmo Frassineti

Below – “Basket of Fruits”; “Sinbad’s Lost Diary”; “Albert Einstein”; “Citta Nuova”; “Queen of Hearts”; “Sigmund Freud.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 2 December 1985 – Philip Larkin, an English poet and novelist.

“An Arundel Tomb”
by Philip Larkin

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque,
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

Contemporary British Art – Yuliya Martynova

Below – “Blue Bay | Sunny Beach”; “Mountain Spring”; “Connected”; “Blue Bay | Sardinia”; “Ripples”; “Ripples | Maranhenses.”

A Poem for Today

“Everyday Grace”
by Stella Nesanovich

It can happen like that:
meeting at the market,
buying tires amid the smell
of rubber, the grating sound
of jack hammers and drills,
anywhere we share stories,
and grace flows between us.

The tire center waiting room
becomes a healing place
as one speaks of her husband’s
heart valve replacement, bedsores
from complications. A man
speaks of multiple surgeries,
notes his false appearance
as strong and healthy.

I share my sister’s death
from breast cancer, her
youngest only seven.
A woman rises, gives
her name, Mrs. Henry,
then takes my hand.
Suddenly an ordinary day
becomes holy ground.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 1 December 2018

Greeting December

Below – Edvard Munch: “New Snow in the Avenue”

Art for December – Pierre-Auguste Renoir: “Skaters in the Bois de Boulogne”

A Poem for December

by Louise MacNeice

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Art for December – Claude Monet: “Boulevard Saint Denis, Argenteuil, in Winter”

A Poem for December

“River Snow”
by Liu Zhongyuan

A thousand hills, but no birds in flight,
Ten thousand paths, with no person’s tracks.
A lonely boat, a straw-hatted old man,
Fishing alone in the cold river snow.

Art for December – Paul Gauguin: “Winter Landscape”

A Poem for December

“First Sight”
by Philip Larkin

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to and fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleeces wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth’s immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake and grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

Art for December – Vincent van Gogh: “Landscape with Snow”

A Poem for December

“Night Snow”
by Bai Juyi

I was surprised my quilt and pillow were cold,
I see that now the window’s bright again.
Deep in the night, I know the snow is thick,
I sometimes hear the sound as bamboo snaps.

Art for December – Wassiily Kandinsky: “Winter Landscape”

A Poem for December

“December Moon”
by May Sarton

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head
After I leave the window.

Hours later near dawn
When I look down again
The whole landscape has changed
The perfect surface gone
Criss-crossed and written on
where the wild creatures ranged
while the moon rose and shone.

Why did my dog not bark?
Why did I hear no sound
There on the snow-locked ground
In the tumultuous dark?

How much can come, how much can go
When the December moon is bright,
What worlds of play we’ll never know
Sleeping away the cold white night
After a fall of snow.

Art for December – Peter Doig: “Reflection (What does your soul look like?)”

Welcome, Wonderful December

Below – Katsushika Hokusai: “Cranes on Branch of Snow-covered Pine”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 30 November 2018

This Date in Art History: Died 30 November 1979 – Laura Gilpin, an American photographer.

Below – “Young Navajo mother and her child”; “Ranchos de Taos Church”; “Sunset, Mesa Verde”; “Sunrise over the Desert: Shiprock from Lukachukai Mountains, Arizona”; “Pueblo Indian Baking Bread”; “Georgia O’Keeffe, 1974.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 30 November 1874 – Lucy Maud Montgomery, an English-Canadian author and poet.

Some quotes from the work of Lucy Maud Montgomery:

“Some people go through life trying to find out what the world holds for them only to find out too late that it’s what they bring to the world that really counts.”
“We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.”
“You never know what peace is until you walk on the shores or in the fields or along the winding red roads of Prince Edward Island in a summer twilight when the dew is falling and the old stars are peeping
out and the sea keeps its mighty tryst with the little land it loves. You find your soul then. You realize that youth is not a vanished thing but something that dwells forever in the heart.”
“The woods are never solitary — they are full of whispering, beckoning, friendly life. But the sea is a mighty soul, forever moaning of some great, unshareable sorrow, which shuts it up into itself for all eternity. We can never pierce its infinite mystery — we may only wander, awed and spellbound, on the outer fringe of it. The woods call to us with a hundred voices, but the sea has one only — a mighty voice.”
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
“Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old.”
“There is so much in the world for us all if we only have the eyes to see it, and the heart to love it, and the hand to gather it to ourselves–so much in men and women, so much in art and literature, so much everywhere in which to delight, and for which to be thankful.”

This Date in Art History: Born 30 November 1825 – William-Adolphe Bouguereau, a French painter.

Below – “Sewing”; “Bacchante”; “The Wave”; “The Young Shepherdess”; “Nymphs and Satyr”; “The Birth of Venus.”

A Poem for Today

“The Vanity of the Dragonfly”
by Nancy Willard

The dragonfly at rest on the doorbell—
too weak to ring and glad of it,
but well mannered and cautious,
thinking it best to observe us quietly
before flying in, and who knows if he will find
the way out? Cautious of traps, this one.
A winged cross, plain, the body straight
as a thermometer, the old glass kind
that could kill us with mercury if our teeth
did not respect its brittle body. Slim as an eel
but a solitary glider, a pilot without bombs
or weapons, and wings clear and small as a wish
to see over our heads, to see the whole picture.
And when our gaze grazes over it and moves on,
the dragonfly changes its clothes,
sheds its old skin, shriveled like laundry,
and steps forth, polished black, with two
circles buttoned like epaulettes taking the last space
at the edge of its eyes.

Below – Michael Vigliotti: “Dragonfly”

Contemporary Venezuelan Art – Renata Fernandez

Below – “Blue No 3”; “Deck Chairs Series No9”; “NL-10”; “ATC 25”; “HP Series Hanging Fern”; “NL Alien No1.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 30 November 1835 – Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), an American novelist, humorist, and critic.

Some quotes from the work of Mark Twain:

“Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
“Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”
“The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”
“Never miss an opportunity to shut up.”
If we were meant to talk more than listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.”
“Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn’t any. But this wrongs the jackass.”
“Always obey your parents when they are present.”
“Familiarity breeds contempt—and children.”
“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.”

Contemporary Turkish Art – Gorkem Dikel

Below – “Atlas Mountains 03”; “Arizona Surrounded/Candle Highlands”; “Euforia”; “Shopping As A Favourite Pastime”; “Women in the Monet’s Lake”; “Octopus: Wrapping Arms of the Past.”

A Poem for Today

“Midnight Snow”
by James Crews

Outside in the creek that feeds the lake
and never freezes, an otter slaps the water
with his paw to feel the current’s pulse—
‘Slip in, lie back. Slip in, lie back.’ He shuts
his eyes and obeys, knowing the layers
of hair and underfur will warm him while
he floats on a faith we wish could carry us.

The sound of his splashing fades, but not
his joy in being pushed, light as driftwood,
back to the mouth of the den I have seen
carved out beneath the roots of a fallen fir
now packed with snow and lined with leaves
that promise his sleep will be deep.

Because no dreams wait softly for me,
I open the woodstove and strike a match,
hold the bloom of the flame to kindling
that catches quick as my wish: To be that
slick body sliding into the lake that holds
the moon, bright portal to glide through
without so much as a shiver, no doubt
about where I’m going, how to get there.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 29 November 2018

Contemporary German Art – Maxim Fomenko

Below – “forever”; “Studio”; “ghost.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 29 November 1898: C. S. Lewis, a British novelist, poet, and critic.

Some quotes from the work of C. S. Lewis:

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
“What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
“The greatest evils in the world will not be carried out by men with guns, but by men in suits sitting behind desks.”
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.”

Contemporary Polish Art – Martha Zamarska

Below – “Siberian Nocturne 3”; “Rails at Sunset”; “A Railway Impression XXXI”; “Winter Postcard 5”; “Winter Impression 22”; “Siberian Nocturne 2.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 29 November 1918 – Madeleine L’Engle, an American author and poet.

Some quotes from the work of Madeleine L’Engle:

“The world has been abnormal for so long that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a peaceful and reasonable climate. If there is to be any peace or reason, we have to create it in our own hearts and homes.”
“Because we fail to listen to each other’s stories, we are becoming a fragmented human race.”
“But grief still has to be worked through. It is like walking through water. Sometimes there are little waves lapping about my feet. Sometimes there is an enormous breaker that knocks me down. Sometimes there is a sudden and fierce squall. But I know that many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”
“Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surrounds us or we light a candle to see by.”
“We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.”
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.”

This Date in Art History: Born 29 November 1924 – Jane Freilicher, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Ornamental Cherry”; “Seated Nude with Blue Robe”; “Water Mill”; “Bouquet”; “Pondscape”; “View from the Window.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 29 November 2014 – Mark Strand, a Canadian-born American poet, essayist, and translator.

“The Coming of Light”
by Mark Strand

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

This Date in Art History: Born 29 November 1924 – Jane Freilicher, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Woman Reading”; “Iris and Ink Beetles”; “Flying Point”; “In Winter”; “Cherry blossoms painted outdoors”; “Nude Seated from Behind.”

A Poem for Today

“The Day”
by Peter Everwine

We walked at the edge of the sea, the dog,
still young then, running ahead of us.

Few people.  Gulls.  A flock of pelicans
circled beyond the swells, then closed
their wings and dropped head-long
into the dazzle of light and sea.  You clapped
your hands; the day grew brilliant.

Later we sat at a small table
with wine and food that tasted of the sea.

A perfect day, we said to one another,
so that even when the day ended
and the lights of houses among the hills
came on like a scattering of embers,
we watched it leave without regret.

That night, easing myself toward sleep,
I thought how blindly we stumble ahead
with such hope, a light flares briefly—Ah, Happiness!
then we turn and go on our way again.

But happiness, too, goes on its way,
and years from where we were, I lie awake
in the dark and suddenly it returns—
that day by the sea, that happiness,

though it is not the same happiness,
not the same darkness.

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