Vacation – December 2017

Friends: Because I am going to visit my youngest son in San Francisco, I will not be posting for the next ten days. However, if I encounter anything that I deem particularly beautiful or interesting during my stay, I will certainly share it with you.

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Beleaguered in Bothell – 3 December 2017

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 3 December 2000 – Gwendolyn Brooks, an American poet, author, teacher, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

“Of Robert Frost”
By Gwendolyn Brooks

There is a little lightning in his eyes.
Iron at the mouth.
His brows ride neither too far up nor down.

He is splendid. With a place to stand.

Some glowing in the common blood.
Some specialness within.

Art for Autumn – Part I of III: Dorit Levi (Israeli, contemporary)

Below – Untitled; “Accordionist”; “Cocktail”

Worth a Thousand Words: The Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

Art for Autumn – Part II of III: Charles Levier (French, 1920-2003)

Below – “Two Women”; Untitled (Portrait of a Girl in Black Hat); “Girl Holding Flowers”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 3 December 1857 – Joseph Conrad, a Polish-born British author and one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language.

Some quotes from the work of Joseph Conrad:

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.”
“The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.”
“It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream–making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams…No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence–that which makes its truth, its meaning–its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream-alone.”
“Droll thing life is — that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself — that comes too late — a crop of inextinguishable regrets.”
“We live in the flicker — may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday.”
“Of all the inanimate objects, of all men’s creations, books are the nearest to us for they contain our very thoughts, our ambitions, our indignations, our illusions, our fidelity to the truth, and our persistent leanings to error. But most of all they resemble us in their precious hold on life.”
“Few men realize that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.”
“It’s extraordinary how we go through life with eyes half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. Perhaps it’s just as well; and it may be that it is this very dullness that makes life to the incalculable majority so supportable and so welcome.”
“I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmostphere of tepid scepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary.”
“Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”

Art for Autumn – Part IIII of III: Jiang Li (Chinese, contemporary)

Below – “Solo Flight”

Musings in Autumn: Guy Davenport

“Imagination is like the drunk man who lost his watch and must get drunk again to find it.”

Below – Georg Pauli: “Wandering Man in a Landscape”

This Date in Art History: Died 3 December 1789 – Claude Joseph Vernet, a French painter.

Below – “The Shipwreck”; “Mediterranean Night”; “Italian Landscape”; “Seaport by Moonlight”; “The Night”; “View of Dieppe.”

Musings in Autumn: Camille Paglia

“My advice, as in everything, is to read widely and think for yourself We need more dissent and less dogma.”

Below – Alexander Deineka: “Woman Reading”

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

Below – “Animals”; “Heads”; “Feast of Kings”; “Fishing Schooner”; “Oxen: Scene from the Life of Savages”; “Portrait of E. N. Glebova” (the artist’s sister).

Musings in Autumn: Kenneth Grahame

“Take the Adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!’ ‘Tis but a banging of the door behind you, a blithesome step forward, and you are out of the old life and into the new! Then some day, some day long hence, jog home here if you will, when the cup has been drained and the play has been played, and sit down by your quiet river with a store of goodly memories for company.”

This Date in Art History: Born 3 December 1755 – Gilbert Stuart, on of America’s foremost portraitists.

Below – “George Washington” (unfinished; also known as “The Athenaeum”; “The Skater”; “Thomas Jefferson”; “John Adams”; “Horatio Gates”; “Self-Portrait.”

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Current Events – 3 December 2017

“The more obsessed with personal identity campus liberals become, the less willing they become to engage in reasoned political debate. Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: ‘Speaking as an X’ . . . This is not an anodyne phrase. It tells the listener that I am speaking from a privileged position on this matter. (One never says, ‘Speaking as an gay Asian, I fell incompetent to judge on this matter’). It sets up a wall against questions, which by definition come from a non-X perspective. And it turns the encounter into a power relation: the winner of the argument will be whoever has invoked the morally superior identity and expressed the most outrage at being questioned. So classroom conversations that once might have begun, ‘I think A, and here is my argument’, now take the form, ‘Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B’. This makes perfect sense if you believe that identity determines everything. It means that there is no impartial space for dialogue. White men have one ‘epistemology’, black women have another. So what remains to be said?
What replaces argument, then, is taboo. At times our more privileged campuses can seem stuck in the world of archaic religion. Only those with an approved identity status are, like shamans, allowed to speak on certain matters. Particular groups — today the transgendered — are given temporary totemic significance. Scapegoats — today conservative political speakers — are duly designated and run off campus in a purging ritual. Propositions become pure or impure, not true or false. And not only propositions but simple words. Left identitarians who think of themselves as radical creatures, contesting this and transgressing that, have become like buttoned-up Protestant schoolmarms when it comes to the English language, parsing every conversation for immodest locutions and rapping the knuckles of those who inadvertently use them.” – Mark Lilla; in the words of one writer, “Mark Lilla (born 1956) is an American political scientist, historian of ideas, journalist, and professor of humanities at Columbia University in New York City. A self-described liberal, he typically, though not always, presents views from that perspective.”

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Beleaguered in Bothell – 2 December 2017

Musings in Autumn: May Sarton

“Public education was not founded to give society what it wants. Quite the opposite.”

Art for Autumn – Part I of III: Pierre Lesieur (French, 1922-2011)

Below – “Le Bouteille”; Untitled

Remembering an Influential Native American on the Date of His Death: Died 2 December 1885 – Allen Wright, a Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation from 1866 to 1870. It is Wright who proposed the name “Oklahoma” (from the Choctaw words “okra” and “umma,” meaning “Territory of the Red People”) for the land that would eventually become the state.

Art for Autumn – Part II of III: Michael Leu Chinese/American, contemporary)

Below – “Window”; “Moon Lake Fantasia”; “Cat and Woman”

For Your Information: 2 December is National Fritters Day in the United States.

Art for Autumn – Part III of III: Thomas Leung (Chinese, contemporary)

Below – “Alpine Glow”; “Shell Beach”; “Phoenix Rising”

Remembering an Artist on the Date of Her Death: Died 2 December 2008 – Odetta Holmes, an American singer, actress, guitarist, song writer, and human and civil rights activist.

This Date in Art History: Born 2 December 1891 – Otto Dix, a German painter and printmaker.

Below – “Cosi fan tutte”; “To Beauty”; “Nelly with Toy”; “Family Portrait”; “Leda”; “Self-Portrait with Easel.”

Worth a Thousand Words: A child soldier in Africa.

American Art – Morris Graves: PART I OF II

In the words of one writer, “Morris Graves (August 28, 1910 – May 5, 2001) was an American painter. He was one of the earliest Modern artists from the Pacific Northwest to achieve national and international acclaim.
His style, referred to by some reviewers as Mysticism, used the muted tones of the Northwest environment, Asian aesthetics and philosophy, and a personal iconography of birds, flowers, chalices, and other images to explore the nature of consciousness.”

Below – “Evening Bouquet”; “Snake and Moon”; “Sunflower”; “Bird Singing in the Moon”; “Lotus”; “Still Life with Bowl of Pomegranates.”

Musings in Autumn: Groucho Marx

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

American Art – Morris Graves (1910-2001): PART II OF II

In the words of one writer, “An article in a 1953 issue of ‘Life’ magazine cemented Graves’ reputation as a major figure of the ‘Northwest School’ of artists. He lived and worked mostly in Western Washington, but spent considerable time traveling and living in Europe and Asia, and spent the last several years of his life in Loleta, California.”

Below – “Bird of the Spirit”; “Hibernation”; “Young forest pine in bloom”; “Time of Change”; “Bird, Moon and Falling Stars”; “Surf and Bird.”

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Current Events – 2 December 2017

“Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.” ― Paul Horner (1978-2017), American writer, comedian, and contributor to news websites.

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Beleaguered in Bothell – 1 December 2017

Greeting December

Art for December – Paul Cornoyer: “December”


In the words of one writer, “December got its name from the Latin word decem (meaning ten) because it was originally the tenth month of the year in the Roman calendar, which began in March. The winter days following December were not included as part of any month. Later, the months of January and February were created out of the monthless period and added to the beginning of the calendar, but December retained its name.”

Art for December – Barbara Fox: “December Sun”

A Poem for December

“I Heard a Bird Sing”
By Oliver Herford

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Art for December – Hannah Woodman: “December Snow”

Musings in December: Edgar Allan Poe

“Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December…”

Art for December – Andrew Wyeth: “The Granary”

For Your Information: 1 December is National Eat a Red Apple Day in the United States.

Art for December – Claude Monet: “Snow at Argenteuil”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 1 December 1987 – James Baldwin, an American novelist, playwright, essayist, and social critic.

Some quotes from the work of James Baldwin:

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.”
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
“Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”

Art for December – Shaun Peterson: “Morning Swim”

Worth a Thousand Words: A wind storm in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Art for December – Grandma Moses: “Covered Bridge”

A Second 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.

Below – Shi Zhong: “Winter Landscape with Fisherman”

Art for December – Childe Hassam: “Melting Snow”

Musings in December: Dylan Thomas

“The crisp path through the field in this December snow, in the deep dark, where we trod the buried grass like ghosts on dry toast.”

Art for December: Vincent van Gogh: “Landscape in the Snow”

A Third 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 – Nathalie Parenteau: “Denali”

Musings in December: John Geddes

“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory.”

Art for December – Utagawa Hiroshige: “Night Snow at Kambara”

A Fourth Poem for December

“Stone Thoughts”
By Robert Pack

I speak cold silent words a stone might speak
If it had words or consciousness,
Watching December moonlight on the mountain peak,
Relieved of mortal hungers, the whole mess
Of needs, desires, ambitions, wishes, hopes.
This stillness in me knows the sky’s abyss,
Reflected by blank snow along bare slopes,
If it had words or consciousness,
Would echo what a thinking stone might say
To praise oblivion words can’t possess
As inorganic muteness goes its way.
There’s no serenity without the thought serene,
Owl-flight without spread wings, honed eyes, hooked beak,
Absence without the meaning absence means.
To rescue bleakness from the bleak,
I speak cold silent words a stone might speak.

Art for December – Jim Robb: “Jack London’s Cabin”

Welcome, Wonderful December!

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Beleaguered in Bothell – 30 November 2017

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 30 November 1667 – Jonathan Swift, an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, cleric, and author of “A Modest Proposal” and “Gulliver’s Travels.”

Some quotes from the work of Jonathan Swift:

“When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”
“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”
“Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.”
“You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday”
“May you live every day of your life.”

Below – Charles Jervas: “Portrait of Jonathan Swift”

Art for Autumn – Part I of II: Sam Gilliam (American, contemporary)

Below – “Bursting”; “Solstice III”; “Along”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Birth: Born 30 November 1874 – Winston Churchill, British statesman, army officer, writer, and recipient of the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature. Whatever else one might think of or write about Winston Churchill (like everyone, the man had his failings), he must be credited with helping save Western Civilization from barbarism – at least for a time.

Some quotes from the work of Winston Churchill:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
“For myself I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
“Nourish your hopes, but do not overlook realities.”
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

Art for Autumn – Part II of II: Patricia Leroux (French Polynesian, contemporary)

Below – “Memory”; “Femme Turpuoise”

For Your Information: 30 November is National Mousse Day in the United States.

Contemporary French Art – Linda LeKinff

In the words of one writer, “In the bold and vibrant creations of Linda LeKinff, elements of her beloved masters permeate her highly original visions, embuing them with a force greater than the sum of their parts. Yet, when a body of her work is gathered for an exhibition, there is no mistaking that such a collection is a coherent outpouring of one very focused and original mind, drawing on a diverse treasure of artistic influences and personal experiences. Drawing from her travels, dreams, reading and imagination, Linda Le Kinff has taken her place among contemporary artists whose work frees us from the mundane reality of everyday life, not with elaborate fantasy but with a sure-handed rendering of beauty and elegance in line with her personal view on painting.”

Below – “ Welcome”; Untitled Woman; “Noemie Des Iles”; “Spectacles”; “Double”; “Eclypse.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 30 November 1874 – Lucy Maud Montgomery, a Canadian writer, poet, and author of the series of novels featuring Anne Shirley, beginning with “Anne of Green Gables.”

“A Request”
By Lucy Maud Montgomery

When I am dead
I would that ye make my bed
On that low-lying, windy waste by the sea,
Where the silvery grasses rustle and lisp;
There, where the crisp
Foam-flakes shall fly over me,
And murmurs creep
From the ancient heart of the deep,
Lulling me ever, I shall most sweetly sleep.
While the eerie sea-folk croon
On the long dim shore by the light of a waning moon.

I shall not hear
Clamor of young life anear,
Voices of gladness to stir an unrest;
Only the wandering mists of the sea
Shall companion me;
Only the wind in its quest
Shall come where I lie,
Or the rain from the brooding sky
With furtive footstep shall pass me by,
And never a dream of the earth
Shall break on my slumber with lure of an out-lived mirth.

This Date in Art History: Died 30 November 1982 – Peter Blume, an American Painter and Sculptor.

Below – “Cow in Pasture”; “The Rock”; “Study for Boulders of Avila”; Autumn”; “Passage to Aetna”; “Light of the World.”

Worth a Thousand Words: One of the three Greek temples (circa 600-450 BCE) in Paestum, Italy.

American Art – David Byrd (1926-2013), Part I of II

Artist Statement: I don’t know what school of painting I am in, if any.  It doesn’t matter to me because I have some talent for likenesses and I stick to that. And I find all of my restlessness in life can be put into a composition on canvas or expressed in a sculpture.  For me, painting is a matter of religion; to keep on painting is the main thing.”

Below – “25 Cent Elephant”; “Three Houses”; “Carnival”; “1/2 Door”; “Balcony with Screen”; “Card Players.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 30 November 1998 – Margret Walker, an American writer and poet.

By Margaret Walker

When I was a child I knew red miners
dressed raggedly and wearing carbide lamps.
I saw them come down red hills to their camps
dyed with red dust from old Ishkooda mines.
Night after night I met them on the roads,
or on the streets in town I caught their glance;
the swing of dinner buckets in their hands,
and grumbling undermining all their words.

I also lived in low cotton country
where moonlight hovered over ripe haystacks,
or stumps of trees, and croppers’ rotting shacks
with famine, terror, flood, and plague near by;
where sentiment and hatred still held sway
and only bitter land was washed away.

American Art – David Byrd (1926-2013), Part II of II

In the words of one writer, “Although David was prolific, he never exhibited his work and rarely showed it to anyone. His light filled home in Sidney Center contained almost every work of art he ever created. David had great difficulty forming lasting relationships. Late in life he became reclusive and lived a largely invisible life.
A chance meeting with a neighbor in the fall of 2012 led to David’s first professional exhibition seven months later. He was 87 years old. David Byrd – Introduction: A Life of Observation at the Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, Washington, featured 85 paintings, three sculptures and numerous drawings. By the end of the exhibition most of the work had sold. Finally David received the recognition that had eluded him all his life.”

Below – “Crystal Lake”; “Chapter Four”; “Man Waving”; “Michigan Upstairs”; “Stairway”; “Self Portrait.”

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Current Events – 30 November 2017

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” – Jonathan Swift.

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Beleaguered in Bothell – 29 November 2017

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 29 November 1832 – Louisa May Alcott, an American novelist, poet, and author of “Little Women.”

Some quotes from the work of Louisa May Alcott:

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
“I ask not for any crown
But that which all may win;
Nor try to conquer any world
Except the one within.”
“Human minds are more full of mysteries than any written book and more changeable than the cloud shapes in the air.”
“Wild roses are fairest, and nature a better gardener than art.”
“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.”
“Simple, genuine goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.”
“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”

Art for Autumn – Part I of III: Charles Lee (Korean, contemporary)

Below – “Con Passione”; Untitled; “Night Music II”

For Your Information: 29 November is National Lemon Cream Pie Day in the United States.

Art for Autumn – Part II of III: Kenneth Callahan (American, 1905-1986)

Below – “The Valley”; “Dante’s Inferno”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 29 November 1918 – Madeleine L’Engle, an American writer, poet, and author of “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Some quotes from the work of Madeleine L’Engle:

“If we commit ourselves to one person for life, this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather, it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession but participation.”
“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.”
“The only way to cope with something deadly serious is to try to treat it a little lightly.”
“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.”

Art for Autumn – Part III of III: Ferdinand Leger (French, contemporary)

Below – “Still Life With Cactus”; “Le Partie De Campagne”

Worth a Thousand Words: Wine Bay, Australia.

This Date in Art History: Died 29 November 2012 – Sherab Walden Beru, a Tibetan painter.

Below – “Thangka Painting 4”; “Thangka Painting 5”; “Thangka Painting 6”; “Thangka Painting 1”; “Thangka Painting 3.”

Musings in Autumn: Camille Paglia

“Beauty is our weapon against nature; by it we make objects, giving them limit, symmetry, proportion. Beauty halts and freezes the melting flux of nature.”

Below – John Nieto: “Buffalo Medicine”

This Date in Art History: Born 29 November 1924 – Jane Freilicher, an American painter and poet.

Below – “Champion Flowers”; “Painter in the Studio”; “Bouquet”; “Pierrot and Peonies”; “Flowers in Armchair”; “Twelfth Street and Beyond.”

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

“Keeping Things Whole”
By Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

This Date in Art History: Born 29 November 1933 – James Rosenquist, an American painter and illustrator.

Below – “The Memory Continues but the Clock Disappears”; “Shriek”; “For Love”; “Leaky Neck”; “Screen Test”; “Night Transition.”

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Current Events – 29 November 2017

“Think about it…
The Republicans have gone from Abraham Lincoln to Sarah Palin to Donald Trump.
No wonder they don’t believe in evolution.” – Andy Borowitz, an American writer, comedian, satirist, and actor.

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