Sentient in San Francisco – 10 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 10 February 1917 – John William Waterhouse, an English Pre-Raphaelite painter: Part I of III.

Below – “Dolce far Niente”; “Hylas and the Nymphs”; “Cleopatra”; “Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus”; “Consulting the Oracle”; “The Magic Circle.”

Musings in Winter: Goethe

“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”

This Date in Art History: Died 10 February 1917 – John William Waterhouse, an English Pre-Raphaelite painter: Part II of III.

Below – “The Lady of Shalott”; “Ophelia”; “Ulysses and the Sirens”; “Wildflowers”; “The Crystal Ball”; “Boreas.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Birth: Born 10 February 1890 – Boris Pasternak, a Russian poet, novelist, literary translator, and recipient of the 1958 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Boris Pasternak:

“When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.
I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.”
“Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.”
“About dreams. It is usually taken for granted that you dream of something that has made a particularly strong impression on you during the day, but it seems to me it’s just the contrary. Often it’s something you paid no attention to at the time — a vague thought that you didn´t bother to think out to the end, words spoken without feeling and which passed unnoticed — these are the things that return at night, clothed in flesh and blood, and they become the subjects of dreams, as if to make up for having been ignored during waking hours.”
“They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the ‘blaze of passion’ often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet.”
“And now listen carefully. You in others-this is your soul. This is what you are. This is what your consciousness has breathed and lived on and enjoyed throughout your life-your soul, your immortality, your life in others. And what now? You have always been in others and you will remain in others. And what does it matter to you if later on that is called your memory? This will be you-the you that enters the future and becomes a part of it.”

This Date in Art History: Died 10 February 1917 – John William Waterhouse, an English Pre-Raphaelite painter: Part III of III.

Below – “The Soul of the Rose”; “The Charmer”; “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”; “Penelope and the Suitors”; “The Mermaid”; “Destiny.”

A Poem for Today

“Heaven’s Gate”
by Robert Morgan

In her nineties and afraid
of weather and of falling if
she wandered far outside her door,
my mother took to strolling in
the house. Around and round she’d go,
stalking into corners, backtrack,
then turn and speed down hallway, stop
almost at doorways, skirt a table,
march up to the kitchen sink and
wheel to left, then swing into
the bathroom, almost stumble on
a carpet there. She must have walked
a hundred miles or more among
her furniture and family pics,
mementos of her late husband.
Exercising heart and limb,
outwalking stroke, attack, she strode,
not restless like a lion in zoo,
but with a purpose and a gait,
and kept her eyes on heaven’s gate.

Below – Ruskin Stone: “Old woman in blue dress”

Contemporary Latvian Art – Elina Plume

Below – “Distance Of Thoughts”; “Green Alley”; “Anthem of the Tranquility”; “Warmth II”; “The Corner”; “When You Wake Up (tondo).”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 10 February 1957 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American writer and author of “Little House on the Prairie.”

Some quotes from the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder:

“The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
“A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.”
“We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd.”
“It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature.”
“No one has ever achieved anything from the smallest to the greatest unless the dream was dreamed first.”
“The stream of passing years is like a river with people being carried along in the current. Some are swept along, protesting, fighting all the way, trying to swim back up the stream, longing for the shores that they have passed, clutching at anything to retard their progress, frightened by the onward rush of the strong current and in danger of being overwhelmed by the waters. Others go with the current freely, trusting themselves to the buoyancy of the water.”
“Home is the nicest word there is.”
“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.”
“As you read my stories of long ago I hope you will remember that things truly worthwhile and that will give you happiness are the same now as they were then. It is not the things you have that make you happy. It is love and kindness and helping each other and just plain being good.”
“The only stupid thing about words is the spelling of them.”
“Life was not intended to be simply a round of work, no matter how interesting and important that work may be. A moment’s pause to watch the glory of a sunrise or a sunset is soul-satisfying, while a bird’s song will set the steps to music all day long.”
“Remember me with smiles and laughter, for that is how I’ll remember you all. If you can only remember me with tears, then don’t remember me at all.”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 9 February 2019

Contemporary Canadian Art – Isabelle Ferron Marchand

Below – “It’s There That I Belong”; “By the beach”; “Life is Fantasy”; “Eventual Life:; “Aria con variazoni”; “Give Wings to Your Dreams.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date if His Birth: Born 9 February 1898 – Jukichi Yagi, a Japanese poet.

by Jukichi Yagi

Because one calls,
Something appears.
Because one does not call,
Something disappears.

Contemporary Canadian Art – Detief Gotzens

Below – “Self Portrait in rational space”; “The Chairman’s dilemma”; “Excavations no. 05”; “Departed 01”; “Enchanted forest #1”; “Small Abstractions, 02/35.”

Remembering a Great Statesman on the Date of His Death: Died 9 February 1995 – J. William Fulbright, attorney, United States Senator and founder of the Fulbright Program.

Some quotes from the work of J. William Fulbright:

“The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership…. a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures.”
“The rapprochement of peoples is only possible when differences of culture and outlook are respected and appreciated rather than feared and condemned, when the common bond of human dignity is recognized as the essential bond for a peaceful world.”
“Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.”
“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy-the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately. The simple purpose of the exchange program…is to erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against one another. The exchange program is not a panacea but an avenue of hope.”
“In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.”
“The price of empire is America’s soul, and that price is too high.”
“A nation’s budget is full of moral implications; it tells what a society cares about and what it does not care about; it tells what its values are.”
“To criticize one’s country is to do it a service…. Criticism, in short, is more than a right; it is an act of patriotism-a higher form of patriotism, I believe, than the familiar rituals and national adulation.”

Contemporary American Art – Maria Folger: Part I of II.

Below – “If it makes you happy”; “If not now, when?”; “Summer 43”; “Kiss me quick”; “Sunshine”; “red lips.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Birth: Born 9 February 1940 – John Maxwell Coetzee, a South African-Australian novelist, essayist, linguist, translator, and recipient of the 2003 Novel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of J. M. Coetzee:

“The highest type of intelligence, says Aristotle, manifests itself in an ability to see connections where no one has seen them before, that is, to think analogically.”
“Let me say it openly: we are surrounded by an enterprise of degradation, cruelty, and killing which rivals anything the Third Reich was capable of, indeed dwarfs it, in that ours is an enterprise without end, self-regenerating, bringing rabbits, rats, poultry, livestock ceaselessly into the world for the purpose of killing them.”
“Anyone who says that life matters less to an animal than it does to us has not held in his hands an animal fighting for its life. The whole of the being of the animal is thrown into that fight, without reserve. When you say that the fight lacks a dimension of intellectual or imaginative horror, I agree. It is not the mode of being animals to have an intellectual horror: their whole being is in the living flesh…I urge you to walk, flank to flank, beside the beast that is prodded down the chute to his executioner.”
“Children all over the world consort quite naturally with animals. They don’t see any dividing line. That is something they have to be taught, just as they have to be taught it is all right to kill and eat them.”
“Machiavelli says that if as a ruler you accept that your every action must pass moral scrutiny, you will without fail be defeated by an opponent who submits to no such moral test. To hold on to power, you have not only to master the crafts of deception and treachery but to be prepared to use them where necessary.”
“I know somewhat too much; and from this knowledge, once one has been infected, there seems to be no recovering.”
“I am not the we of anyone.”
“A book should be an axe to chop open the frozen sea inside us.”

Contemporary American Art – Maria Folger: Part II of II.
Below – “Heaven in your eyes”; “Texting”; “In the bathroom”; “Let me know”; “2 minutes break”; “candice.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 9 February 1874 – Amy Lowell, an American poet, critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

by Amy Lowell

When night drifts along the streets of the city,
And sifts down between the uneven roofs,
My mind begins to peek and peer.
It plays at ball in old, blue Chinese gardens,
And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples,
Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.
It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,
And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.
How light and laughing my mind is,
When all the good folk have put out their bed-room candles,
And the city is still!

Below – Salvador Dali: “Woman at Window”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 8 February 2019

Contemporary German Art – Christian Kabuß

Below – “Run-Down Run-Up”; “P. Did”; “Sunset, rain”; “Abandoned in Cafe Bulgaria”; “Artistic Filling of a Memory Gap”; “Streets of Xian.”

Musings in Winter: Sheri L. Dew

“Life, like classical music, is full of difficult passages that are conquered as much through endurance and determination as through any particular skill.”

Contemporary American Art – Janice Sztabnik

Below – “many voices”; “The Hours”; “Morning”; “Fiesta”; “Creatures big and small.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 8 February 1850 – Kate Chopin, an American novelist and short story writer.

Some quotes from the work of Kate Chopin:

“Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.”
“I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?”
“There are some people who leave impressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water.”
“She was moved by a kind of commiseration… a pity for that colorless existence which never uplifted its possessor beyond the region of blind contentment, in which no moment of anguish ever visited her soul, in which she would never have the taste of life’s delirium.”
“But the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing. How few of us ever emerge from such beginning! How many souls perish in its tumult!”
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.”
“The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”

Contemporary Dutch Art – Peter de Boer: Part I of II.

Below – “To the Sea”; “Monkey plush what”; “From my Tent to the Sea”; “Jungle Greenhouse”; “Skyhouse”; “Angry man on the television.”

A Poem for Today

“Carried Away”
By April Lindner

One rainy night we sat in traffic
and, overtired in back, you saw
a wind-whipped grocery bag afloat
beyond the clutch of jagged branches,
swept by gusts and whirled in eddies.
A sudden downdraft swooped it earthward,
where it danced till with a whoosh
a current luffed it past the power lines.
Disowned by gravity, small ghost
not yet snagged by twiggy fingers,
it couldn’t reach the earth. Thin-skinned,
it pulsed, translucent jellyfish.
You wept and pled to be let out
into the dark and slanted rain,
somehow to save that desolate thing.
The light turned green and still you begged,
‘Go back, go back,’ on its behalf,
caught and held, bossed and tossed
by a will much greater than its own.

Contemporary Dutch Art – Peter de Boer: Part II of II.

Below – “Paradise Van”; “Monkey plush”; “Surfview II”; “Waves”; “Surfer.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 8 February 1999 – Iris Murdoch, an Irish-born British novelist and philosopher.

Some quotes from the work of Iris Murdoch:

“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.”
“Our actions are like ships which we may watch set out to sea, and not know when or with what cargo they will return to port.”
“There is no beyond, there is only here, the infinitely small, infinitely great and utterly demanding present.”
“Happiness is a matter of one’s most ordinary everyday mode of consciousness being busy and lively and unconcerned with self.”
“The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”
“Education doesn’t make you happy. Nor does freedom. We don’t become happy just because we’re free – if we are. Or because we’ve been educated – if we have. But because education may be the means by which we realize we are happy. It opens our eyes, our ears, tells us where delights are lurking, convinces us that there is only one freedom of any importance whatsoever, that of the mind, and gives us the assurance – the confidence – to walk the path our mind, our educated mind, offers.”
“The most essential and fundamental aspect of culture is the study of literature, since this is an education in how to picture and understand human situations.”
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 7 February 2019

Contemporary Polish Art – Agata Zychlinska

Below – “Girl – friend”; “In the bath”; “The room”; “Conversation”; “at midnight”; “Woman’s world.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 7 February 1812 – Charles Dickens, an English novelist and social critic.

Some quotes from the work of Charles Dickens:

“The most important thing in life is to stop saying ‘I wish’ and start saying ‘I will.’ Consider nothing impossible, then treat possibilities as probabilities.”
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
“A very little key will open a very heavy door.”
“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today.” “Procrastination is the thief of time.”
“Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible.”
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.”
“There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart.”
“Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Contemporary British Art – Paul Bennett

Below – “Dawn Valley 2”; “The Infinite Blue”; “From the Sea”; “Get Wild”; “Goodbye to Yesterday”; “Beyond the Dawn.”

Musings in Winter: Attributed to Sinclair Lewis (American writer and 1930 Nobel Laureate in Literature – born 7 February 1885))

“When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Contemporary American Art – Mark Crenshaw: Part I of II.

Below – “extra ordinary rooster”; “cows in irrigation”; “apple blossom”; “two sunflowers”; “dairy scale”; “stravinsky chicken.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 7 February 2001 – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, an American aviator, writer, and author of “Gift from the Sea.”

Some quotes from the work of Anne Morrow Lindbergh:

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”
“We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of time and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom.”
“Perhaps middle-age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.”
“Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.”
“We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends, and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void… We can do our housework with soap-opera heroes at our side… Now instead of planting our solitude with our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.”
“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”
“I feel we are all islands – in a common sea.”

Contemporary American Art – Mark Crenshaw: Part II of II.

Below – “lazy dairy”; “cherry blossom cross”; “root 5 dairy”; “uinta lilies with dark outlines”; “brown chicken with long shadow”; “suffolk square.”

A Poem for Today

“Animal Time”
by Carol V. Davis

I do better in animal time,
a creeping dawn, slow ticking toward dusk.
In the middle of the day on the Nebraska prairie,
I’m unnerved by subdued sounds, as if listening
through water, even the high-pitched drone of the
cicadas faint; the blackbirds half-heartedly singing.
As newlyweds, my parents drove cross country to
Death Valley, last leg of their escape from New York,
the thick soups of their immigrant mothers, generations
of superstitions that squeezed them from all sides.
They camped under stars that meant no harm.
It was the silence that alerted them to danger.
They climbed back into their tiny new car, locked
its doors and blinked their eyes until daylight.

Below – Death Valley at night.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 6 February 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 6 February 1879 – Other Friesz, a French painter.

Below – “Paysage les Jars”; “Roofs and Cathedral in Rouen”; “Landscape with Figures”; “Paysage a La Ciotat”; “Le Travail à l’Automne”; “The Bathers of Andelys.”

Musings in Winter: E. L. Doctorow

“One day you stepped in snow, the next in mud, water soaked in your boots and froze them at night, it was the next worst thing to pure blizzardry, it was weather that wouldn’t let you settle.”

Below – Heidi Malott: “Winter Patchwork”

This Date in Art History: Died 6 February 1918 – Gustav Klimt, an Austrian painter and illustrator: Part I of II.

Below – “The Kiss”; “Adele Bloch-Bauer”; “Farm Garden with Sunflowers”; “Schubert at the Piano”; “Tranquil Pond”; “Philosophie.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 6 February 1995 – James Merrill, an American poet, playwright, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, and two-time recipient of the National Book Award.

“The Candid Decorator”
by James Merrill

I thought I would do over
All of it. I was tired
Of scars and stains, of bleared
Panes, tinge of the liver.
The fuchsia in the center
Looked positively weird
I felt it—dry as paper.
I called a decorator.
In next to no time such
A nice young man appeared.
What had I in mind?
Oh, lots and lots of things—
Fresh colors, pinks and whites
That one would want to touch;
The windows redesigned;
The plant thrown out in favor,
Say, of a small tree,
An orange or a pear . . .
He listened dreamily.
Combing his golden hair
He measured with one glance
The distance I had come
To reach this point. And then
He put away his comb
He said: “Extravagance!
Suppose it could be done.
You’d have to give me carte
Blanche and an untold sum.
But to be frank, my dear,
Living here quite alone
(Oh I have seen it, true,
But me you needn’t fear)
You’ve one thing to the good:
While not exactly smart,
Your wee place, on the whole
It couldn’t be more ‘you.’
Still, if you like—” I could
Not speak. He had seen my soul,
Had said what I dreaded to hear.
Ending the interview
I rose, blindly. I swept
To show him to the door,
And knelt, when he had left,
By my Grand Rapids chair,
And wept until I laughed
And laughed until I wept.

Below – David Robinson: “Weeping Man”

This Date in Art History: Died 6 February 1918 – Gustav Klimt, an Austrian painter and illustrator: Part II of II.

Below – “The Three Ages of Woman”; “Hope II”; “Birch Forest”; “Danae”; “The Maiden”; “Water Serpents.”

Musings in Winter: John Green

“There’s an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem that’s been rumbling around inside me ever since I first read it, and part of it goes: ‘Blown from the dark hill hither to my door/ Three flakes, then four/ Arrive, then many more.’ You can count the first three flakes, and the fourth. Then language fails, and you have to settle in and try to survive the blizzard.”

Contemporary Canadian Art – Synnove Seidman

Below – “Windy Tropics”; “Cuqui #1”; “Out Of Place #3”; “Falling Together”; “Dark Blooms in Blue.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 6 February 2014 – Maxine Kumin, an American author and poet.

“How It Is”
by Maxine Kumin

Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
you’ve come to visit, he’s ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
delivered up last August on Bay State Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
a flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.

I think of the last day of your life,
old friend, how I would unwind it, paste
it together in a different collage,
back from the death car idling in the garage,
back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,
reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish
into a ceremony of sandwich,
running the home movie backward to a space
we could be easy in, a kitchen place
with vodka and ice, our words like living meat.

Dear friend, you have excited crowds
with your example. They swell
like wine bags, straining at your seams.
I will be years gathering up our words,
fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
to put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 5 February 2019: Lunar New Year

Happy New Year!

5 February 2019 is Lunar New Year’s Day. It is the advent of the Year of the Pig, and it is the year 4717 on the Chinese Calendar.

Contemporary American Art – Chloe Hedden

Below – “Green Peony”; “Salt Spring Peony II”; “Constance”; “Peony for Emme”; “Giant Dahlia”; “Bliss.”

Woo Pig!

Good News, Razorback Fans: No matter what ill fortune might befall the Hogs this year, it will still be the Year of the Pig.

Contemporary British/Thai Art – Thomas Donaldson

Below – “1-11-19 portrait of a girl”; “1-19-19 down”; “5-58-18 male figure”;”10-12-18 back study”; “1-28-19 fluidity”; “1-24-19 wavering.”

A Poem for the Lunar New Year

“Chinese New Year”
by Lynda Hull

The dragon is in the street dancing beneath windows
pasted with colored squares, past the man
who leans into the phone booth’s red pagoda, past
crates of doves and roosters veiled

until dawn. Fireworks complicate the streets
with sulphur as people exchange gold
and silver foil, money to appease ghosts
who linger, needy even in death. I am

almost invisible. Hands could pass through me
effortlessly. This is how it is
to be so alien that my name falls from me, grows
untranslatable as the shop signs,

the odors of ginseng and black fungus that idle
in the stairwell, the corridor where
the doors are blue months ajar. Hands
gesture in the smoke, the partial moon

of a face. For hours the soft numeric
click of mah-jongg tiles drifts
down the hallway where languid Mai trails
her musk of sex and narcotics.

There is no grief in this, only the old year
consuming itself, the door knob blazing
in my hand beneath the lightbulb’s electric jewel.
Between voices and fireworks

wind works bricks to dust—‘hush, hush’—
no language I want to learn. I can touch
the sill worn by hands I’ll never know
in this room with its low table

where I brew chrysanthemum tea. The sign
for Jade Palace sheds green corollas
on the floor. It’s dangerous to stand here
in the chastening glow, darkening

my eyes in the mirror with the gulf of the rest
of my life widening away from me, waiting
for the man I married to pass beneath
the sign of the building, to climb

the five flights and say his Chinese name for me.
He’ll rise up out of the puzzling streets
where men pass bottles of rice liquor, where
the new year is liquor, the black bottle

the whole district is waiting for, like
some benevolent arrest—the moment
when men and women turn to each other and dissolve
each bad bet, every sly mischance,

the dalliance of hands. They turn in lamplight
the way I turn now. Wai Min is in the doorway.
He brings fish. He brings lotus root.
He brings me ghost money.

Below – Chinese joss paper (ghost money).

Contemporary Spanish Art – Emma Gomara: Part I of II.

Below – “Blue Colours”; “Stranger Things”; “Walking a Sunday”; “Yellow in Blue”; “Taking pics in SF.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 5 February 1972 – Marianne Moore, an American poet, critic, translator, and editor.

by Marianne Moore

My father used to say,
“Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow’s grave
nor the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self reliant like the cat —
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse’s limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth —
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint.”
Nor was he insincere in saying, “Make my house your inn.”
Inns are not residences.

Below – Daler Usmanov: “Solitude”


Contemporary Spanish Art – Emma Gomara: Part II of II.

Below – “Immensity”; “M. Diving”; “Cheese…in Lisbon”; “Boy in blue”; “Life is Dream.”

A Poem for the Lunar New Year

“Good Bones”
by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Below – Katie m. Berggren: “Warmth in the Cold”

I Wish Everyone a Happy New Year!

Below – a Tianjin folk painting of Chinese New Year.

A Poem for the New Year

“For Calling the Spirit Back from Wandering the Earth in Its Human Feet”
by Joy Harjo

Put down that bag of potato chips, that white bread, that bottle of pop.

Turn off that cellphone, computer, and remote control.

Open the door, then close it behind you.

Take a breath offered by friendly winds. They travel the earth gathering essences of plants to clean.

Give it back with gratitude.

If you sing it will give your spirit lift to fly to the stars’ ears and back.

Acknowledge this earth who has cared for you since you were a dream planting itself precisely within your parents’ desire.

Let your moccasin feet take you to the encampment of the guardians who have known you before time, who will be there after time. They sit before the fire that has been there without time.

Let the earth stabilize your postcolonial insecure jitters.

Be respectful of the small insects, birds and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans have brought down upon them.

Don’t worry.
The heart knows the way though there may be high-rises, interstates, checkpoints, armed soldiers, massacres, wars, and those who will despise you because they despise themselves.

The journey might take you a few hours, a day, a year, a few years, a hundred, a thousand or even more.

Watch your mind. Without training it might run away and leave your heart for the immense human feast set by the thieves of time.

Do not hold regrets.

When you find your way to the circle, to the fire kept burning by the keepers of your soul, you will be welcomed.

You must clean yourself with cedar, sage, or other healing plant.

Cut the ties you have to failure and shame.

Let go the pain you are holding in your mind, your shoulders, your heart, all the way to your feet. Let go the pain of your ancestors to make way for those who are heading in our direction.

Ask for forgiveness.

Call upon the help of those who love you. These helpers take many forms: animal, element, bird, angel, saint, stone, or ancestor.

Call your spirit back. It may be caught in corners and creases of shame, judgment, and human abuse.

You must call in a way that your spirit will want to return.

Speak to it as you would to a beloved child.

Welcome your spirit back from its wandering. It may return in pieces, in tatters. Gather them together. They will be happy to be found after being lost for so long.

Your spirit will need to sleep awhile after it is bathed and given clean clothes.

Now you can have a party. Invite everyone you know who loves and supports you. Keep room for those who have no place else to go.

Make a giveaway, and remember, keep the speeches short.

Then, you must do this: help the next person find their way through the dark.

Below – Ellen Uytewaal (Hopi): “Spirit of Winter”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 4 February 2019

Contemporary British Art – Paola Bazz

Below – “What Now? #1”; “stripes portrait #1”; “Shredded portrait #2”; “Can you see me #3”; “Shredded Portrait #1”; “Beyond my face #2.”

Remembering an Important Activist on the Date of Her Birth: Born 4 February 1913 – Rosa Parks, an American civil rights activist. In the words of one writer, “Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The United States Congress has called her ‘the first lady of civil rights’ and ‘the mother of the freedom movement.’”

Some quotes from the work of Rosa Parks:

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”
“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.”
“I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.”
“Each person must live their life as a model for others.”

Contemporary British Art – Olha Pryymak: Part I of II.

Below – “By the time I walk”; “The beloved”; “Viola Tricolor/Wild Pansy for pain relief”; “With adoration, with fertile tears, With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Death: Died 4 February 1968 – Neal Cassady, an American novelist, poet, and member of the Beat Generation. Cassady features prominently in both Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road” and Allen Ginsberg’s poetry.

Some quotes from the work of Neal Cassady:

“Some events are in the area of the soul where words cannot penetrate.”
“Billboards, billboards, drink this, eat that, use all manner of things, everyone, the best, the cheapest, the purest and most satisfying of all their available counterparts. Red lights flicker on every horizon, airplanes beware; cars flash by, more lights. Workers repair the gas main. Signs, signs, lights, lights, streets, streets.”
“My prose has no individual style as such, but is rather an unspoken and still unexpressed groping toward the personal. There is something there that wants to come out; something of my own that must be said. Yet, perhaps, words are not the way for me.”
“Sometimes I sits and thinks. Other times I sits and drinks, but mostly I just sits.”
“And so love goes. And so life goes. And so I go.”

Below – Neal Cassady, left, with Jack Kerouac in 1952. Photograph by Cassady’s wife Carolyn.

Contemporary British Art – Olha Pryymak: Part II of II.

Below – “Those repulsive yellow flowers II”; “Mixture no. 1”; “Blueberry leaf tea for improving memory”; “How do I work IV (or Ophelia’s remedy).”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Death: Died 4 February 1970 – Louise Bogan, an American poet and critic.

“To Be Sung on the Water”
by Louise Bogan

Beautiful, my delight,
Pass, as we pass the wave.
Pass, as the mottled night
Leaves what it cannot save,
Scattering dark and bright.

Beautiful, pass and be
Less than the guiltless shade
To which our vows were said;
Less than the sound of the oar
To which our vows were made, –
Less than the sound of its blade
Dipping the stream once more.

Below – Wayne Edwards: “Couple in Boat”

Contemporary British Art – Daisy Clarke

Below – “Pink moon”; “seashells and coral”; “Stormy weather”; “Spring”; “Landscape in emerald green”; “Ruin in the woods.”

A Poem for Today

“There Have Come Soft Rains”
by John Philip Johnson

In kindergarten during the Cold War,
mid-day late bells jolted us,
sending us single file into the hallway,
where we sat, pressing our heads
between our knees, waiting.

During one of the bomb drills,
Annette was standing.
My mother said I would talk on and on
about her, about how pretty she was.
I still remember her that day,
curly hair and pretty dress,
looking perturbed the way
little children do.
Why Annette? There’s nothing
to be upset about—
The bombs won’t get us,
I’ve seen what’s to come—
it is the days, the steady
pounding of days, like gentle rain,
that will be our undoing.

Below – John Lauter: “Old Woman”

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Sentient in San Francisco – 3 February 2019

Contemporary Polish Art – Robert Bubel

Below – “Twilight I”; “Spots On The Sun I”; “Straight on, near the canal”; “A piece of blue”; “Countryside”; “Loneliness.”

Remembering a Musician on the Date of His Death: Died 3 February 1959 – The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson Jr.), an American singer, musician, and songwriter.

Contemporary German Art – Irma Laube

Below – “The way is the aim”; “When the north is blooming”; “On fresh air”; “Blue orchids”; “Woman on the chair”; “After the rain.”

Remembering a Musician on the Date of His Death: Died 3 February 1959 – Ritchie Valens (Richard Steven Valenzuela), a Mexican-American singer songwriter, and guitarist.

Contemporary Canadian Art – Synnove Seidman

Below – “Windy Tropics’; “Dark Blooms in Blue”; “Happy Here”; “The Path Is Blocked”; “Landscapes of Consciousness”; “Forest Fires I.”

Remembering a Musician on the Date of His Death: Died 3 February 1959 – Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley), an American musician, singer-songwriter, and record producer.

Contemporary British Art – Ashleigh Trim

Below – “She Tastes Like”; “The Bunting”; “Firefly”; “Into the Gardens”; “Up to your Knees”; “Loosing Track of Sunlight.”

The Day the Music Died: 3 February 1959 – The Big Bopper, Richie Valens, and Buddy Holly are killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.

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Sentient in San Francisco – 2 February 2019

Happy Groundhog Day 2019

News from Punxsutawney: Phil the Groundhog did not see his shadow, and so we are going to experience an early Spring.

This Date in Art History: Born 2 February 1895 – Robert Philipp, an American painter.

Below – “Russian Tea Room”; “Artist’s Studio”; “Portrait of Woman in Straw Hat”; “Friends”; “Portrait of Asian Girl”; “Rendezvous.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Death: Died 2 February 1970 – Bertrand Russell, an British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist, and recipient of the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Bertrand Russell:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
“The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other.”
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
“If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. […] The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.”
“God and Satan alike are essentially human figures, the one a projection of ourselves, the other of our enemies.”
“The secret to happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible.”
“The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holders lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.”
“One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.”
“We may define ‘faith’ as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence. The substitution of emotion for evidence is apt to lead to strife, since different groups, substitute different emotions.”
“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth – more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid … Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.”

Contemporary British Art – Ellen Paige Leach

Below – “Northern Wind”; “Church Cove – Port Leven #2”; “Gunwalloe #1”; “Gunwlloe #9”; “Church Cove – Port Leven #6.”

A Poem for Today

by Ed Ochester

Crows, crows, crows, crows
then the slow flapaway over the hill
and the dead oak is naked

Contemporary American Art – Charlotte Evans

Below – “blue mountain”; “across the pond”; “flotilla”; “early birds”; “red sky”; “open arms.”

A Poem for Today

“The Singing”
by Patrick Phillips

I can hear her through
the thin wall, singing,
up before the sun:
two notes, a kind
of hushed half-breathing,
each time the baby
makes that little moan—

can hear her trying
not to sing, then singing
anyway, a thing so old
it might as well
be Hittite or Minoan,

and so soft no one
would ever guess
that I myself once
sang that very song:

back when my son
and then his brother
used to cry all night
or half the morning,
though nothing in all
the world was wrong.

And now how strange:
to be the man from next door,
listening, as the baby cries
then quiets, cries and quiets
each time she sings
their secret song,

that would sound the same ten
thousand years ago,
and has no
meaning but to calm.

Below – Brian Kershisnik: “Singing Madonna and Child”

Contemporary French Art – John O’Grady

Below – “Clearing the Wood V”; “Evening Glow Across the Bog”; “You Are Everything V”; “The Fairy Rath”; “Moonlight over the sugar loaf”; “The Glow of the Night”; “Looking Up.”

A Poem for Today

“Comings and Goings”
by Glenna Lyuschei

In Tucson
when a university student
goes home
she might leave her desk
and a chair, a bookcase outside her cave
with a sign, “Take me.”

And who could resist
heat radiating over furniture
like a mirage? You hoist
an old Victrola into your pickup
and ratchet up a new song.

You start that life in the West,
invent a past, and when that tune
winds down, it’s okay to put out,
“Take me.”

What do we have in life
but comings and goings?

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Sentient in San Francisco – 1 February 2019

Greeting February 2019

Below – A. Y. Jackson: “Winter, Charlevoix County”

Art for February – Olga Voroblova: “February”

Musings in February: Roman Payne

“It is growing cold. Winter is putting footsteps in the meadow. What whiteness boasts that sun that comes into this wood! One would say milk-colored maidens are dancing on the petals of orchids. How coldly burns our sun! One would say its rays of light are shards of snow, one imagines the sun lives upon a snow crested peak on this day. One would say she is a woman who wears a gown of winter frost that blinds the eyes.”

A Poem for February

by Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, ‘He shoots, he scores!’ and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

Below – Endre Penovac: “Black Cat”

Art for February – Nikolai Anokhin: “February Stillness”

This Date in Art History: Born 1 February 1868 – Stefan Luchian, a Romanian painter.

Below – “Portrait of a Woman”; “Safta the Flower Girl”; “The River Meadow at Poduri”; “The Laundress”; “The Millet Beer Seller”;“Interior, Lorica” (Luchian’s last painting).

Musings in February: Alice McDermott

“The day and time itself: late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?”

Below – Edward Hopper: “Day After Funeral”

A Poem for February

“There’s a certain slant of light”
by Emily Dickinson

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

Art for February – Childe Hassam: “Winter, Midnight”

This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1924 – Maurice Prendergast, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Blue Mountains”; “Crescent Beach”; “New England Harbor”; “The Grove”; “Salem Willows”; “Madison Square.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 1 February 1927 – Galway Kinnell, an American poet.

by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1924 – Maurice Prendergast, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “After the Storm”; “Opal Sea”; “Autumn in New England”; “The Bathers”; “May Day Central Park”; “Spring Flowers.”

Art for February – Claude Monet: “View of Argenteuil Snow”

Musings in February: Shirley Jackson

“February, when the days of winter seem endless and no amount of wistful recollecting can bring back any air of summer.”

Below – Carol Crisafi: “A Cold Winter Day”

This Date in Art History: Died 1 February 1944 – Piet Mondrian, a Dutch-American painter.

Below – “Willow Grove, Impression of Light”; “Evening, Red Tree”; “Spring Sun, Castle Ruin, Brederode”; “View from the Dunes with Beach and Piers”; “Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow”; “Victory Boogie Woogie.”

Art for February – Gustave Courbet: “Deer in a Snowy Landscape”

This Date in Art History: Born 1 February 1920 – Zao Wou-Ki, a Chinese-French painter.

Below – “Swirling Snow”; “14.12.59”; “5.10.91”; Untitled; “19.06.85”; Untitled.”

Art for February – Pierre-Auguste Renoir: “Snow-covered Landscape”

A Poem for February

by Madoka Mayuzumi

Wishing and wanting
to see you,
I step on thin ice.

Art for February – Winslow Homer: “Sleigh Ride”

A Poem for February

“February Twilight”
by Sara Teasdale

I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see–
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

Musings in February: Fiona Macleod

“Go to the winter woods: listen there, look, watch, and “the dead months” will give you a subtler secret than any you have yet found in the forest.”

Below – Edmund Wilson Graecen: “Winter Woods”

Art for February – John Singer Sargent: “Country Road in Winter”

Welcome, Wonderful February

Below – Kim Hunter: “Aurora Borealis, Yukon Landscape”

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