Sentient in San Francisco – 11 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 11 November 1863 – Paul Signac, a French painter.

Below – “Capo di Noli”; “Woman with Umbrella”; “The Pine Tree at Saint Tropez”; “Women by the Well”; “Marseille”; “In the Time of Harmony. The Golden Age is not in the Past, it is in the Future.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November 1821 – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist, philosopher, and author of “Notes From Underground,” “Crime and Punishment,” and “The Brothers Karamazov.”

Some quotes from the work of Fyodor Dostoyevski:

“The best way to keep a prisoner from escaping is to make sure he never knows he’s in prison.”
“When I look back on my past and think how much time I wasted on nothing, how much time has been lost in futilities, errors, laziness, incapacity to live; how little I appreciated it, how many times I sinned against my heart and soul-then my heart bleeds. Life is a gift, life is happiness, every minute can be an eternity of happiness.”
“It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise.”
“The soul is healed by being with children.”
“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.”
“Humanity can live without science, it can live without bread, but it cannot live without beauty. Without beauty, there would be nothing left to do in this life. Here the secret lies. Here lies the entire story.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
“Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

Below – Portrait of Dostoyevsky by Vasil Perov .

This Date in Art History: Born 11 November 1868 – Edouard Vuillard, a French painter: Part I of II.

Below – “The Flowered Dress”; “Three Women in Conversation”; “Interior”; “The Garden of Vaucresson”; “Portrait of Princess Bibesco”; “Le Grand Teddy.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November1928 – Carlos Fuentes, a Mexican novelist, essayist, and author of “The Death of Antonio Cruz.”

Some quotes from the work of Carlos Fuentes:

“Art gives life to what history killed. Art gives voice to what history denied, silenced, or persecuted. Art brings truth to the lies of history.”
“Writing is a struggle against silence.”
“One wants to tell a story, like Scheherezade, in order not to die. It’s one of the oldest urges in mankind. It’s a way of stalling death.”
“I am not interested in slice of life, what I want is a slice of the imagination.”
“I discovered very quickly that criticism is a form of optimism, and that when you are silent about the shortcomings of your society, you’re very pessimistic about that society. And it’s only when you speak truthfully about it that you show your faith in that society.”
“In a world torn by every kind of fundamentalism – religious, ethnic, nationalist and tribal – we must grant first place to economic fundamentalism, with its religious conviction that the market, left to its own devices, is capable of resolving all our problems. This faith has its own ayatollahs. Its church is neo-liberalism; its creed is profit; its prayers are for monopolies.”
“Religion is dogmatic. Politic is ideological. Reason must be logical, but literature has a privilege of being equivocal.”
“Reading, writing, teaching, learning, are all activities aimed at introducing civilizations to each other.”


This Date in Art History: Born 11 November 1868 – Edouard Vuillard, a French painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Le corsage raye”; “Venus de Milo”; “Morning in the garden, Clos Cezanne”; “Aux Clayes, Geranium on a blue table”; “The seamstresses”; “Large Interior with Six Persons.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November 1937 – Alicia Ostriker, an award-winning American poet.

“In Every Life”
by Alicia Striker

In every life there’s a moment or two
when the self disappears, the cruel wound
takes over, and then again
at times we are filled with sky
or with birds or
simply with the sugary tea on the table
said the old woman

I know what you mean said the tulip
about epiphanies
for instance a cloudless April sky
the approach of a butterfly
but as to the disappearing self
no
I have not yet experienced that

You are creating distinctions
that do not exist in reality
where “self” and “not-self” are like salt
in ocean, cloud in sky
oxygen in fire
said the philosophical dog
under the table scratching his balls

Below – Sarah Holden: “Dog under the Table”

Contemporary French Art – Stephanie de Malherbe: Part I of II.

Below – “Je voudrais du soleil rouge II”; “Hope”; La vie qui passe II”; “Light III”; “Le reflet des étoiles II”; “The heart is made for peace.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 11 November 1922 – Kurt Vonnegut Jr., an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, essayist, and author of “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “A Man Without a Country.”
Note: In these dark political and cultural times in America, I think about “A Man Without a Country” frequently.

Some quotes from the work of Kurt Vonnegut Jr.:

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”
“For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes (Matthew 5). But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course, that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. ‘Blessed are the merciful’ in a courtroom? ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ in the Pentagon? Give me a break!”
“You meet saints everywhere. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.”
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves… It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters.”
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.”

Contemporary French Art – Stephanie de Malherbe: Part II of II.

Below – “Je voudrais du soleil bleu”; “Reflets XXI”; “Instagram”; “River Light”; “Vivement le printemps”; “Reflets VII.”

A Poem for Today

“New Water”
by Sharon Chmielarz

All those years—almost a hundred—
the farm had hard water.
Hard orange. Buckets lined in orange.
Sink and tub and toilet, too,
once they got running water.
And now, in less than a lifetime,
just by changing the well’s location,
in the same yard, mind you,
the water’s soft, clear, delicious to drink.
All those years to shake your head over.
Look how sweet life has become;
you can see it in the couple who live here,
their calmness as they sit at their table,
the beauty as they offer you new water to drink.

Below – Jason Patrick Jenkins: “Rock Glass and Pitcher”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 10 November 2019

Contemporary French Art – Julien Primary

Below – “Sky Fragments #2”; “Montagne de gravats”; “La tour du télégraphe”; “Exploration lumineuse #2”; “Sky Fragments #3.”

A Poem for Today

“How Are You Doing?”
by Rick Snyder

As much as you deserve it,
I wouldn’t wish this
Sunday night on you—
not the Osco at closing,
not its two tired women
and shaky security guard,
not its bin of flip-flops
and Tasmanian Devil
baseball caps,
not its freshly mopped floors
and fluorescent lights,
not its endless James Taylor
song on the intercom,
and not its last pint of
chocolate mint ice cream,
which I carried
down Milwaukee Ave.
past a man in an unbuttoned
baseball shirt, who stepped
out of a shadow to whisper,
How are you doing?

 

Contemporary British Art – Alan Fears: Part I of II.

Below – “Red Carpet Party”; “Ray of Sunshine”; “A Day at the Lake”; “The Lowdown”; “Hot Dog and a Coke”; “Complimentary Slippers.”


This Date in Literary History: Did 10 November 2007 – Norman Mailer, an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, author of “The Armies of the Night” and “The Executioner’s Song,” recipient of the NationalBook Award, and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Norman Mailer:

“I really am a pessimist. I’ve always felt that fascism is a more natural governmental condition than democracy. Democracy is a grace. It’s something essentially splendid because it’s not at all routine or automatic. Fascism goes back to our infancy and childhood, where we were always told how to live. We were told, Yes, you may do this; no, you may not do that. So the secret of fascism is that it has this appeal to people whose later lives are not satisfactory.”
“Any war that requires the suspension of reason as a necessity for support is a bad war.”
“Love asks us that we be a little braver than is comfortable, a little more generous, a little more flexible. It means living on the edge more than we care to.”
“Reaching consensus in a group is often confused with finding the right answer.”
“To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged.”
“America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug White Protestants who live in the center, in the serene eye of the big wind.”
“Conservatives are people who look at a tree and feel instinctively that it is more beautiful than anything they can name. But when it comes to defending that tree against a highway, they will go for the highway.”
“The desire for success lubricates secret prostitution in the soul.”
“Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.”

Contemporary British Art – Alan Fears: Part II of II.

Below – “Renaissance Man”; “Making a Call”; “The Ace”; “The Beginners”; “The Ballad of George Benson”; “When Misery Gets the Better of You.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 10 November 1913 – Karl Shapiro, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“California Winter”
by Karl Shapiro

It is winter in California, and outside
Is like the interior of a florist shop:
A chilled and moisture-laden crop
Of pink camellias lines the path; and what
Rare roses for a banquet or a bride,
So multitudinous that they seem a glut!

A line of snails crosses the golf-green lawn
From the rosebushes to the ivy bed;
An arsenic compound is distributed
For them. The gardener will rake up the shells
And leave in a corner of the patio
The little mound of empty shells, like skulls.

By noon the fog is burnt off by the sun
And the world’s immensest sky opens a page
For the exercise of a future age;
Now jet planes draw straight lines, parabolas,
And x’s, which the wind, before they’re done,
Erases leisurely or pulls to fuzz.

It is winter in the valley of the vine.
The vineyards crucified on stakes suggest
War cemeteries, but the fruit is pressed,
The redwood vats are brimming in the shed,
And on the sidings stand tank cars of wine,
For which bright juice a billion grapes have bled.

And skiers from the snow line driving home
Descend through almond orchards, olive farms.
Fig tree and palm tree – everything that warms
The imagination of the wintertime.
If the walls were older one would think of Rome:
If the land were stonier one would think of Spain.

But this land grows the oldest living things,
Trees that were young when Pharoahs ruled the world,
Trees whose new leaves are only just unfurled.
Beautiful they are not; they oppress the heart
With gigantism and with immortal wings;
And yet one feels the sumptuousness of this dirt.

It is raining in California, a straight rain
Cleaning the heavy oranges on the bough,
Filling the gardens till the gardens flow,
Shining the olives, tiling the gleaming tile,
Waxing the dark camellia leaves more green,
Flooding the daylong valleys like the Nile.


Contemporary American Art – William Buffett

Below – Cardiff By The Sea”; “The Renegade”; “On Stage At The Arias”; “Poolside”; “The Road To Mackenzie”; “The Red Carnation.”

A Poem for Today

“Morel Mushrooms”
by Jane Whitledge

Softly they come
thumbing up from
firm ground

protruding unharmed.
Easily crumbled
and yet

how they shouldered
the leaf and mold
aside, rising

unperturbed,
breathing obscurely,
still as stone.

By the slumping log,
by the dappled aspen,
they grow alone.

A dumb eloquence
seems their trade.
Like hooded monks

in a sacred wood
they say:
Tomorrow we are gone.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 9 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 9 November 1942 – Charles Courtney Curran, an American painter: Part I of III.

Below – “Lotus Lilies”; “Lady with a Bouquet”; “Sunshine and Haze”; “Shadows”; “A Breezy Day”; “Fair Critics.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 9 November 1937 – Roger McGough, an English poet, author, and playwright.

“The Sound Collector”
by Roger McGough

A stranger called this morning
Dressed all in black and grey
Put every sound into a bag
And carried them away

The whistling of the kettle
The turning of the lock
The purring of the kitten
The ticking of the clock

The popping of the toaster
The crunching of the flakes
When you spread the marmalade
The scraping noise it makes

The hissing of the frying pan
The ticking of the grill
The bubbling of the bathtub
As it starts to fill

The drumming of the raindrops
On the windowpane
When you do the washing-up
The gurgle of the drain

The crying of the baby
The squeaking of the chair
The swishing of the curtain
The creaking of the stair

A stranger called this morning
He didn’t leave his name
Left us only silence
Life will never be the same

Below – Tomasa Martin: “Silence”

This Date in Art History: Died 9 November 1942 – Charles Courtney Curran, an American painter: Part II of III.

Below – “Hollyhocks and Sunlight”; “On the Heights”;“Paris at night”; “In Luxembourg’s gardens”; “Breakfast for Three”; “Peonies.”

This Date in Intellectual History: Born 9 November 1934 – Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist.

Some quotes from the work of Carl Sagan:

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
“Nothing disturbs me more than the glorification of stupidity.”
“If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves.”
“I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”
“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”
“Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved?”
“I promise to question everything my leaders tell me. I promise to use my critical faculties. I promise to develop my independence of thought. I promise to educate myself so I can make my own judgments.”
“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”
“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
“We are, each of us, a multitude. Within us is a little universe.”
“National boundaries are not evident when we view the Earth from space. Fanatical ethnic or religious or national chauvinisms are a little difficult to maintain when we see our planet as a fragile blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.”
“If you look at Earth from space you see a dot, that’s here. That’s home. That’s us. It underscores the responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

This Date in Art History: Died 9 November 1942 – Charles Courtney Curran, an American painter: Part III of III.

Below – “The Lanterns”; “Goldenrod Curran”; “The Cabbage Field”; “Lady in Yellow”; “Sunshine and Rain”; “April Sunshine.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 9 November 1923 – James Schuyler, an American poet, author, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“February”
by James Schuyler

A chimney, breathing a little smoke.
The sun, I can’t see
making a bit of pink
I can’t quite see in the blue.
The pink of five tulips
at five p.m. on the day before March first.
The green of the tulip stems and leaves
like something I can’t remember,
finding a jack-in-the-pulpit
a long time ago and far away.
Why it was December then
and the sun was on the sea
by the temples we’d gone to see.
One green wave moved in the violet sea
like the UN Building on big evenings,
green and wet
while the sky turns violet.
A few almond trees
had a few flowers, like a few snowflakes
out of the blue looking pink in the light.
A gray hush
in which the boxy trucks roll up Second Avenue
into the sky. They’re just
going over the hill.
The green leaves of the tulips on my desk
like grass light on flesh,
and a green-copper steeple
and streaks of cloud beginning to glow.
I can’t get over
how it all works in together
like a woman who just came to her window
and stands there filling it
jogging her baby in her arms.
She’s so far off. Is it the light
that makes the baby pink?
I can see the little fists
and the rocking-horse motion of her breasts.
It’s getting grayer and gold and chilly.
Two dog-size lions face each other
at the corners of a roof.
It’s the yellow dust inside the tulips.
It’s the shape of a tulip.
It’s the water in the drinking glass the tulips are in.
It’s a day like any other.

Below – David Lloyd Glover: “Tulips In Glass”

Contemporary Italian Art – Paolo Terdich

Below – “Acqua 20”; “Poltroma rossa”; “Acqua 33”; “Riflessi 2”; “Acqua 43”; “Riflessi 3”; “Acqua 18.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 9 November 1928 – Anne Sexton, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Courage”
by Anne Sexton

It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Later,
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 8 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 8 November 1905 – Victor Borisov-Musatov, a Russian painter.

Below – “The Pool”; “Self-Portrait with Sister”; “The Emerald Necklace”; “Spring”; “Autumn Song”; “May Flowers.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 8 November 1953 – Ivan Bunin, a Russian novelist, short story writer, poet, and recipient of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Literature.

“Loneliness”
by Ivan Bunin

The rain and the wind and the murk
Reign over cold desert of fall,
Here, life’s interrupted till spring;
Till the spring, gardens barren and tall.
I’m alone in my house, it’s dim
At the easel, and drafts through the rims.

The other day, you came to me,
But I feel you are bored with me now.
The somber day’s over, it seemed
You were there for me as my spouse.
Well, so long, I will somehow strive
To survive till the spring with no wife.

The clouds, again, have today
Returned, passing, patch after patch.
Your footprints got smudged by the rain,
And are filling with water by the porch.
As I sink into lonesome despair
From the vanishing late autumn’s glare.

I gasped to call after you fast:
Please come back, you’re a part of me, dear;
To a woman, there is no past
Once love ends, you’re a stranger to her;
I’ll get drunk, I will watch burning logs,
Would be splendid to get me a dog.


This Date in Art History: Born 8 November 1881 – Clarence Gagnon, a Canadian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Girl with Goat”; “Twilight, Baie-Saint-Paul”; “Totems (study for ‘le grand silence blanc’)”; “The Ice Harvest”; “Armenian Woman”; “Katherine.”


Musings in Autumn: e.e. Cummings

“peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day

has to become night

this is a beautiful way)”


This Date in Art History: Born 8 November 1885 – George Bouzianis, a Greek painter.

Below – “Woman with Flowers”; “Lady with Umbrella”; “Liza Kottou”; “Still Life with Watermelon”; “Female Dancers”; “Self Portrait.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 8 November 1954 – Kazuo Ishiguro, a British novelist, screenwriter, short story writer, author of “The Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go,” and recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Kazuo Ishiguro:

“Many of our deepest motives come, not from an adult logic of how things work in the world, but out of something that is frozen from childhood.”
“I’m interested in memory because it’s a filter through which we see our lives, and because it’s foggy and obscure, the opportunities for self-deception are there. In the end, as a writer, I’m more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened.”
“What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”
“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
“Memory, I realize, can be an unreliable thing; often it is heavily coloured by the circumstances in which one remembers.”
“What is pertinent is the calmness of beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its own beauty, its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.”
“Don’t you wonder sometimes, what might have happened if you tried?After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?”
“I have the feeling of this completely alternative person I should have become. There was another life that I might have had, but I’m having this one.”
“The evening’s the best part of the day. You’ve done your day’s work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it.”


Contemporary German Art – Tobias Pinto

Below – “First Light”; ““Lost in Thought”; “Deep”; “Sweet Blindness”; “Good Intentions.”


A Poem for Today

“Where They Lived”
By Marge Saiser

One last time I unlock
the house where they lived

and fought and tried again:
the air of the place,

carpet with its unchanging green,
chair with its back to me.

On the TV set, the Christmas cactus
has bloomed, has spilled its pink flowers

down its scraggly arms
and died, drying into paper.

At the round oak table,
ghosts lean toward one another,

almost a bow, before rising,
before ambling away.

Below – Richard Hanssens: “Old House”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 7 October 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 7 November 1890 – Jan Matulka, a Czech-American painter and illustrator.

Below – “New York in Winter”; “Still Life with Shells and Classical Head”; “Turi Pole Landscape”; “Still Life”; “Rodeo Rider”; “Skupina Zen.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 7 November 1913 – Albert Camus, a French author, philosopher, journalist, and recipient the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Some quotes from the work of Albert Camus:

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
“Life is a sum of all your choices. So, what are you doing today?”
“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
“Every time I hear a political speech or I read those of our leaders, I am horrified at having, for years, heard nothing which sounded human. It is always the same words telling the same lies. And the fact that men accept this, that the people’s anger has not destroyed these hollow clowns, strikes me as proof that men attribute no importance to the way they are governed; that they gamble – yes, gamble – with a whole part of their life and their so called ‘vital interests.’”
“Whoever gives nothing, has nothing. The greatest misfortune is not to be unloved, but not to love.”
“There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.”
“Basically, at the very bottom of life, which seduces us all, there is only absurdity, and more absurdity. And maybe that’s what gives us our joy for living, because the only thing that can defeat absurdity is lucidity.”
“To grow old is to pass from passion to compassion.”


This Date in Art History: Born 7 November 1901 – Norah McGuinness, an Irish painter and illustrator.

Below – “Night in Fitzwilliam Square”; “Deidre McClenaghan (The Artist’s Niece)”; “The Black Swan”; “Waiting in the Park”; “Crows”; “Annie.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 7 November1872 – Leonora Speyer, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

“Locust”
by Leonora Speyer

Your hot voice sizzles from some cool tree near-by:
You seem to burn your way through the air
Like a small, pointed flame of sound,
Sharpened on the ecstatic edge of sun-beams!

 

Below – Soso Kumsiashvili: “Locust”


This Date in Art History: Born 7 November 1916 – Henry Ward Ranger, an American painter.

Below – “Spring Woods”; “New England Village”; “Autumn Woodlands”; “Field and Sky”; “Moonlight Rural Landscape”; “Country Road.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 7 November 1990 – Lawrence Durrell, an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, travel writer, and author of “The Alexandria Quartet.”

Some quotes from the work of Lawrence Durrell:

“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.”
“Like all young men I set out to be a genius, but mercifully laughter intervened.”
“The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palm, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers – all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.”
“I don’t believe one reads to escape reality. A person reads to confirm a reality he knows is there, but which he has not experienced.”
“It is the duty of every patriot to hate his country creatively.”
“Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?”
“These are the moments which are not calculable, and cannot be assessed in words; they live on in the solution of memory, like wonderful creatures, unique of their own kind, dredged up from the floors of some unexplored ocean.”
“Try and travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open, and not too much factual information. To tune in, without reverence, idly — but with real inward attention. It is to be had for the feeling, that mysterious sense of rapport, of identity with the ground. You can extract the essence of a place once you know how. If you just get as still as a needle you’ll be there.”
“We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behavior and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it.”
“I am quite alone. I am neither happy nor unhappy; I lie suspended like a hair or a feather in the cloudy mixtures of memory.”
“Who invented the human heart, I wonder? Tell me, and then show me the place where he was hanged.”
“A city becomes a world when one loves one of its inhabitants.”

Contemporary Greek Art – Effrosyni Pitsalidou

Below – “Artemis… through the myth of Rodanthe”; “Sorrow”; “Athena… through the myth of Arachne”; “Offfering…Vision”; “Hera… through the myth of the Galaxy’s Creation”; “Strangely Sacred”; “Balance”; “Game of Life”; “Connected in the Deep.”

A Poem for Today

“Laundry”
by Ruth Moose

All our life
so much laundry;
each day’s doing or not
comes clean,
flows off and away
to blend with other sins
of this world. Each day
begins in new skin,
blessed by the elements
charged to take us
out again to do or undo
what’s been assigned.
From socks to shirts
the selves we shed
lift off the line
as if they own
a life apart
from the one we offer.
There is joy in clean laundry.
All is forgiven in water, sun
and air. We offer our day’s deeds
to the blue-eyed sky, with soap and prayer,
our arms up, then lowered in supplication.

Below – Jeffrey T. Larson: “In the Light of Morning”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 6 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 6 November 1861 – Dennis Miller Bunker, an American painter.

Below – “The Pool, Midfield”; “Jessica”; “Boy with Rowboat”; “Chrysanthemums”; “The Mirror”; “Pines Beyond the Fence.”

Musings inn Autumn: Maya Angelou

“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”


This Date in Art History: Died 6 November 1937 – Colin Campbell Cooper, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Hudson River, Waterfront, N. Y. C.”; “Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco”; “Terrace at Samarkand Hotel”; “Columbus Circle”; “The Lotus Pool, El Encanto, Santa Barbara”; “An Afternoon Stroll.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 6 November 1952 – Michael Cunningham, an American novelist, screenwriter, author of “The Hours,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Michael Cunningham:

“I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then.”
“There is a beauty in the world, though it’s harsher than we expect it to be.”
“What do you do when you’re no longer the hero of your own story?”
“You can’t find peace by avoiding life.”
“Perhaps, in the extravagance of youth, we give away our devotions easily and all but arbitrarily, on the mistaken assumption that we’ll always have more to give.”
“I am beginning to understand the true difference between youth and age. Young people have time to make plans and think of new ideas. Older people need their whole energy to keep up with what’s already been set in motion.”
“We become the stories we tell ourselves.”


This Date in Art History: Died 6 November 1937 – Colin Campbell Cooper, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Summer”; “New York from Brooklyn”; “Taj Mahal, Afternoon”; “Fortune Teller”; “Central Park”; “The Flapper Girl.”

Musings in Autumn: William Hamilton Gibson

“Silently, like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.”


Contemporary British Art – Owen Normand

Below – “Month of Sundays”; “Deeper”; “Still Burns”; “Switch”; “Swipe”; “Vertigo VII.”

A Poem for Today

“Catching the Moles”
by Judith Kitchen

First we tamp down the ridges
that criss-cross the yard

then wait for the ground
to move again.

I hold the shoe box,
you, the trowel.

When I give you the signal
you dig in behind

and flip forward.
Out he pops into daylight,

blind velvet.

We nudge him into the box,
carry him down the hill.

Four times we’ve done it.
The children worry.

“Have we let them all go
at the very same spot?

Will they find each other? “
We can’t be sure ourselves,

only just beginning to learn
the fragile rules of uprooting.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 5 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1938 – Thomas Dewing, an American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Summer”; “The Days”; “The Lute”; “The White Dress”; “Lady in Gold”; “Lyda in Green.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 5 November 1926 – John Berger, an English art critic, novelist, painter, and poet.

Some quotes from the work of John Berger:

“Those who first invented and then named the constellations were storytellers. Tracing an imaginary line between a cluster of stars gave them an image and an identity. The stars threaded on that line were like events threaded on a narrative. Imagining the constellations did not of course change the stars, nor did it change the black emptiness that surrounds them. What it changed was the way people read the night sky.”
“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight.”
“That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe.”
“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.”
“Fanaticism comes from any form of chosen blindness accompanying the pursuit of a single dogma.”
“The past is the one thing we are not prisoners of. We can do with the past exactly what we wish. What we can’t do is to change its consequences.”
“I can’t tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art has judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts, and honor.”
“We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.”
“To be desired is perhaps the closest anybody in this life can reach to feeling immortal.”
“Do you know the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.”

This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1938 – Thomas Dewing, an American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Summer”; “The Song”; “In the Garden”; “Before Sunrise”; “Woman Standing”; “Reclining Nude Figure of a Girl.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 5 November 1884 – James Elroy Flecker, an English novelist, playwright, and poet.

“Destroyer of Ships, Men, Cities”
by James Elroy Flecker

Helen of Troy has sprung from Hell
To claim her ancient throne,
So we have bidden friends farewell
To follow her alone.
The Lady of the laurelled brow,
The Queen of pride and power,
Looks rather like a phantom now,
And rather like a flower.

Deep in her eyes the lamp of night
Burns with a secret flame,
Where shadows pass that have no sight,
And ghosts that have no name.

For mute is battle’s brazen horn
That rang for Priest and King,
And she who drank of that brave morn
Is pale with evening.

An hour there is when bright words flow,
A little hour for sleep,
An hour between, when lights are low,
And then she seems to weep,

But no less lovely than of old
She shines, and almost hears
The horns that blew in days of gold,
The shouting charioteers.

And still she breaks the hearts of men,
Their hearts and all their pride,
Doomed to be cruel once again,
And live dissatisfied.

Below – Evelyn de Morgan: “Helen of Troy”

This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1946 – Joseph Stella, an Italian-American painter: Part I of II.

Below – “Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras”; “Brooklyn Bridge”; “Metropolitan Port”; “The Red Hat”; “”Bridge”; “Flowers, Italy.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 5 November 2005 – John Fowles, an internationally-acclaimed English novelist and author of “The Magus.”

Some quotes from the work of John Fowles:

“The most important questions in life can never be answered by anyone except oneself.”
“The profoundest distances are never geographical.”
“There are only two races on this planet – the intelligent and the stupid.”
“We all want things we can’t have. Being a decent human being is accepting that.”
“Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because it is the one thing that stops women laughing at them.”
“There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be.”
“You come to the United States not knowing what to expect. Then all your worst prejudices are confirmed.”
“That was the tragedy. Not that one man had the courage to be evil. But that millions had not the courage to be good.”
Always we try to put the wild in a cage.”
“I am infinitely strange to myself.”
“In some mysterious way woods have never seemed to me to be static things. In physical terms, I move through them; yet in metaphysical ones, they seem to move through me.”


This Date in Art History: Died 5 November 1946 – Joseph Stella, an Italian-American painter: Part II of II.

Below – “Night View of Brooklyn Bridge”; “Luna Park”; “Apotheosis of the Rose”; “Palm Tree and Bird”; “Factories”; “The Birth of Venus.”


A Poem for Today

“Supple Cord”
By Naomi Shihab Nye

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
We could have spoken,
could have sung
to one another,
we were in the same room
for five years,
but the soft cord
with its little frayed ends
connected us
in the dark,
gave comfort
even if we had been bickering
all day.
When he fell asleep first
and his end of the cord
dropped to the floor,
I missed him terribly,
though I could hear his even breath
and we had such long and separate lives
ahead.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 4 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 4 November 1930 – James E Brewton, an American painter.

Below – “Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe”; “Portrait of Barbara Holland”; “The American Dream-Girl”; “Portrait of Charles Baudelaire”; “Une Saison en Enfer”; “Homage to Modigliani.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 4 November 1968 – MatthewTobin Anderson, an American author, critic, and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Matthew Tobin Anderson:

“There are times when friendship feels like running down a hill together as fast as you can, jumping over things, spinning around, and you don’t care where you’re going, and you don’t care where you’ve come from, because all that matters is speed, and the hands holding your hands.”
“It’s the end. It’s the end of the civilization. We’re going down. No, it’s sure not too attractive. Lenticels. I just hope my kids don’t live to see the last days. The things burning and people living in cellars. Violet. The only thing worse than the thought it may all come tumbling down is the thought that we may go on like this forever.”
“I wanted to say something to cheer her up. I had a feeling that cheering her up might be a lot of work. I was thinking of how sometimes, trying to say the right thing to people, it’s like some kind of brain surgery, and you have to tweak exactly the right part of the lobe. Except with talking, it’s more like brain surgery with old, rusted skewers and things, maybe like those things you use to eat lobster, but brown. And you have to get exactly the right place, and you’re touching around in the brain but the patient, she keeps jumping and saying, ‘Ow.’”
“Why not write a book which is as sophisticated as a book for an adult, but is about the concerns that teenagers actually have?”
“Teens are not like the weird, dumb dwarves you have around your house. They are actually you when you were younger.”
“We Americans are interested only in the consumption of our products. We have no interest in how they are produced, or what happens to them once we discard them, once we throw them away.”
“I can’t tell you how irritating it is to be an atheist in a haunted house.”
“And I realize that the decision to be human is not one single instant, but is a thousand choices made very day. It is choices we make every second and requires constant vigilance. We have to fight to remain human.”

This Date in Art History: Died 4 November 1968 – Michel Kikoine, a Belarusian-French painter.

Below – “Portrait of a Young Girl”; “Rooftops”; “Portrait of aWoman”; “Figures among the trees”; “Standing Figure”; “Bathers.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 4 November 1950 – Charles Frazier, an American novelist, author of “Cold Mountain,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of Charles Frazier:

“We are not strong enough to stand up against endless grief, And yet pain is the constant drone of life. So if we are to have any happiness at all, it is only in the passing instant.”
“She always carried a book, though, in case she needed to read a few pages to avoid unwanted conversation.”
“Ask her what she craved, and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom. Not being bought and sold by some idiot employer, not having the moments of her days valued in fractions of a dollar by somebody other than herself.”
“[No] matter what a waste one has made of one’s life, it is ever possible to find some path to redemption, however partial.”
“No looking back. Life goes one way only, and whatever opinions you hold about the past having nothing to do with anything but your own damn weakness. Nothing changes what already happened. It will always have happened. You either let it break you down or you don’t.”
“I do the same things I did when I was 12 years old: I ride bikes, I read books, I walk in the woods. And I listen to music.”
“What you have lost will not be returned to you; it always be lost.” You’re left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on, or not. But if you go on, it’s knowing you carry your scars with you.”
“Claim your space. Draw a circle of light around it. Push back against the dark. Don’t just survive. Celebrate.”


Contemporary German Art – Domenico C V Talarico: Part I of II.

Below – “When I Look Back (I See Trees)”; “Mezmerize”; “The Boy With Bow”; “Single And Still Not Independent. But That’s OK”; “Powder of Sympathy #05”; “The Ancient Debate About The Difference Between Tourists And Travelers #01.”


This Date in Literary History: Died 4 November 1918 – Wilfred Owen, an English poet and soldier.

“Dulce et Decorum Est”
by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: “Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.”

Below – John Singer Sargent: “Gassed”


Contemporary German Art – Domenico C V Talarico: Part II of II.

Below – “Being Flattered But Trying To Look Unimpressed”; “Would You Please Explain Casual Wear #05”; “Watch The Road”; “The Crystal Empress”; “The Ancient Debate About The Difference Between Tourists And Travelers #02”; “Powder Of Sympathy #02.”


This Date in Cultural History: Born 4 November 1879 – Will Rogers, an American stage and motion picture actor, vaudeville performer, cowboy, humorist, newspaper columnist, and social commentator.

Some quotes from the work of Will Rogers:

“There are men running governments who shouldn’t be allowed to play with matches.”
“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
“After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him… The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”
“If we have Senators and Congressmen there that can’t protect themselves against the evil temptations of lobbyists, we don’t need to change our lobbies, we need to change our representatives.”
“We always want the best man to win an election. Unfortunately, he never runs.”
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
“The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.”
“The taxpayers are sending congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it except they keep coming back.”
“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
“The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”
“If America ever passes out as a great nation, we ought to put on our tombstone: America died from a delusion she had Moral Leadership.”

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 3 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 3 November 1954 – Henri Matisse, a French painter and sculptor: Part I of IV.

Below – “Woman Reading”; “Blue Pot and Lemon”; “Woman with a Hat”; “Luxembourg Gardens”; “Study of a Nude”; “Open Window, Collioure.”

Musings in Autumn: Cynthia Rylant

“In November, the trees are standing all sticks and bones. Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers. They know it is time to be still.”

Below – Valerius de Saedeleer: “Orchard in Winter”


This Date in Art History: Died 3 November 1954 – Henri Matisse, a French painter and sculptor: Part II of IV.

Below – “Le bonheur de vivre”; “The Dance”; “Le Luxe II”; “Music”; “Three Bathers”; “Blue Nude.”


This Date in Literary History: Born 3 November 1950 – Joe Queenan, an American author, satirist, and critic.

Some quotes from the work of Joe Queenan:

“Purists maintain that if you go to a baseball game you will almost always see something you have never seen before. Unfortunately, it usually takes place in the stands.”
“Reading is the way mankind delays the inevitable. Reading is the way we shake our fist at the sky. As long as we have these epic, improbable reading projects arrayed before us, we cannot breathe our last: Tell the Angel of Death to come back later; I haven’t quite finished ‘Villette’.”
“A friend once told me that the real message Bram Stoker sought to convey in ‘Dracula’ is that a human being needs to live hundreds and hundreds of years to get all his reading done; that Count Dracula, basically nothing more than a misunderstood bookworm, was draining blood from the necks of 10,000 hapless virgins not because he was the apotheosis of pure evil but because it was the only way he could live long enough to polish off his extensive reading list. But I have no way of knowing if this is true, as I have not yet found time to read ‘Dracula”.”
“Saddling another person with a book he did not ask for has always seemed to me like a huge psychological imposition, like forcing someone to eat a chicken biryani without so much as inquiring whether they like cilantro.”
“If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it’s probably because at some level you find ‘reality’ a bit of a disappointment.”
“Great writers say things that are so beautiful, the very act of repeating them makes life itself more beautiful.”
“Every life, even the best ones, ends in sadness. Books hold out hope that things may end otherwise.”
“People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, and not merely an electronic version, are in some sense mystics. We believe that the objects themselves are sacred, not just the stories they tell.” We believe that books possess the power to transubstantiate, to turn darkness into light, to make being out of nothingness.”
“My books have been part of my life forever. They have been good soldiers, boon companions. Every book has survived numerous purges over the years; each book has repeatedly been called onto the carpet and asked to explain itself. I own no book that has not fought the good fight, taken on all comers, and earned the right to remain. If a book is there, it is there for a reason.”
“The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no e-reader or Kindle in my future. My philosophy is simple: Certain things are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. Books are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery systemBooks that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after.”

This Date in Art History: Died 3 November 1954 – Henri Matisse, a French painter and sculptor: Part III of IV.

Below – “Interior with a Goldfish Bowl”; “The Conversation”; “Zorah on the Terrace”; “Three Sisters and The Rose Marble Table”; “The Music Lesson”; “Still Life with Geraniums.”


A Poem for Today

“Houdini”
by Kay Ryan

Each escape
involved some art,
some hokum, and
at least a brief
incomprehensible
exchange between
the man and metal
during which the
chains were not
so much broken
as he and they
blended. At the
end of each such
mix he had to
extract himself. It
Was the hardest
part to get right
routinely: breaking
back into the
same Houdini.


This Date in Art History: Died 3 November 1954 – Henri Matisse, a French painter and sculptor: Part IV of IV.

Below – “Reclining Nude”; “Awakening”; “Sleep”; “Figure décorative”; “The Self”; “The Back Series: I, II, III, IV” (bronze).

Musings in Autumn: Anne Shirley

“November is usually such a disagreeable month as if the year had suddenly found out she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it.”

Below – Ken Figurski: “A Dreary Autumn Evening”


This Date in Art History: Died 3 November 1956 – Jean Metzinger, a French painter.

Below – “Paysage colore aux oiseaux aquatiques”; “Landscape”; “Tea Time”; “Two Nudes in an Exotic Landscape”; “La danse (Bacchante)”; “Dancer in a Cafe.”

A Poem for Today

“Wallpapering”
by Sue Ellen Thompson

My parents argued over wallpaper. Would stripes
make the room look larger? He
would measure, cut, and paste; she’d swipe
the flaws out with her brush. Once it was properly

hung, doubt would set in. Would the floral
have been a better choice? Then it would grow
until she was certain: it had to go. Divorce
terrified me as a child. I didn’t know

what led to it, but I had my suspicions.
The stripes came down. Up went
the flowers. Eventually it became my definition
of marriage: bad choices, arguments

whose victors time refused to tell,
but everything done together and done well.

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment

Sentient in San Francisco – 2 November 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 2 November 1990 – Eliot Porter, an American nature photographer.

Below – “Red osier, Near Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 1967”; “Sunset behind Las Tres Virgenes Volcano, Near Mezquital, Baja, California, August 12, 1966”; “Foxtail Grass, Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, 1976”; “Gray’s Arch, Red River Gorge, Kennedy, 1968”; “Bracken and Hawkweed, Michigan, 1973”; “Edge of the Colorado River at Mile 122, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1967.”


A Poem for Today

“Summer Downpour on Campus”
by Juliana Gray

When clouds turn heavy, rich
and mottled as an oyster bed,

when the temperature drops so fast
that fog conjures itself inside the cars,
as if the parking lots were filled
with row upon row of lovers,

when my umbrella veils my face
and threatens to reverse itself
at every gust of wind, and rain
lashes my legs and the hem of my skirt,

but I am walking to meet a man
who’ll buy me coffee and kiss my fingers—

what can be more beautiful, then,
than these boys sprinting through the storm,
laughing, shouldering the rain aside,
running to their dorms, perhaps to class,
carrying, like torches, their useless shoes?

Contemporary Chinese Art – Zitong Zhu

Below – “The Hudson River I”; “The Hudson River II”; “The Hudson River III”; “Moment I”; “Still life with cream”; “Sushi II.”

A Poem for Today

“Drought”
by Felecia Caton Garcia

Try to remember: things go wrong in spite of it all.
I listen to our daughters singing in the crackling rows
of corn and wonder why I don’t love them more.
They move like dark birds, small mouths open

to the sky and hungry. All afternoon I listen
to the highway and watch clouds push down over the hills.
I remember your legs, heavy with sleep, lying across mine.
I remember when the world was transparent, trembling, all

shattering light. I had to grit my teeth against its brilliance.
It was nothing like this stillness that makes it difficult
to lift my eyes. When I finally do, I see you
carrying the girls over the sharp stones of the creek bed.

When they pull at my clothes and lean against my arms,
I don’t know what to do and do nothing.


Contemporary German Art – Kevin Gray

Below – “Dust”; “Poppyflower Field 25”; “TV”; “From Space”; “Fire”; “Sea Study.”


A Poem for Today

“Swimming With A Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle”
by Freya Manfred

I spy his head above the waves,
big as a man’s fist, black eyes peering at me,
until he dives into darker, deeper water.
Yesterday I saw him a foot from my outstretched hand,
already tilting his great domed shell away.
Ribbons of green moss rippled behind him,
growing along the ridge of his back
and down his long reptilian tail.
He swims in everything he knows,
and what he knows is never forgotten.
Wisely, he fears me as if I were the Plague,
which I am, sick unto death, swimming
to heal myself in his primeval sea.

Contemporary American Art – Liz Mares

Below – “Mid-Afternoon on Michigan Avenue”; “Crowne Building”; “CTA Squared”; “Fowler Theater”; “Along the Waterfront”; “Everywhere is a View of the Tracks.”


A Poem for Today

Untitled Poem
by Shami Mansei
(translation by Kenneth Rexroth)

This world of ours,
To what shall I compare it?
To the white wake of a boat
That rows away in the early dawn.

Note: Shami Mansei was a Japanese Buddhist priest and poet who lived in the early part of the 8th century.

Below – Roy Davies: “Ripples”

 

Posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television, Opinion | Leave a comment