American Art – Part I of IV: Lee Krasner
Born 27 October 1908 – Lee Krasner, an influential American abstract expressionist painter and the wife of artist Jackson Pollock.
“I think, that if I touched the earth,
It would crumble;
It is so sad and beautiful,
So tremulously like a dream.” – Dylan Thomas, Welsh writer and poet, who was born 27 October 1914.
“And Death Shall Have No Dominion”
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
In the words of one writer, Iranian painter Morteza Katouzian (born 1943) “loved painting since childhood and he spent all his time on learning this art without any teacher. In 1960 he started graphics and painting work professionally. In graphics, he had created several posters, logos, book covers and brochures.”
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am.” -Sylvia Plath, an American poet, novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Bell Jar,” who was born 27 October 1932.
Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milk bottle, flattening their sides.
Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.
The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me
To the hills’ northern face, and the face is orange rock
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.
From the Music Archives: Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
27 October 1886 – The musical fantasy “Night on Bald Mountain,” composed by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky in 1867 and revised by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1881, is performed in Russia for the first time.
American Art – Part II of IV: George Tooker
In the words of one writer, “George Clair Tooker, Jr. (born August 5, 1920) is one of Magic Realism’s most prominent visual artists. He was raised by his Anglo/French-American father George Clair Tooker and English/Spanish-Cuban mother Angela Montejo Roura in Brooklyn Heights and Bellport, New York along with his sister Mary Fancher Tooker. Tooker longed to go to art school rather than college, but ultimately abided by his parents’ wishes and majored in English Literature at Harvard University, while still devoting much of his time to painting. In 1942, he graduated from college and then entered the Marine Corps but was discharged due to ill-health.
In 1943 he began studying at the Art Students League of New York. Reginald Marsh and Kenneth Hayes Miller were two of his teachers at the ASL. Early in his career Tooker was often compared with other painters such as Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and his friends Jared French and Paul Cadmus.
Working within the then-revitalized tradition of egg tempera, Tooker addressed affecting issues of modern-day alienation with subtly eerie and often visually literal depictions of social withdrawal and isolation.”
“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, soldier, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, who was born 27 October 1858.
Some quotes from the work of Theodore Roosevelt:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
“When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on”
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
“To educate a person in the mind but not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
“Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.”
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
“I am a part of everything that I have read.”
“The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first and love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.”
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
“Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.”
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”
“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”
“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
“When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.”
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.”
“A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.”
“Don’t hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!”
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
In the words of one critic, Tomas Watson (born 1971) “studied at Huddersfield College and Slade School of Art graduating in 1994, having also completed a year’s course in Anatomy for Artists. He received two awards in 1994 and 1996 from the Greek Government and has since lived and worked in Greece.”
“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play.” – John Cleese, English comedian, actor, and member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, who was born 27 October 1939.
British Art – Part II of II: Rico Blanco
In the words of one writer, “Rico’s early (and some say best) work were the crayon and biro drawings of pirate ships that he scribbled on the walls of his family home. There were two clear loves in his life; making pictures, and being a practicing pirate. He struggled with competing ambitions for many years before committing himself to the latter.
After studying Illustration at Brighton, Rico moved on to more ambitious painting projects, using brushes and paints, together!
His work is built up using seemingly random mark-making and by limiting the focus to 2 or 3 major elements he creates scenes that appear as fragments of a narrative.
He mixes highly detailed imagery with stark negative space to effect, treading close to the fine line of complete and incomplete.
Rico finds inspiration in found imagery, using his extensive archive of old books and magazines. He also has a healthy interest in the natural world and the human form.”
27 October 1972 – The U.S. Congress creates the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Here is how one writer describes the Recreation Area, which has more than thirteen million visitors a year: “The park is not one continuous locale, but rather a collection of areas that stretch from northern San Mateo County to southern Marin County, and includes several areas of San Francisco. The park is as diverse as it is expansive; it contains famous tourist attractions such as Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz, and the Presidio of San Francisco. The GGNRA is also home to 1,273 plant and animal species, encompasses 59 miles (95 km) of bay and ocean shoreline and has military fortifications that span centuries of California history, from the Spanish conquistadors to Cold War-era Nike missile sites.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Mexican painter Fidel Garcia: “The art of Fidel Garcia blends figurative realism and abstract expressionism. His paintings call upon the viewer to experience the concurrency of our corporeal and spiritual selves, the coincidence of reality and fantasy, and the simultaneous existence of the physical and the metaphysical. Rather than simply asking for acknowledgement of these diametric forces, Garcia’s paintings assist us in finding the harmony and balance between them. Each image that emerges from his evolving series of canvases explores an unexpected and uncharted inner and outer world of human imagination.”
“Of course, a culture as manically and massively materialistic as ours creates materialistic behavior in its people, especially in those people who’ve been subjected to nothing but the destruction of imagination that this culture calls education, the destruction of autonomy it calls work, and the destruction of activity it calls entertainment.” – James Hillman, American psychologist, writer, advocate of archetypal psychology, and author of many edifying books, including “The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling,” “We’ve Had A Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World’s Getting Worse” (with Michael Ventura), “A Terrible Love of War,” “The Force of Character and the Lasting Life,” and “Dream Animals” (with Margot McLean), who died 27 October 2011.
Here is how one critic describes the work of James Hillman: “Because archetypal psychology is concerned with fantasy, myth, and image, it is not surprising that dreams are considered to be significant in relation to soul and soul-making. Hillman does not believe that dreams are simply random residue or flotsam from waking life (as advanced by physiologists), but neither does he believe that dreams are compensatory for the struggles of waking life, or are invested with ‘secret’ meanings of how one should live, as did Jung. Rather, ‘dreams tell us where we are, not what to do.’ Therefore, Hillman is against the traditional interpretive methods of dream analysis. Hillman’s approach is phenomenological rather than analytic (which breaks the dream down into its constituent parts) and interpretive/hermeneutic (which may make a dream image ‘something other’ than what it appears to be in the dream). His famous dictum with regard to dream content and process is ‘Stick with the image.’”
Some quotes from the work of James Hillman:
“Each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny. As the force of fate, this image acts as a personal daimon, an accompanying guide who remembers your calling.
The daimon motivates. It protects. It invents and persists with stubborn fidelity. It resists compromising reasonableness and often forces deviance and oddity upon its keeper, especially when neglected or opposed. It offers comfort and can pull you into its shell, but it cannot abide innocence. It can make the body ill. It is out of step with time, finding all sorts of faults, gaps, and knots in the flow of life – and it prefers them. It has affinities with myth, since it is itself a mythical being and thinks in mythical patterns.
It has much to do with feelings of uniqueness, of grandeur and with the restlessness of the heart, its impatience, its dissatisfaction, its yearning. It needs its share of beauty. It wants to be seen, witnessed, accorded recognition, particularly by the person who is its caretaker. Metaphoric images are its first unlearned language, which provides the poetic basis of mind, making possible communication between all people and all things by means of metaphors.”
“Character forms a life regardless of how obscurely that life is lived and how little light falls on it from the stars.”
“My war – and I have yet to win a decisive battle – is with the modes of thought that and conditioned feelings that prevail in psychology and therefore also in the way we think and feel about our being. Of these conditions none are more tyrannical than the convictions that clamp the mind and heart into positivistic science (geneticism and computerism), economics (bottom-line capitalism), and single-minded faith (fundamentalism).”
“Because every exchange is always a relationship, to get the most while giving the least is unjust, unethical, antisocial, abusive, perhaps ‘evil.’ Yet predatory commerce (‘the free market’ as it is euphemistically called) operates regularly on the principle of ‘get the most and pay the least.’”
“Love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining.”
“My practice tells me I can no longer distinguish clearly between neurosis of self and neurosis of world, psychopathology of self and psychopathology of world. Moreover, it tells me that to place neurosis and psychopathology solely in personal reality is a delusional repression of what is actually, realistically, being experienced.”
“Psychoanalysis has to get out of the consulting room and analyze all kinds of things. You have to see that the buildings are anorexic, you have to see that the language is schizogenic, that ‘normalcy’ is manic, and medicine and business are paranoid.”
“To mythic consciousness, the persons of the imagination are real.”
“Soul enters only via symptoms, via outcast phenomena like the imagination of artists or alchemy or ‘primitives,’ or of course, disguised as psychopathology. That’s what Jung meant when he said the Gods have become diseases: the only way back for them in a Christian world is via the outcast.”
“Two insanely dangerous consequences result from raising efficiency to the level of an independent principle. First, it favors short-term thinking–no looking ahead, down the line; and it produces insensitive feeling–no looking around at the life values being lived so efficiently. Second, means become ends; that is, doing something becomes the full justification of doing regardless of what you do.”
“I won’t accept these simple opposites–either individual self in control or a totalitarian, mindless mob. This kind of fantasy keeps us afraid of community. It locks us up inside our separate selves all alone and longing for connection. In fact, the idea of surrendering to the fascist mob is the result of the separated self. It’s the old Apollonian ego, aloof and clear, panicked by the Dionysian flow.”
“Let’s call them ‘troubles.’ Can you imagine a blues singer going on about problems?”
“The desert is not in Egypt; it is anywhere once we desert the heart.”
“Let us imagine the anima mundi [world soul] neither above the world encircling it as a divine and remote emanation of spirit, a world of powers, archetypes, and principles transcendent to things, nor within the material world as its unifying panpsychic life-principle. Rather let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, that seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form.”
“There is, after all, something quite beautiful about a life. But you would not think so from reading psychology books.”
“To what does the soul turn that has no therapists to visit? It takes its trouble to the trees, to the riverbank, to an animal companion, on an aimless walk through the city streets, a long watch of the night sky. Just stare out the window or boil water for a cup of tea. We breathe, expand, and let go, and something comes in from elsewhere. The daimon in the heart seems quietly pleased, preferring melancholy to desperation. It’s in touch.”
“The soul can become a reality again only when each of us has the courage to take it as the first reality in our own lives, to stand for it and not just ‘believe’ in it.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Janet Fish
In the words of one writer, “Janet Fish was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1938 and raised in Bermuda. Fish received a Bachelor of Arts degree at Smith College, Northampton MA and a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. She also studied at the Skowhegan Summer School, Maine and the Art Students League NYC.”
A Poem for Today
“The Peace of Wild Things,”
By Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
American Art – Part IV of IV: David Kroll
Artist Statement: “I paint personal refuges and interior landscapes – places to visit for solace and sanctuary. Much of my work is intuitive. My paintings are imagined, invented moments that touch upon human’s complicated, perplexing relationship with nature. I try to create an emotional and intellectual connection – however fleeting – between the viewer and the power of landscape, the web of life, the idea of nature itself.
I think about the natural world not as an expendable resource but as a past home, once abandoned and forgotten, now the subject of our longing and our dreams. Increasingly what remains is an idea or memory of nature, rather than nature itself. This has been a central theme of my work for many years
My blank canvases are approached without a predefined image and the painting is developed in a slow, organic way. Painting in refined layers allows me to discover the narrative and emotional content of each composition over time. Using this method, I try to express why a sunset fills us with wonder, why a certain quality of light can make a busy day suddenly still, and why the momentary sound of a bird call can seem – for that instant – like the most important thing in the world.”
Second Artist Statement: “Our lives have become increasingly removed from nature. Wilderness has been reduced to isolated refuges. As new development and building spread, there are fewer wild areas. Yet, each year people flock to these refuges, these parks, to admire and connect with nature. As we speed onward with progress, there is an intellectual and emotional longing for the natural world. Today is different from America in the 19th century. Civilization was moving west and progress represented promise. At that time there began a style of landscape painting sometimes referred to as “The Hudson River School”. This was a peculiarly American style of landscape painting influenced by this country’s large tracts of wilderness. Progress is documented in these paintings. Wilderness is depicted in the foreground of some of these works. As one’s eye moves to the background, one witnesses stages of man’s progress that culminates with a town or city. The artists expressed reverence for the landscape and sorrow about the vanishing wilderness. They lamented the loss of the native peoples and their lands. The devotional quality to many of these paintings suggests that nature and God were one.
I feel a link to America’s early landscape painters. Whereas they document the progress of civilization with its attendant loss of the wild and unknown, I want to reclaim the wilderness. We can no longer experience unknown wild areas. We can visit designated wild areas, parks. We have become removed from nature, both physically and intellectually. Yet I believe a connection to nature is needed. It seems ingrained in our psyche.
I paint refuges, places to go to for solace. I want my paintings to be destinations of quiet and calm. However, this world is fragile. The elements in the foregrounds of my paintings are items carefully constructed, either by humans or animals. Yet, they are objects easily broken or destroyed. Birds represent messengers from the wild. They embody beauty and fragility. They are visitors that remind us of lands beyond, wilderness. The distant landscapes in my paintings are remembrances of the natural past, vaguely familiar and pleasing.
The natural world seems essential to me but I am puzzled by how one can integrate it into our urban lives. Although, we are neither able nor willing to return to an Arcadian state, we still need to have a relationship with nature. I want to add a sense of balance, order and beauty to a world that is weighted in the opposite.”