December Offerings – Part IX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Tom Fleming

Painter Tom Fleming received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, graduating at the top of this class in 1988.

Died 9 September 1971 – Sergey Konenkov, a Russian sculptor often called “the Russian Rodin.”

Below (left to right) – “Kore”; “Bather”; “The Poor”; “Female Nude”; “Albert Einstein.”

“I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty… but I am too busy thinking about myself.” – Edith Sitwell, English poet and critic, who died on 9 December 1964.

Some quotes from the work of Edith Sitwell:

“The poet speaks to all men of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten.”
“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”
“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”
“The trouble with most Englishwomen is that they will dress as if they had been a mouse in a previous incarnation they do not want to attract attention.”
“A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed keeping rabbits.”
“Good taste is the worst vice ever invented.”
“Hot water is my native element. I was in it as a baby, and I have never seemed to get out of it ever since.”
“I am an unpopular electric eel in a pool of catfish.”
“I am one of those unhappy persons who inspire bores to the greatest flights of art.”
“I wish the government would put a tax on pianos for the incompetent.”
“Poetry is the deification of reality.”
“The aim of flattery is to soothe and encourage us by assuring us of the truth of an opinion we have already formed about ourselves.”
“The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.”

And a poem:


JANE, Jane,
Tall as a crane,
The morning light creaks down again;

Comb your cockscomb-ragged hair,
Jane, Jane, come down the stair.

Each dull blunt wooden stalactite
Of rain creaks, hardened by the light,

Sounding like an overtone
From some lonely world unknown.

But the creaking empty light
Will never harden into sight,

Will never penetrate your brain
With overtones like the blunt rain.

The light would show (if it could harden)
Eternities of kitchen garden,

Cockscomb flowers that none will pluck,
And wooden flowers that ‘gin to cluck.

In the kitchen you must light
Flames as staring, red and white,

As carrots or as turnips shining
Where the cold dawn light lies whining.

Cockscomb hair on the cold wind
Hangs limp, turns the milk’s weak mind . . .

Jane, Jane,
Tall as a crane,
The morning light creaks down again!

Below – “A Portrait of Edith Sitwell,” by Roger Fry

From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka

9 December 1842 – Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka’s opera “Ruslan and Lyudmila,” based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin, premieres in St. Petersburg.

“Ruslan and Lyudmila” is best known for its stirring overture:

American Art – Part II of IV: Mark Horst

Artist Statement: “I paint as a way to see and to know the world. Yet the world is never finished and the joy of seeing it is never complete—and so my painting points to the fleeting, the glimpsed, to the life that is always present and so difficult to touch.
I paint the way I see—which is always incomplete and in process. The more I look, the more there is to observe. The world opens up and flowers; the mud takes form.
I paint the figure as an invitation to explore the world and ourselves—our light, our shadows, our incompleteness. I’m trying to create a space for us to inhabit and give us time with questions that are not meant to be answered.”


From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Joan Armatrading

“In America, you watch TV and think that’s totally unreal, then you step outside and it’s just the same.”- Joan Armatrading, Saint Kitts-born British singer, songwriter, guitarist, and three-time Grammy Award nominee, who was born 9 December 1950.

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Indian painter Vilas Tonape:
“Working in both figurative and non-representational modes, Tonape focuses on nature. His paintings are ‘melodies’ orchestrated by the artist, rooted in the visual rhythms of gesture and color, recorded in the subject matter. ‘Painting to me is music for the eyes, conceived without conscious articulations, sentiments or statement,’ says Tonape. ‘They reflect my response to nature. They are conceived by an abstract, intangible sensing of nature that erupts into spontaneous imagery.’”

“A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit.” – John Milton, English poet, polemicist, scholar, civil servant, and author of “Paradise Lost” and “Aereopagitica,” who was born on 9 December 1608.

Some quotes from the work of John Milton:

“The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
“He that has light within his own clear breast May sit in the centre, and enjoy bright day: But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts Benighted walks under the mid-day sun; Himself his own dungeon.”
“He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.”
“He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.”
“For what can war, but endless war, still breed?”
“The stars, that nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps with everlasting oil, give due light to the misled and lonely traveller.”
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
“No man who knows aught, can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally were born free.”
“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.”
“The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past, in order to strengthen his character thereby.”
“Though we take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet one jewel left; you cannot bereave him of his covetousness.”
“True it is that covetousness is rich, modesty starves.”
“Truth never comes into the world but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her birth.”

Soledad Fernandez is a contemporary Spanish painter who has studied art in Madrid, Paris, Rome, and Venice. Her work has appeared in individual and collective exhibitions around the world.

“You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egoistical selves.” – Natsume Soseki, influential Japanese novelist and author of “Kokoro” and “Botchan,” who died 9 December 1916.

Some quotes from the work of Natsume Soseki:

“You seem to be under the impression that there is a special breed of bad humans. There is no such thing as a stereotype bad man in this world. Under normal conditions, everybody is more or less good, or, at least, ordinary. But tempt them, and they may suddenly change. That is what is so frightening about men.”
“It is painfully easy to define human beings. They are beings who, for no good reason at all, create their own unnecessary suffering.”
“Like the first whiff of burning incense, or like the taste of one’s first cup of saké, there is in love that moment when all its power is felt.”
“Use your intellect to guide you, and you will end up putting people
off. Rely on your emotions, and you will forever be pushed around.
Force your will on others, and you will live in constant tension. There
is no getting around it—people are hard to live with.”
“To tell you the truth, I used to consider it a disgrace to be found ignorant by other people. But now, I find that I am not ashamed of knowing less than others, and I’m less inclined to force myself to read books. In short, I have grown old and decrepit.” “On the whole, all people are good, or at least they’re normal. The frightening thing is that they can suddenly turn bad when it comes to the crunch.”
“It is not you in particular that I distrust, but the whole of humanity.”
“No matter how fierce was the passion that gripped him, the fact is he was paralyzed, transfixed by the contemplation of his own past. Only something so momentous as to drive from his consciousness all thoughts of before and after could have propelled him forward. And with his eyes fixed on the past, he had no choice but to continue along its trajectory.”

American Art – Part III of IV: Stan Rice

Died 9 December 2002 – Stan Rice, an American painter, educator, and poet.

Below (left to right) – “Disconsolate Jockeys”; “Chicago Sundown”; “Italian Sisters”; “Pleasures of the Hearth”; “Almost Invisible Poppies”; “Two Flowers.”


A Poem for Today

“Gold in the Mountain,”
By Herman Melville

Gold in the mountain,
And gold in the glen,
And greed in the heart,
Heaven having no part,
And unsatisfied men.

Below – An image from “Greed” (1924), a silent film written and directed by Erich von Stroheim and based on the 1899 Frank Norris novel “McTeague.”
aMelville2 copy

American Art – Part IV of IV: Adam Vinson

Painter Adam Vinson (born 1978) has studied art at Luzerne County Community College, the Anthony Waichulis Studio, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

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