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

American Art – Part I of V: Thalia Stratton

Artist Statement: “Trained as an illustrator, I am naturally drawn to narrative and to using my work to suggest a story. These works are of unidentifiable but real subjects, and they are meant to be accessible to anyone’s imagination. My process begins as recording a specific moment at a specific place, and then transforming it into a fictional scene in order to create a powerful and distinct mood. My approach to color and light is in the forefront of my style, and is the main contribution to this transformation into mood: a limited palette of muted, sophisticated darks, minimal intensity, subtle values, along with the clarity of white to indicate how light plays off forms and seems to intensify darkness. With an expanded sense of place, I want viewers to feel so welcomed into the scene that they can create their own story of sense of place, and even imagined memories of what may have happened then and there.
Whether indicating backlighting or the warm soft glow of a quiet interior, whether tracing fleeting streams of light to achieve a graphic or dramatic effect, I strive for timeless transformed from the everyday moment, building a window into a visual dialogue with the viewer’s boundless imagination.”

“A single day is enough to make us a little larger or, another time, a little smaller.” – Paul Klee, Swiss-German painter whose style was influenced by Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism, who was born on 18 December 1879.

Below – “Flower Myth”; “Nocturnal Festivity”; “The Goldfish”; “To Parnassus”; “Heroic Roses”; “Red Balloon.”

“Basically, I only play one character; I just play him at different volumes.” – Christ Farley, American comedian and actor famous for his skits on “Saturday Night Live,” who died on 18 December 1997.

American Art – Part II of V: Tae Park

Artist Statement: ‘Painting is a doorway into another world – a gateway to another reality. It is not only an illusion of three-dimensional space, but a reflection of the world that exists within me. This inner world that I paint is partly based on reality, but it is an idealized reality. It is a place of calmness that exists in fleeting moments of time. With painting, I am able to capture these serene moments. The people, place, and events that I paint are frozen in a moment of time and reality that may not have existed in the material world (the world that we live in).”

“Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.” – Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident politician, author of “The Garden Party,” and ninth and last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1992), who died on 18 December 2011.

Some quotes from Vaclav Havel:

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.”
“Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.”
“Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy.”
“The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning – in other words, of absurdity – the more energetically meaning is sought.
“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.”
“If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He’s not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he’s really needed.”
“The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both.”
“Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have – by disrupting that order – a way of surprising.”
“Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.”
“The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.”
“But if I were to say who influenced me most, then I’d say Franz Kafka. And his works were always anchored in the Central European region.”
“I think it’s important for one to take a certain distance from oneself.”
“None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.”
“There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight.”
“Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.”


Argentinean painter Mirian Constan (born 1961) graduated from the School of Arts in the Department of Philosophy and Humanities of the National University of Cordoba in 1987.

From the Music Archives: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

18 December 1892 – The premiere performance of “The Nutcracker” takes place in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Italian painter Goffredo Civitarese lives and works in Pescara.

18 December 1888 – Cliff Wetherill (1858-1910), a Colorado rancher and amateur explorer of excavation sites associated with the Ancient Pueblo People, discovers the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde. In the words of one historian, “(Wetherill) was responsible for initially selecting the term ‘Anasazi,’ Navajo for ‘ancient enemies,’ as the name for these ancient people.”

American Art – Part III of V: Guy Pene du Bois

In the words of one art historian, “Guy Pène du Bois (1884-1958) was an early 20th century American painter. Born in the US to a French family, his work specialised in the culture and society around him: cafes, theatres, and in the twenties, flappers.”


If you’re looking for a holiday gift for a person who enjoys fly fishing, here’s a book recommendation:

Sheridan Anderson (1936-1984) was an American outdoorsman, author, illustrator, and, above all, a fly fisherman. Anderson dropped out of college and became involved in rock climbing, writing and drawing for various climbing publications and co-authoring books on the subject with Royal Robbins. In 1976, Anderson published “The Curtis Creek Manifesto,” which Yvon Chouinard, a fellow outdoorsman who founded the Patagonia outdoor clothing company, has called “probably the best beginner’s treatise on how to fly-fish.” My youngest son, who is an ardent (if ineffectual) fly fisherman, swears by this witty and richly informative book, and though I am not a member of the fly fishing cult, I have read “The Curtis Creek Manifesto” several times, always with great pleasure.

American Art – Part IV of V: Richard Maury

In the words of one critic, “Richard Maury (born 1935) is a mature painter who is considered to be an important and continuing link in the rich tradition of American realism — the logical successor to John Singer Sargent and John Koch.
While still in his 20’s, Maury chose to leave the United States and settle in Italy. Ever since, he has lived in Florence and has worked diligently in pursuit of his craft, creating paintings that are set in his old and picturesque living quarters. Like Vermeer, his attention to detail is breathtaking without becoming overworked and trite. His flowing, painterly technique depicts haunting light that drifts through halls and beats through windows to create airy atmospheres. The mundane is elevated to magnificence.
Richard Maury paints his environs with scrupulously direct observation. His rooms are full of life’s discards and endless intriguing objects. In everyday life, these objects would be unseen — in a Maury painting the unseen is bared for all to see and treated with reverence. People appear rarely and are assimilated as another beautifully rendered texture — plain, simple and resonating with radiance.”

aStafford1 copy

A Poem for Today

“A Ritual to Read to Each Other,”
By William Stafford

If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

American Art – Part V of V: Megan Chapman

Artist Statement: “I was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I received my B.F.A. in painting from the University of Oregon. I have shown my work over the past nineteen years extensively throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. My work has appeared in various publications and is held in numerous private collections nationally as well as internationally. I create mixed media works on paper, canvas and panel. I love maps, pencil lines, vintage paper and paint.”

Below – “We Will Sink to the Bottom of the Ocean Together”; “Dreams of Fish”; “Stories of Her Travels”; “Falling into Sound”; “We Took the Quiet Roads”; “Remain a Stranger”; “If You Listen”; “New Lanark World Heritage Site”; “View From My Studio.”

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