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

American Art – Part I of IV: Victor Bauer

Artist Statement: “My name is Victor Bauer and currently I live and work in New York. My work can be found in corporate and private collections in the US, Europe and Canada. I consider myself a self-taught artist. Painting comes as natural as walking to me. My father was a painter, and I grew up playing in his studio, drawing experimenting with colors.
My earlier works were mostly abstracts and during these years I developed my own style and technique using mostly just a palette knife. My fascination with the human figure for its timeless sensitivity is reflected in my latest works. In my paintings I try not only just to replicate a scene, but to create the mood and feelings. Sometime when I feel it, I incorporate abstract fragments in a composition. I start with a drawing. When I’m satisfied with the composition, I begin to apply paint in bold strokes with a palette knife. My knife strokes are deliberate, strong and well placed. The goal is to be precise and minimal to create work that is striking and yet simple. The painting becomes almost 3D sculpting. I take away what is not important but concentrate on proportions and light.”

“Though man a thinking being is defined,
Few use the grand prerogative of mind.
How few think justly of the thinking few!
How many never think, who think they do!” – Ann Taylor, English poet and literary critic, who died on 20 December 1866.

“The Star”

TWINKLE, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are !
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the trav’ller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

In the dark blue sky you keep,
And often thro’ my curtains peep,
For you never shut your eye,
Till the sun is in the sky.

‘Tis your bright and tiny spark,
Lights the trav’ller in the dark :
Tho’ I know not what you are,
Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Artist Miguel Freitas grew up in Lisbon, Portugal and moved to Toronto in 1983. Here is how one critic describes his artistry: “His use of vibrant colors is what often strikes people first. The paintings convincingly depict the naïve impressions and memories left in your mind years after visiting a place. His unique style and execution bring to mind images of great frescoes on old crumbling wall.”

From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Bobby Colomby

Born 20 December 1944 – Bobby Colomby, an American drummer and an original member of Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Greek painter Tasos Chonias was born in Athens in 1974.

From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Peter, Paul, and Mary

20 December 1969 – Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” reaches number one on American popular music charts.

Frank Creton (born 1941) is a Surinamese artist who studied painting in the Netherlands.

Below (left to right) – “Midnight Serenade”; “Playful Dogs”; “Coronie No. 7”; “Basketball Players”; “Old Creole”; “Self-Portrait.”


“I dislike organized games, swimming pools, fashionable resorts, night clubs, music in restaurants, and political manifestoes; I enjoy driving from coast to coast, good food and drink, a few friends, dogs, the theatre, long walks, music, and free conversation.” – James Hilton, English writer and author of “Lost Horizon” and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” who died on 20 December 1954.

Some quotes from the work of James Hilton:

“if we have not found the heaven within, we have not found the heaven without.”
“Have you ever been going somewhere with a crowd and you’re certain it’s the wrong road and you tell them, but they won’t listen, so you just have to plod along in what you know is the wrong direction till somebody more important gets the same idea?”
“If I could put it into a very few words, dear sir, I should say that our prevalent belief is in moderation. We inculcate the virtue of avoiding excesses of all kinds—even including, if you will pardon the paradox, excess of virtue itself.”
“Is there not too much tension in the world at present, and might it not be better if more people were slackers?”
“What a host of little incidents, all deep-buried in the past — problems that had once been urgent, arguments that had once been keen, anecdotes that were funny only because one remembered the fun. Did any emotion really matter when the last trace of it had vanished from human memory; and if that were so, what a crowd of emotions clung to him as to their last home before annihilation? He must be kind to them, must treasure them in his mind before their long sleep.”
“There’s only one thing more important… and that is, after you’ve done what you set out to do, to feel that it’s been worth doing.”
James Hilton

Spanish figurative painter Concepcion Ventoso was born in Granada in 1961.

“What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.” – Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist and author of “The Neurotic’s Notebook,” who died 20 December 1983.

Some quotes from the work of Mignon McLaughlin:

“Society honors its living conformists and its dead troublemakers.”
“Anything you lose automatically doubles in value.”
“Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.”
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
“It’s the most unhappy people who most fear change.”
“A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.”
“For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance.”
“Learning too soon our limitations, we never learn our powers.”
“It is important to our friends to believe that we are unreservedly frank with them, and important to friendship that we are not.”
“The head never rules the heart, but just becomes its partner in crime.”
“We all become great explorers during our first few days in a new city, or a new love affair.”
“If you made a list of reasons why any couple got married, and another list of the reasons for their divorce, you’d have a hell of a lot of overlapping.”
“Even cowards can endure hardship; only the brave can endure suspense.”
“There is always some specific moment when we become aware that our youth is gone; but, years after, we know it was much later.”
“No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you’ll see why.”
“We’d all like a reputation for generosity, and we’d all like to buy it cheap.”
“Our strength is often composed of the weakness that we’re damned if we’re going to show.”
“There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today.”
“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”
“If you are brave too often, people will come to expect it of you.”
“Most of us become parents long before we have stopped being children.”
“It took man thousands of years to put words down on paper, and his lawyers still wish he wouldn’t.”
“It’s innocence when it charms us, ignorance when it doesn’t.”
“No matter how brilliantly an idea is stated, we will not really be moved unless we have already half thought of it ourselves.”
“There are a handful of people whom money won’t spoil, and we all count ourselves among them.”

Turkish painter Nihal Martli (born 1982) graduated from the Department of Fine Arts of Hacettepe University.

Died 20 December 1820 – John Bell, a central figure in the Bell Witch ghost story of southern American folklore. From “History of Tennessee,” by the Goodspeed Brothers: “A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide-spread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the ‘Bell Witch.’ This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The feats it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfort of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary.”

Above – An artist’s etching of the Bell home, originally published in 1894.

Below – An artist’s drawing of Betsy, Bell’s youngest daughter, who allegedly suffered violent encounters with the evil spirit.

Here is the Artist Statement of Australian painter Erika Gofton: ”I am celebrating the sensitivity and beauty of the female figure. I wish to present an intimate look at womanhood and to create works depicting beauty, grace and harmony. I am captivated by the female form and intrigued with the subtlety between the sensual and the sexual, the unique motifs and iconography associated with femininity.
Texture, fabric and drapery play an integral role in my work. The natural beauty of the body and the echo of form beneath the natural folds of the drapery suggests a quiet and captivating sexuality. The evocative suggestion of flesh showing through lace is enchanting.
Lacework, embroidery, patternmaking and fabric designs, uniquely female experiences and motifs, are also prominent in my work and symbolise characteristically female practices. The strong design and composition of these elements also aim to reflect shapes and forms in the figure and the chosen dresses, offering a work built on layers of pattern and form. By hand stitching on the canvas in some works aims to give another layer of significance to the painted layers beneath but also employs the practice I am celebrating.”


In the words of one historian, “On December 20, 1803, William Claiborne, former governor of the Mississippi Territory, and James Wilkinson, Commanding General of the United States Army, met with French representative Pierre Laussat in the Sala Capitular (capitol room) at the Cabildo in New Orleans. There they signed the document transferring the Louisiana Territory and ceremoniously passed the keys of the city from French hands to American hands.”

Below – “Ceremonial Transfer of the Louisiana Purchase in New Orleans – 1803,” by Mike Wimmer.

American Art – Part II of IV: David Gray

In the words of one writer, “David Gray acquired a strong foundational education in art while obtaining his BFA from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. His art education has continued with independent and occasional formal studies in pictorial expression and oil painting. The resulting work reveals a personal and contemporary expression of beauty and order which pays homage to the Classical Tradition in its craftsmanship. David’s works are included in many discriminating private art collections throughout the United States and abroad.”

“The older I get, the more I’m conscious of ways very small things can make a change in the world. Tiny little things, but the world is made up of tiny matters, isn’t it?” – Sandra Cisneros, American writer and author of “The House on Mango Street,” who was born on 20 December 1954.

Some quotes from the work of Sandra Cisneros:

“I spent my thirties living out of boxes and moving every six months to a year. It was my cloud period: I just wandered like a cloud for ten years, following the food supply. I was a hunter, gatherer, an academic migrant.”
“I wanted to write something in a voice that was unique to who I was. And I wanted something that was accessible to the person who works at Dunkin Donuts or who drives a bus, someone who comes home with their feet hurting like my father, someone who’s busy and has too many children, like my mother.”
“Well, I’m Buddhist, Ray, and so part of my Buddhism has allowed me to look a little more deeply at people and the events in my life that created me. And I think a lot of that Buddhism comes out in the world view in this novel.”
“All of my work is influenced by fairy tales, and I hope my work shows Hans Christian Anderson’s influence.”
“I think people should read fairy tales, because we’re hungry for a mythology that will speak to our fears.”

American Art – Part III of IV: David Michael Bowers

In the words of one writer, “David Michael Bowers born 1956 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from art school in Pittsburgh in 1979. He began working as a staff artist at various studios in Pittsburgh. Two years later, David began teaching at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he lectured for ten years. This job was perfect for Bowers at the time due to the short hours in the classroom. These short workdays enabled a lot of free time to perfect his painting technique before he entered the illustration field.”

Nobel Laureate: John Steinbeck

“I’ve seen a look in dogs’ eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.” – John Steinbeck, American writer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize (for “The Grapes of Wrath”), and recipient of the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature for his “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception,” who died 20 December 1968.

Some quotes from the work of John Steinbeck:

“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”
“All great and precious things are lonely.”
“And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.”
“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
“I guess there are never enough books.”

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A Poem for Today

“Dark Ceiling,”
by Edward Dorn

Broad black scar the valley is
and sunday is
…… the wide arc
..the small lights of homes come on
in that trough.

……Burnish my heart
……with this mark

Furnish my soul with the hope
Far away and by a river
In the darkness of a walnut stand.

no home, no back.

All is this wrong key, the lark
……but his voice trails off
in the snow. He has not
brought his meadow.
The starling’s
..insolent whistle
is the truth here — dark smoke

drifts in from the morning fertilizer factory
and men there return lamely
to work, their disputes not settled.

Below – The largest lead mine in the world surrounded by dead trees – Kellogg, Idaho: photograph by Arthur Rothstein, July 1936.

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American Art – Part IV of IV: Hollis Dunlap

In the words of one critic, “Born in northeastern Vermont in 1977, Hollis Dunlap is a painter living on the east coast of Connecticut in the USA. He paints modern paintings with a strong influence of old masters from Caravaggio to Vermeer. The color choices, brushwork, and compositions reflect the influences of various painters, from representational to more abstract in terms of composition and varying applications of paint.”

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