American Art – Part I of IV: Jennifer Lewis Takahashi
In the words of one writer, “Jennifer Lewis Takahashi is a South Orange resident who has been painting for about 17 years. She holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and has worked in the animation and textile design industries.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: The Supremes
29 December 1965 – The Supremes release “My World is Empty Without You.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Marianne Faithfull
Maybe the most that you can expect from a relationship that goes bad is to come out of it with a few good songs.” – Marianne Faithfull, English singer, songwriter, and actress, who was born 29 December 1946 and who has suffered many bad relationships.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian painter Daniel Sanger (born 1978): “Daniel’s works explore contemporary subjects and themes. They are predominantly figurative with much emphasis on mood and feeling. Daniel strives to forge strong connections between work and viewer, allowing the viewer to invest their emotion within his art. He achieves this with such devices as the subtlety of a subject’s gaze, body language and lighting. Daniel studied Graphic Design at Charles Stuart University and has a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design.”
From the American Old West: Wounded Knee
29 December 1890 – Spotted Elk (who later became known by the name “Big Foot”), a Sioux Indian chief, dies along with approximately 150 members of his tribe in the Wounded Knee Massacre in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the last battle of the American Indian Wars. The site is now a National Historic Landmark.
Here is the Artist Statement of South Korean painter Rim Lee: “Even though we, as unique individuals, live in a different environment, at a point of time we feel the same when we look at an object. When I am having a conversation with my family and friends, I feel that we are of a same mind. I believe that one admits the difference and similarity of each creature through interacting with each other. Based upon the perception of such commonality, I try to put the incidental excitement into a two-dimensional surface of colors to propose you to another imaginative phantasmal world.”
“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” – Famous proverb.
29 December 1837 – With the help of British Royal Navy Captain Andrew Drew, a party of Canadian militia seizes the American steamship Caroline, chases off the crew, tows her into the current, sets her afire, and casts her adrift over Niagara Falls. Alas, very few Americans know about this dastardly assault upon the citizens, property, and honor of our Republic, and I think that it is time to take revenge upon our Canadian enemies.
I propose that a group of patriotic Americans join me in attacking the R.C.M.P. station commanded by inspector Fenwick, kidnapping Dudley Do-Right, symbol of all that is great, good, and laughable about Canada, and setting him adrift on an ice floe just above Ripsaw Falls. I know that this is a risky venture, since Canadians are so polite and their country is so beautiful that some of our party might be tempted to desert and take up residence in Prince Edward Island or the Yukon, but I am sure that we can count on the support of at least one utterly villainous Canuck: Snidely Whiplash, the sworn enemy of Dudley Do-Right, a total miscreant, and one of my boyhood heroes.
Above – An artist’s rendering of the Caroline Incident.
American Art – Part II of IV: Laura Cutler
In the words of one writer, “Laura received her BFA in ceramic sculpture from the Otis College of Art and Design in 1996. She had the distinct honor to be a member of the last graduating class under the mentorship of world-renowned ceramic sculptor Ralph Bacerra.
In 1999 Laura attended the New York Academy of Art to increase her knowledge of human anatomy in both sculpture and painting.”
A Poem for Today
“Winter Morning Walks,”
By Ted Kooser
Just as a dancer, turning and turning,
may fill the dusty light with the soft swirl
of her flying skirts, our weeping willow —
now old and broken , creaking in the breeze —
turns slowly, slowly in the winter sun,
sweeping the rusty roof of the barn
with the pale blue lacework of her shadow.
Here is the Artist Statement of French painter Fabienne Rivory: “My images are built around photographs that are picked in my personal collection: landscapes, nature, silhouettes…
These are individual memories but, through the choice of the photos, the way they are processed, and the minimalism of the resulting pictures, they become more universally evocative and can remain anybody a place, a memory, an emotion…
Painting is made of gouache or inks that are then digitally combined with photos, it is employed as textures, splatters or lines and shifts the images in a dreamy register. It brings vibrancy and add the strength of colors and shapes to raw photographs which creates a more subjective and poetic vision.
These are dreamed images trying to recreate a momentary emotion that anyone can feel in front of nature’s beauty, a particular architectural shape, a landscape passing by or the silhouette of a beloved one.”
“Population, when unchecked, increases in geometrical progression of such a nature as to double itself every twenty-five years.” – Thomas Malthus, British scholar and author of “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” who died on 29 December 1834.
Thanks to the unexpected advent of the fossil fuel era and the industrial and technological marvels it helped produce, the dire predictions of Thomas Malthus have been dismissed and even ridiculed for well over a century. However, with oil past peak, human population at or near seven billion, the green revolution wilting, and a global economy based on the principle of unsustainable growth faltering badly and destroying the environment, the genius and prescience of Malthus grow yearly more impressive.
“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” – Albert Allen Bartlett, emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a contemporary heir to the Malthusian intellectual tradition. In the words of one writer, “Bartlett regards the word combination “sustainable growth” as an oxymoron, since even modest annual percentage population increases will inevitably equate to huge exponential growth over sustained periods of time. He therefore regards human overpopulation as ‘The Greatest Challenge facing humanity.’ In his words, ‘Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?’”
Please watch Professor Bartlett’s edifying, thought-provoking, and deeply disturbing lecture, and then take some time to ponder the potential consequences for our species of continuing to ignore his arguments.
American Art – Part III of IV: Andrea Benson
Artist Statement: “My work with encaustic seems like a fusion of many of my past art explorations; which included ceramics, papermaking, printmaking, photography and mixed media collage. There is a sensuality of material and a sense of partnership with the medium that is integral to my enjoyment of the process and to the success of any piece. It is tactile, malleable and rich and also allows the delight of using a fragrant byproduct of the interaction of bees with flowers. It feels akin to cooking, creating a surface that often exudes an edible quality. Unpredictable and surprising effects happen frequently and there is a constant interplay between transparency, opacity, layering and subtle dimensionality. By combining drawing and paper with wax the potential of this interplay seems infinitely expanded.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Jennifer Elise Foerster
Once there were coyotes, cardinals
in the cedar. You could cure amnesia
with the trees of our back-forty. Once
I drowned in a monsoon of frogs—
Grandma said it was a good thing, a promise
for a good crop. Grandma’s perfect tomatoes.
Squash. She taught us to shuck corn, laughing,
never spoke about her childhood
or the faces in gingerbread tins
stacked in the closet.
She was covered in a quilt, the Creek way.
But I don’t know this kind of burial:
vanishing toads, thinning pecan groves,
peach trees choked by palms.
New neighbors tossing clipped grass
over our fence line, griping to the city
of our overgrown fields.
Grandma fell in love with a truck driver,
grew watermelons by the pond
on our Indian allotment,
took us fishing for dragonflies.
When the bulldozers came
with their documents from the city
and a truckload of pipelines,
her shotgun was already loaded.
Under the bent chestnut, the well
where Cosetta’s husband
hid his whiskey—buried beneath roots
her bundle of beads. They tell
the story of our family. Cosetta’s land
flattened to a parking lot.
Grandma potted a cedar sapling
I could take on the road for luck.
She used the bark for heart lesions
doctors couldn’t explain.
To her they were maps, traces of home,
the Milky Way, where she’s going, she said.
After the funeral
I stowed her jewelry in the ground,
promised to return when the rivers rose.
On the grassy plain behind the house
one buffalo remains.
Along the highway’s gravel pits
sunflowers stand in dense rows.
Telephone poles crook into the layered sky.
A crow’s beak broken by a windmill’s blade.
It is then I understand my grandmother:
When they see open land
they only know to take it.
I understand how to walk among hay bales
looking for turtle shells.
How to sing over the groan of the county road
widening to four lanes.
I understand how to keep from looking up:
small planes trail overhead
as I kneel in the Johnson grass
combing away footprints.
Up here, parallel to the median
with a vista of mesas’ weavings,
the sky a belt of blue and white beadwork,
I see our hundred and sixty acres
stamped on God’s forsaken country,
a roof blown off a shed,
beams bent like matchsticks,
a drove of white cows
making their home
in a derailed train car.
American Art – Part IV of IV: Ed Wong-Ligda
In the words of one writer, “Ed Wong-Ligda did his undergraduate work in Advertising Design and Illustration at Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. He has a MFA in painting from the University of Tulsa. Among his clients as a designer/illustrator are Benjamin Cummings, Cheshire Books, Dell Publishing and Van Nostrand Reinhold. He is currently a figurative painter and muralist with work in many private and public collections including the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Appalachian State University, the State of Oregon and the State of Missouri. He is the coordinator of Illustration at GVSU.”