American Art – Part I of VI: Alton S. Tobey
“I live an artistic double life: one of classical realism and the other of aesthetic exploration.” – Alton S. Tobey, American painter, historical artist, muralist, portraitist, illustrator, and teacher of art, who died 4 January 2005.
Nobel Laureates – Part I of III: Henri Bergson
“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” – Henri Bergson, French philosopher, author of “Creative Evolution,” and recipient of the 1927 Nobel Prize in Literature “in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented,” who died 4 January 1942.
Some quotes from the work of Henri Bergson:
“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance.”
“Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.”
“The idea of the future, pregnant with an infinity of possibilities, is thus more fruitful than the future itself, and this is why we find more charm in hope than in possession, in dreams than in reality.”
“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth all sensation is already memory.”
“Europe is overpopulated, the world will soon be in the same condition, and if the self-reproduction of man is not rationalized… we shall have war.”
“Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks.”
Nobel Laureates – Part II of III: T. S. Eliot
“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.” – From “The Hollow Men,” by T. S. Eliot, poet, essayist, social and literary critic, playwright, and recipient of the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry,” who died 4 January 1965.
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.
With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.
You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.
His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o’clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.
I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
Nobel Laureates – Part III of III: Albert Camus
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” – Albert Camus, French writer, journalist, philosopher, author of “The Rebel” and “The Stranger,” and recipient of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times,” who died 4 January 1960.
Some quotes from the work of Albert Camus:
“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.”
“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
“Live to the point of tears.”
“There are causes worth dying for, but none worth killing for.”
“The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”
“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”
“Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Died 4 January 1901 – Nikolaos Gyzis, a Greek painter.
American Art – Part II of VI: Eve Arnold
Died 4 January 2012 – Eve Arnold, an American photographer and photojournalist.
“The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.” – Max Eastman, American writer on literature, philosophy, and society, poet, political activist, and author of “Enjoyment of Poetry,” who was born 4 January 1883.
Some quotes from the work of Max Eastman:
“Living well is the best revenge. If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
“History is not an escalator.”
“A smile is the universal welcome.”
“Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails.”
“Humor is the instinct for taking pain playfully.”
“People who demand neutrality in any situation are usually not neutral but in favor of the status quo.”
“The worst enemy of human hope is not brute facts, but men of brains who will not face them.”
“It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.”
“It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humor.”
“Classic art was the art of necessity: modern romantic art bears the stamp of caprice and chance.”
“I don’t know why it is we are in such a hurry to get up when we fall down. You might think we would lie there and rest for a while.”
American Art – Part III of VI: James Valerio
A Poem for Today
“Making a Meal Out of It,”
By Joel Lewis
Hoboken snowtime and the big slushy
mounds are the laundry of the future,
with next-door’s mortician rating
my clumsy shoveling by shouting:
“You’d never make it as a grave digger!”
Time pulse quickens with walkers
and curb lackeys merged in the quadrille
of symbiosis. In local shop windows
they sell devices capable
of reordering speech. I pass. I have
that exile’s sense of recreation
& believe rebirth is possible
from the wreck of our common misery
& that songs are clear when sung
American Art – Part IV of VI: Jim McVicker
According to one writer, Jim McVicker (born 1951) was “jolted to life by looking at landscape paintings. Moved by the sensitivity he saw in nineteenth century French landscapes, his perception of the world was changed.
McVicker’s style has been described as invigorating and effortless. Through paint he pursues atmosphere, form, light, and solid drawing. In his work McVicker seeks to express the ‘elusive spiritual energy, the mystery of nature and life, [and] the unknown.’ He believes that without this sensitivity to the land, his work would be ‘merely marks on a surface.’”
A Second Poem for Today
“Horses in Snow,”
By Roberta Hill Whiteman
They are a gift I have wanted again.
Wanted: One moment in mountains
when winter got so cold
the oil froze before it could burn.
I chopped ferns of hoarfrost from all the windows
and peered up at pines, a wedding cake
by a baker gone mad. Swirls by the thousand
shimmered above me until a cloud
lumbered over a ridge,
bringing the heavier white of more flurries.
I believed, I believed, I believed
it would last, that when you went out
to test the black ice or to dig out a Volkswagon
filled with rich women, you’d return
and we’d sputter like oil,
match after match, warm in the making.
Wisconsin’s flat farmland never approved:
I hid in cornfields far into October,
listening to music that whirled from my thumbprint.
When sunset played havoc with bright leaves of alders,
I never mentioned longing or fear.
I crouched like a good refugee in brown creeks
and forgot why Autumn is harder than Spring.
But snug on the western slope of that mountain
I’d accept every terror, break open seals
to release love’s headwaters to unhurried sunlight.
Weren’t we Big Hearts? Through some trick of silver
we held one another, believing each motion the real one,
ah, lover, why were dark sources bundled up
in our eyes? Each owned an agate,
marbled with anguish, a heart or its echo,
we hardly knew. Lips touching lips,
did that break my horizon
as much as those horses broke my belief?
You drove off and I walked the old road,
scolding the doubles that wanted so much.
The chestnut mare whinnied a cloud into scrub pine.
In a windless corner of a corral,
four horses fit like puzzle pieces.
Their dark eyes and lashes defined by the white.
The colt kicked his hind, loped from the fence.
The mares and a stallion galloped behind,
lifting and leaping, finding each other
in full accord with the earth and their bodies.
No harm ever touched them once they cut loose,
snorting at flurries falling again.
How little our chances for feeling ourselves.
They vanished so quickly—one flick of a tail.
Where do their mountains and moments begin?
I stood a long time in sharpening wind.
American Art – Part V of VI: Rodger Roundy
In the words of one critic, “American painter Rodger Roundy earned a BFA from Yale University. His numerous solo exhibitions include ones at the Mississippi State University Art Gallery, the Blue Room Gallery in San Francisco, and the David Levine Gallery.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Beyond the Red River,”
By Thomas McGrath
The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.
A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.
Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.
American Art – Part VI of VI: Malcolm T. Liepke
In the words of one writer, “Malcolm T. Liepke was born in 1953 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He studied at the Art Center College in Los Angeles but encountered significant obstacles in pursuit of his artistic vision. He hungered for ‘classical’ training rather than the conceptual ideas being taught. He moved to New York and began studying artists, such as Velasquez, Whistler, Chase, Vuillard and others. He says, ‘I learned color and composition and technique. I realized that their work was my kind of work. They were my heroes, so I became their student.’ Liepke’s first one-man show was held in the mid 1980’s followed by twelve more sold-out exhibitions from New York to London to Hong Kong. His work is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum and the Brooklyn Museum and he is considered by many to be one of the country’s leaders in the resurgence of figurative painting today. Liepke’s themes in human terms are often very particular to solitary moments, either in sensual pleasure or poignant loneliness.”