January Offerings – Part XVI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Clifford Smith

According to one critic, American “Clifford Smith is a realist painter best known for seascapes and landscapes in which he seeks to, ‘parallel nature rather than imitate it.’ Motivated by a desire to ‘get beyond the physical essence of something,’ Smith encompasses a broader experience of a subject, by expressing its past, present, and future. Often his spatial compositions appear to extend beyond the perimeters of the picture frame to convey the transient nature of experience. Clifford Smith’s influences include Caravaggio, John Constable, and contemporary painters such as Rackstraw Downes, Frank Stella, and Gerhard Richter.”

Here is one writer describing the artistry of Dutch painter Yvonne Olgers: “Yvonne Olgers can be described as an unique and versatile artist, always fascinated by the diversity of nature and mystery of the world around us. Currently, women in particular are her great inspiration. A glance, a loose shoulder trap, a daydream on a face.
Yvonne is keen on using contrasts. Paint that drips from the canvas and finding it’s own way alongside clear choices and sharp details: ‘In my work you often see different combinations of materials and techniques. Many structures, splashing paint, pieces of paper, transparent acrylic, homemade paint, chalk, glue, etc. While I am painting I try to catch a piece of inner beauty, a feeling, an idea, basically that what you do not see.’”

“The Northern Lights have seen queer sights…” – From “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” by Robert W. Service, Canadian writer and poet called “The Bard of the Yukon,” who was born 16 January 1874.

“A Grain of Sand”

If starry space no limit knows

And sun succeeds to sun,

There is no reason to suppose

Our earth the only one.

‘Mid countless constellations cast

A million worlds may be,

With each a God to bless or blast

And steer to destiny.

Just think! A million gods or so

To guide each vital stream,

With over all to boss the show

A Deity supreme.

Such magnitudes oppress my mind;

From cosmic space it swings;

So ultimately glad to find

Relief in little things.

For look! Within my hollow hand,

While round the earth careens,

I hold a single grain of sand

And wonder what it means.

Ah! If I had the eyes to see,

And brain to understand,

I think Life’s mystery might be

Solved in this grain of sand.

Died 16 January 1943 – Franz Courtens, a Flemish painter.

Below (left to right) – “Sunny Lane”; “The Mussel Boat”; “Under the Trees in Autumn”; “Lady in Blue”; “After the Rain.”


Died 16 January 1901 – Arnold Böcklin, a Swiss symbolist painter.

Below (left to right) – “Isle of the Dead”; “The Homecoming”; “Mermaids at Play”; “Idyll”; “Self-Portrait.”

16 January 1908 – President Theodore Roosevelt establishes Pinnacles National Monument in California. On 10 January 2013, President Barack Obama signed into law a bill passed by Congress making the monument a National Park.

Here is the Artist Statement of British artist Jackie Morris: ”I was born in Birmingham and lived there until at the age of four my parents moved away to Evesham.
Here I grew up and remember little of those times. I do know that from at least the age of six I wanted to be an artist. I watched my dad drawing a picture of a lapwing, making a bird appear on a piece of paper using only a pencil, and I thought it was some magic that made this happen. So there and then I decided to learn how to conjure birds from paper and colour.
I went to school in Evesham to Prince Henry’s High School and I remember walking to school past shop fronts above which elegant buildings grew. I used to get told off at school for drawing and dreaming. Now I get paid to do both.”

In the words of one writer, “Vanni Saltarelli was born in Lombardy in 1945. He studied art in Milan and started exhibiting his work in 1964. His early participation in competitions has won him numerous awards. Salterelli’s paintings are characterized by a highly dynamic representation of the figure in motion. Harmoniously expressionistic, the female form is balanced with a tension between color and graphics. His paintings are part of important collections in the U.S. as well as in Europe and a significant book has been published on his work.”
Vanni Saltarelli
Vanni Saltarelli
Consultant in Poetry Robert Fitzgerald. Photo by Myriam Champigny

Died 16 January 1985 – Robert Fitzgerald, an American poet, critic, and translator whose renderings of the Greek classics, in the words of one critic, “became standard works for a generation of scholars and students.”


The adolescent night, breath of the town,
Porch swings and whispers, maple leaves unseen
Deploying moonlight quieter than a man dead
After the locust’s song. These homes were mine
And are not now forever, these on the steps
Children I think removed to many places,
Lost among hushed years, and so strangely known.

This business is well ended. If in the dark
The firefly made his gleam and sank therefrom,
Yet someone’s hand would have him, the wet grass
Bed him no more. From corners of the lawn
The dusk-white dresses flutter and are past.
Before our bed time there were things to say,
Remembering tree-bark, crickets, and the first star…

After, and as the sullenness of time
Went on from summer, here in a land alien
Made I my perfect fears and flower of thought:
Sleep being no longer swift in the arms of pain,
Revisitations are convenient with a cough,
And there is something I would say again
If I had not forever, if there were time.

Below – “The Artist’s Dream,” by John Anster Fitzgerald (1819-1906).

Brazilian painter Renato Costa (born 1974) lives and works in Madrid.

“In France, I’m an auteur; in Germany, a filmmaker; in Britain, a genre film director; and, in the USA, a bum.” – John Carpenter, American film director, screenwriter, producer, editor, and composer, who was born 16 January 1948.

No movie-loving American could possibly consider John Carpenter a bum, since he has created at least three cinematic masterpieces (“Halloween” [1980], “The Thing” [1982], and “Big Trouble in Little China” [1986]) and two near-masterpieces (“The Fog” [1980] and “Prince of Darkness” [1987]).

American Art – Part II of IV: Suzanne Vincent

Suzanne Vincent earned an Ma from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

American Art – Part III of IV: David FeBland

In the words of one writer, London-born, New York-based painter David FeBland (born 1949) enjoys “exploring narratives with characters negotiating different situations and environments.”


A Poem for Today

“The Farmer,”
by W.D. Ehrhart

Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields.

American Art – Part IV of IV: Andrew Wyeth

“I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future – the timelessness of the rocks and the hills – all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” – Andrew Wyeth, American painter, who died 16 January 2009.

Below – “Wolf Moon”; “The Carry”; “Geraniums”; “Turkey Pond”;
“Master Bedroom”; “Wind from the Sea”; “Distant Thunder”;
“Night Sleeper”; “Daydream”; “Autumn.”
The Mountains – Part I of VI: John Muir

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.”

Below – “The Mountain,” a scanned image from “Alaska Days with John Muir,” by Samuel Hall Young (published in 1915).

The Mountains – Part II of VI: Li Po

“Green Mountain”

You ask me why I make my home in the mountain forest,
and I smile, and am silent,
and even my soul remains quiet;
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom.
The water flows.

Below – “Green Mountain,” by Stacy Wills.

The Mountains – Part III of VI: John Marsden

“I’m a person of the mountains and the open paddocks and the big empty sky, that’s me, and I knew if I spent too long away from all that I’d die; I don’t know what of, I just knew I’d die.”

Below – The Grampians, Victoria, Austalia.


The Mountains – Part IV of VI: Philip Connors

“The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble — to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consumer nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.”

The Mountains – Part V of VI: Robert Macfarlane

“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction – so easy to lapse into – that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.”


The Mountains – Part VI of VI: Jeffrey Rasley

“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.”

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