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

American Art – Part I of V: Amy Hill

Artist Statement: “Painting is both a material and historical process. Fifteenth century Flemish painters are my current inspiration. Their simultaneous naiveté and precocious power of observation are spiritually reassuring. My instincts as a painter are similar enough to theirs to allow me to conduct an ongoing dialogue with them.”
Amy Hill
Amy Hill
Amy Hill
Amy Hill
Amy Hill

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” – Thomas Paine, American political activist, author, political theorist, revolutionary, one of the greatest of the Founding Fathers, and author of “The American Crisis” (“These are the times that try men’s souls:”), who was born 29 January 1737.

Some quotes from the work of Thomas Paine:

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
“Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.”
“The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government.”
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.”
“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.”
“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”
“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”
“One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.”
“All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.”
“Character is much easier kept than recovered.”
“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
“I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.”
“Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter.”
“My own mind is my own church.”
“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”

American Art – Part II of V: Kostas Ulevicius

Here is one writer describing the background of ceramics sculptor Kostas Ulevicius (born 1961): “Kostas Ulevičius – born and trained in Lithuania – was a member of the teaching faculty in Fine Arts at Vilnius University, until he moved to the United States. Originally based in Chicago, Kostas Ulevičius established a new home and built a new working studio in St. Petersburg, FL.”

The Poetic Muse – Part I of III: John Keats

29 January 1818 – John Keats composes “When I Have Fears”

When I have fears that I may cease to be 

Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,

Before high-piled books, in charactery,

Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain;

When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,

And think that I may never live to trace

Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,

That I shall never look upon thee more,

Never have relish in the faery power

Of unreflecting love;–then on the shore

Of the wide world I stand alone, and think

Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

In the words of one writer, “Murman Kutchava was born in 1962 in Kutaisi, Georgia. In 1988 she was graduated from Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, having specialized in painting and she is qualified as an Artist of the Performance Art. Murman is the member of Georgian Artist’s Union since 1998. She has taken an active part in the republican exhibitions since 1990.
Murman Kutchava brilliantly mastered the painting techniques. Her works have modern design in color and texture. Some of her pictures are based on two or three colors; nevertheless, through intricate correlation she makes every color to ‘burn with a clear flame.’”
Murman Kutchava
Murman Kutchava

The Poetic Muse – Part II of III: Edgar Allan Poe

29 January 1845 – “The Raven” is published in the “New York Evening Mirror,” the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe.

“The Raven”

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Below – The final illustration for “The Raven,” by Gustave Dore.

Here is part of the Artist Statement of Chilean painter Claudia Olivos: “In a continuous labyrinth of all pictorial, ephemeral and permanent, I am oft distracted, cogitating on what my role as an artist is in society, so that it may more than purely inform as an aesthetic activity…but also act as a viable venue through which I, among others may be enabled to easier attain depths of vision, strength and understanding.
My own work is rooted, not only in my Latin American upbringing, but in the collection of Russian fairy tales my grandmother kept in her house in Santiago, Chile. As a teenager, it was a logical shift when I became interested in Kafka’s stories, which in college led me to discover the Surrealists. Later, I found that I had an affinity with the fact found within Magic Realism: that ancient beliefs and spirits can coexist with modern ones.
Through my work, I hope to capture the development of life, the experience of being.
To portray the tonal effects and subtle contrasts of color that help constitute the promontory, recesses and folds of the labyrinth of the mind, the genesis of the eternal. To find content which is not only valid, but valuable: which can stand on political, personal and moral ground—non calibrated extensions of emotion, discovery, explorations of the psyche, expressions of a magic-real or surreal sensibility, a mysterious spirituality devoid of legalistic religion—all woven together. To work forevermore intrigued by questions which hold mysteries lying within a multiplicity of answers, and to allow myself never to forget that I understand the necessity in life, to touch the earth.”

The Poetic Muse – Part III of III: Robert Frost

Robert Frost died on 29 January 1963.


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Died 29 January 1968 – Leonard Tsugouharu Foujita, a Japanese/French painter and printmaker who applied Japanese ink techniques to Western style paintings.

Below (left to right) – “Woman and Cat”; “Café”; “Normandie”; “Reclining Nude with Cat”; “Girl in a Field”; “Self-Portrait.”

From the American History Archives – Part I of II: The Bear River Massacre

In the words of one historian, “The Bear River Massacre, or the Battle of Bear River and the Massacre at Boa Ogoi, took place in present-day Idaho on January 29, 1863. The United States Army attacked Shoshone gathered at the confluence of the Bear River and Beaver Creek in what was then southeastern Washington Territory. The site is located near the present-day city of Preston in Franklin County, Idaho. Colonel Patrick Edward Connor led a detachment of California Volunteers as part of the Bear River Expedition against Shoshone Chief Bear Hunter.
As the Shoshone used tomahawks and bows and arrows for defense, the soldiers appeared to lose control. After killing most of the men and many of the children, they raped and assaulted the women. In some cases, soldiers held the feet of infants by the heel and “beat their brains out on any hard substance they could find. Women who resisted the soldiers were shot and killed. One local resident, Alexander Stalker, noted that many soldiers pulled out their pistols and shot several Shoshone at point blank range. The soldiers burned the Shoshone dwellings and supplies; they killed anyone they found in the shelters.”

Above – Patrick E. Connor after his promotion to General.
Below – A Shoshone prayer tree at the Bear River Massacre site.

In the words of one critic, “Svetlana Tiourina was born in 1964 in Perm (Urals, Russia). In 1994 she settled in Amsterdam, where she has been living and working. Until 2003, Tiourina worked as writer and illustrator of children’s books, which they gained great international recognition, which was ratified by the Price of the United Nations (New York, 2000). From 2004 Svetlana Tiourina fully devoted to painting. As a basis for her work she takes the traditional academic foundations, which they incorporated into their own insights. Insights not to think independently of her Russian soul.”

From the American History Archives – Part II of II: The Mantra-Rock Dance

29 January 1967 – What one cultural critic has called the “ultimate high” of the hippie generation, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco and features Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg.
In the words of one historian, “Mantra-Rock Dance was … organized by followers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as an opportunity for its founder, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, to address a wider public, and as a promotional and fundraising effort for their first center on the West Coast of the United States.”

Below – The Avalon Ballroom.

Portuguese painter Sara Morais (born 1990) earned an M.A. in Painting from the Department of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon.

American Comedic Genius: W. C. Fields

“I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol and wild women. The other half I wasted.” – W. C. Fields, American comedian, actor, juggler, and writer, who was born 29 January 1880.

Some quotes from the work of W. C. Fields:

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
“I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally. ”
“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
“I never hold a grudge. As soon as I get even with the son-of-a bitch, I forget it.”
“Everybody’s got to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”
“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”
“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
“Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.”
“I like children. If they’re properly cooked.”
“Fell in love with a beautiful blonde once. Drove me to drink. And I never had the decency to thank her.”
“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. ”
“A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for.”
“Ah, the patter of little feet around the house. There’s nothing like having a midget for a butler. ”
“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.”
“Never try to impress a woman, because if you do she’ll expect you to keep up the standard for the rest of your life.”
“Marry an outdoors woman. That way, if you have to throw her out into the yard for the night, she can still survive.”
“Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.”
“I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.”
“What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?”
“Children should neither be seen nor heard from – ever again.”
“You can’t trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.”
“There’s no such thing as a tough child – if you parboil them first for seven hours, they always come out tender.”
“If I had to live my life over, I’d live over a saloon.”
“Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of snakebite, and furthermore, always carry a small snake.”
“You can fool some of the people some of the time — and that’s enough to make a decent living.”
“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
“My illness is due to my doctor’s insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.”
“I’ve never hit a woman in my life. Not even my own mother.”

Below – W. C. Fields portraying Mr. Snavely in the 1933 comedy classic “The Fatal Glass of Beer.”
American Art – Part III of V: Allison Leigh Smith

Artist Statement: “This is an exciting time for me. I am still experimenting with subjects to find what interests me the most. I embrace complex surfaces, strong light, and rich color, anything to test and expand my technical ability. I am consistently drawn to the textures and expressions of animals. It’s very difficult to do justice to a living creature, especially one that does not sit still and pose for you. Since the rest of my work is so controlled, I love this added element of unpredictability and surprise. I never know when an animal is going to give me a perfect moment; a fleeting glance that can create a beautiful painting. It’s not something I can plan and execute. It’s a gift. My greatest challenge is to capture their personality as realistically as their image.”

A Poem for Today

“Afternoon on a Hill,”
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down!

Below – “Afternoon on a Hill,” by Yelena Bryksenkova.

American Art – Part IV of V: Ryan Pickart

In the words of one writer, “His work features portraits in oil bridging the gap between abstract and realism.”

“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.” – Edward Abbey, American writer, essayist, environmentalist, social and political critic, anarchist, and author of “Desert Solitaire,” “The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West,” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” who was born 29 January 1927.

Some quotes from the work of Edward Abbey:

“There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.”
“Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.”
“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.”
“Our ‘neoconservatives’ are neither new nor conservative, but old as Babylon and evil as Hell.”
“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyong reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.”
“Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.”
“We know so very little about this strange planet we live on, this haunted world where all answers lead only to more mystery.”
“I love America because it is a confused, chaotic mess – and I hope we can keep it this way for at least another thousand years. The permissive society is the free society.”
“Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing.”
“The distrust of wit is the beginning of tyranny.”
“Benedicto: May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.”
“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”
“Wilderness. The word itself is music.”

American Art – Part V of V: Six Landscape Painters

Below – Winslow Homer: “Driftwood” (1909); Ralph Albert Blakelock: “Moonlight Sonata” (1889-1892); Thomas Cole: “Kaaterskill Falls, Hudson Valley, New York” (1826); Martin Johnson Heade: “Singing Beach, New Hampshire” (1863); Albert Bierstadt: “In the Sierra Nevada, California” (1875-1877); Georgia O’Keeffe: “Pedernal” (1942).

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