February Offerings – Part XV: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of V: Chistina Ramos

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Christina Ramos: “Christina Ramos’s paintings express her love of people and the world around her. Her use of vibrant color and realistic technique, have made her an award-winning artist. A native Californian, Christina uses acrylics in her unique candid portraits. She is the fourth generation in a family of artists and musicians.
Christina’s portraits range from romantic, to humorous and include serious subject matter as well. Her paintings of people affected by the AIDS crises and poverty are used to help raise awareness and funding for these important issues.”

From the Music Archives – Part I of VI: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka

Died 15 February 1857 – Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, a Russian composer often regarded as the father of Russian classical music.

Glinka’s Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla” is a musical delight.

From the Music Archives – Part II of VI: Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin

Died 15 February 1887 (Old Style) – Alexander Porfiryevich Borodin, a Russian composer, doctor, and chemist who was dedicated to producing a specifically Russian kind of art music.

Borodin’s “In the Steppes of Central Asia” is a hauntingly beautiful composition – and one of my favorite pieces of classical music.

German artist Justine Otto (born 1974) studied painting at the State University of Fine Arts in Frankfurt.

American Art – Part II of V: Art Spiegelman

“Samuel Beckett once said: ‘Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.’ On the other hand, he SAID it.” – Art Spiegelman, American cartoonist, editor, comics advocate, and author of the graphic novels “Maus” and “In the Shadow of No Towers,” who was born 15 February 1948.

From the Music Archives – Part III of VI: Duke Ellington

15 February 1941 – Duke Ellington records “Take the A Train.”

From the Music Archives – Part IV of VI: Mick Avory

Born 15 February 1944 – Mick Avory, an English musician best known as the drummer for the British rock band The Kinks.


From the American History Archives: Airmail

15 February 1926 – Contract airmail service begins in the United States. In the words of one historian, “The first two commercial Contract Air Mail (CAM) routes to begin operation in the United States were CAM-6 between Detroit (Dearborn) and Cleveland and CAM-7 between Detroit (Dearborn) and Chicago which were simultaneously inaugurated on February 15, 1926. The contractor for both routes was the Ford Motor Company, operating as Ford Air Transport, using a fleet of six Ford built Stout 2-AT aircraft. Lawrence G. Fritz, later the Vice President for Operations for TWA, was the pilot of the first flight to take off with mail from Ford Airport at Dearborn, on the CAM-6 eastbound leg to Cleveland.”

Above – Lawrence G. Fritz.
Below – A Ford Stout 2-AT aircraft.

American Art – Part III of V: Matt Groening

“I pledge impertinence to the flag waving, of the unindicted co-conspirators of America, and to the republicans for which I can’t stand, one abomination, underhanded fraud, indefensible, with Liberty and Justice… Forget it.” – Matt Groening, American cartoonist, screenwriter, producer, animator, author, musician, comedian, voice actor, and creator of “The Big Book of Hell” and “The Simpsons,” who was born 15 February 1954.

Some quotes from “The Simpsons”:

“Bart: I don’t want a new dog. I want Santa’s Little Helper!

Homer: Well, crying isn’t gonna bring him back, unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can either sit there crying and eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food to make your dog come back or you can go out there and find your dog… Rats, I almost had him eating dog food.”
“Homer: Books are useless! I only ever read one book, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and it gave me absolutely no insight on how to kill mockingbirds! Sure it taught me not to judge a man by the color of his skin… but what good does that do me?”
“Sideshow Bob: Your guilty consciences may make you vote Democratic, but secretly you all yearn for a Republican president to lower taxes, brutalize criminals, and rule you like a king!”
“Homer: I have three kids and no money. Why can’t I have no kids and three money?”
“Homer: Alcohol, the cause of, and the solution to, all of life’s problems.”

Greek artist Panyiotis Beldekos (born 1962) studied painting at the Athens School of Fine Arts.


From the Music Archives – Part V of VI: The Beatles

15 February 1964 – The Beatles’ “Meet the Beatles!” album reaches number one on American popular music charts and remains there for eleven weeks.

From the Music Archives – Part VI of VI: Nat King Cole

Died 15 February 1965 – Nat King Cole, an American singer and musician widely acclaimed for his baritone voice.

Italian artist Rosario Catino (born 1950) specializes in painting the human figure.

Nobel Laureate: Richard P. Feynman

“Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn’t matter. Explore the world. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do. Keep up some kind of a minimum with other things so that society doesn’t stop you from doing anything at all.” – Richard P. Feynman, American theoretical physicist, science writer, and co-recipient of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics, who died 15 February 1988.

Some quotes from the work of Richard P. Feynman:

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”
“Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.”
“You have no responsibility to live up to what other people think you ought to accomplish. I have no responsibility to be like they expect me to be. It’s their mistake, not my failing.”
“I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
“I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say, ‘Look how beautiful it is,’ and I’ll agree. Then he says, ‘I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,’ and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is, I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”
“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
“The highest forms of understanding we can achieve are laughter and human compassion.”
“I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here. I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”
“Physics isn’t the most important thing. Love is.”
“A poet once said, ‘The whole universe is in a glass of wine.’ We will probably never know in what sense he meant it, for poets do not write to be understood. But it is true that if we look at a glass of wine closely enough we see the entire universe. There are the things of physics: the twisting liquid which evaporates depending on the wind and weather, the reflection in the glass; and our imagination adds atoms. The glass is a distillation of the earth’s rocks, and in its composition we see the secrets of the universe’s age, and the evolution of stars. What strange array of chemicals are in the wine? How did they come to be? There are the ferments, the enzymes, the substrates, and the products. There in wine is found the great generalization; all life is fermentation. Nobody can discover the chemistry of wine without discovering, as did Louis Pasteur, the cause of much disease. How vivid is the claret, pressing its existence into the consciousness that watches it! If our small minds, for some convenience, divide this glass of wine, this universe, into parts — physics, biology, geology, astronomy, psychology, and so on — remember that nature does not know it! So let us put it all back together, not forgetting ultimately what it is for. Let it give us one more final pleasure; drink it and forget it all!”
“We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.”
“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts.”
“There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it’s only a hundred billion. It’s less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.”
“I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain. In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.”
“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.”
“Poets say science takes away from the beauty of the stars – mere globs of gas atoms. I too can see the stars on a desert night, and feel them. But do I see less or more? The vastness of the heavens stretches my imagination – stuck on this carousel my little eye can catch one – million – year – old light. A vast pattern – of which I am a part… What is the pattern, or the meaning, or the why? It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little about it. For far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?”
“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”
“It doesn’t seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil – which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.”

American Art – Part IV of V: John D’Antonio

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter John D’Antonio (born 1954): “John D’Antonio’s paintings reveal a remarkable eye for telling detail united to a virtuosic facility with color and light. D’Antonio’s work maintains echoes of late 19th Century American and French landscape painters, while his precision and clarity give the work a contemporary feel. Mr. D’Antonio’s subjects include the pastoral landscapes of his home in Washington’s Crossing, New Jersey, the canals and countryside of Holland, the brilliant light of Taos, New Mexico and sailing on the high seas. Whether amidst a peaceful bucolic American landscape or rounding the Horn through stormy waters, D’Antonio has a rare talent for capturing the essence of his surroundings and making us feel and experience them with startling immediacy.”

A Poem for Today

“Elegy for the Living,”
By Kathryn Simmonds

We wash up side by side
to find each other

in the speakable world,
and, lulled into sense,

inhabit our landscape;
the curve

of that chair draped
with your shirt;

my glass of  water
seeded overnight with air.

After this bed
there’ll be another,

so we’ll roll
and keep rolling

until one of  us
will roll alone and try to roll

the other back — a trick
no one’s yet pulled off — 

and it’ll be
as if   I dreamed you, dear,

as if   I dreamed this bed,
our touching limbs,

this room, the tree outside alive
with new wet light.

Not now. Not yet.

Below: Henri de Toulouse-Latrec: “In Bed: The Kiss.”


American Art – Part V of V: Bill Brauer

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter Bill Brauer: “Working with the female form, Bill Brauer’s paintings are about metamorphoses, where shapes and colors subtly fuse, creating a sensual atmosphere upon the canvas. Within these transformations is an exploration of women’s relationships, with each other, with men, and with themselves. The forms push and pull, intimating questions about women and hinting toward the tensions that can exist between beauty, image and society. Tension and metamorphoses are expressed in a dream-like vision of modulating color and shadowed figures. Brauer at times seems hypnotized by his own muse, yet is able to represent the beauty, power and mystery of the female body and mind. Often based upon mythological themes, Brauer’s scenes have an exotic and sensual magnetism. Sinuous lines, serpentine forms, sensual color and rhythms combine to create a dynamic energy.”

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