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

American Art – Part I of III: Thomas Caleb Goggans

In the words of one critic, painter Thomas Caleb Goggans “focuses on the figure, portrait, and landscape” in his work.

“To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships.” – W.E.B. du Bois, American sociologist, historian, writer, editor, co-founder of the NAACP, and author of “The Souls of Black Folk,” who was born 23 February 1868.

Some quotes from the work of W.E.B. du Bois:

“The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.”
“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”
“There is but one coward on earth, and that is the coward that dare not know.”
“The world still wants to ask that a woman primarily be pretty and if she is not, the mob pouts and asks querulously, ‘What else are women for?’”
“The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.”
“I believe that all men, black, brown, and white, are brothers.”
“What do nations care about the cost of war, if by spending a few hundred millions in steel and gunpowder they can gain a thousand millions in diamonds and cocoa?”
“The function of the university is not simply to teach breadwinning, or to furnish teachers for the public schools, or to be a centre of polite society; it is, above all, to be the organ of that fine adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life, an adjustment from which forms the secret of civilization.”
“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”
“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched,- criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, – this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society.”
“Perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of current America is the attempt to reduce life to buying and selling. Life is not love unless love is sex and bought and sold. Life is not knowledge save knowledge of technique, of science for destruction. Life is not beauty except beauty for sale. Life is not art unless its price is high and it is sold for profit. All life is production for profit, and for what is profit but for buying and selling again?”


“Few have been taught to any purpose who have not been their own teachers.” – Sir Joshua Reynolds, influential English painter specializing in portraits and one of the founders of the Royal Academy, who died 23 February 1792.

Below (left to right) – “Edward Cornwallis”; “Elizabeth, Lady Amherst”; “Admiral Hood”; “Lady Caroline Howard”; “Self-Portrait.”


“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West, American writer and author of “The Friendly Persuasion,” who died 23 February 1984.

Some quotes from the work of Jessamyn West:

“A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor, for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself. ”
“It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.”
“I have done more harm by the falseness of trying to please than by the honesty of trying to hurt.”
“A rattlesnake that doesn’t bite teaches you nothing.”
“Knowledge of what you love somehow comes to you; you don’t have to read nor analyze nor study. If you love a thing enough, knowledge of it seeps into you, with particulars more real than any chart can furnish.”
“People who keep journals have life twice.”
“If you want a baby, have a new one. Don’t baby the old one.”
“Groan and forget it.”
“Nothing ruins a face so fast as double-dealing. Your face telling one story to the world. Your heart yanking your face to pieces, trying to let the truth be known.”


Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Iranian painter Bahareh Raeesi (born 1976): “The vibrant colors in the paintings of Bahareh Raeesi add resonant meaning to the everyday existence of little things.”

Born 23 February 1920 – David Wright, a South African-born poet.

“A Santa Fe Storm”

Evening, and I watch the sky 

from the portal of an old adobe

on Agua Fria Street.

The clouds roll from 

the Jemez to drench the city

with what the Navajos call male rain.

Evening blends to night 

and the storm stays, 

but softer now

as rain turns white. 

Lightning, thunder, and the softness, softness

of new snow make strange skyfellows. 

As I admire the backlighting

I rejoice in my good fortune.

Above – “David Wright,” by Patrick Swift, circa 1960

“If any of you cry at my funeral, I’ll never speak to you again!” – Stan Laurel, English comic actor, writer, and film director, best known as a member of the Laurel and Hardy comedy team, who died 23 February 11965.

“Big Business” is one of Laurel and Hardy’s great silent features.


Armenian painter Artavazd Talalyan graduated from Yerevan State Fine Arts University in 1984.

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” – James Alfred White, known by the pen name James Herriot, British veterinary surgeon, writer, and author of “All Creatures Great and Small,” who died 23 February 1995.

James Herriot was an uncommonly wise and good man.

Here is how one writer describes the work of Indian painter Bratin Khan: “The influence of the Bengal school is evident in Bratin Khan’s masterful handling of colour and the line. His paintings seem to have the proverbial halo surrounding them. His subjects are relaxed and flow seamlessly within the greater picture of the beautiful world that they dwell in. The artist always draws his figures from the ocean of stories that is Indian mythology, religion and folk lore. His focus on detail and remarkable skill over the line make his style unique.”

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?” – John Keats, English Romantic poet, who died 23 February 1821.

“Ode on a Grecian Urn”

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

American Art – Part II of III: Buck McCain

Painter Buck McCain discovered his love of art while taking a humanities class when he was a pre-med student in college. He lives and works in southern Arizona.


From the American History Archives: The Alamo

23 February 1836 – The Texas Revolution: The Battle of the Alamo begins in San Antonio, Texas.

Below – The Alamo, as drawn in 1854.

Belarusian painter Sergey Sotnikov (born 1969) graduated from Vitebsk State University in 1994 with a degree in Art and Graphics.


A Poem for Today

By Averill Curdy

The cheap dropped ceiling
jumped like a pot-lid boiling
when our upstairs neighbor
chased his girl that winter.
Falling out of

summer’s skimpy tops
she’d want our phone. Her plush lips
creased. Not exactly blonde,
but luteous, we thought,
pleased the right word

was there for that shade
of slightly slutty mermaid.
Wincing, we’d hear him punch
along the floor on crutch-
es, a giant

bat trying to mince
a mayfly. Sex and Violence
you called them; Blondie with
Dagwood on crystal meth,
I’d tell our friends

over dinners stewed
in noise. Even his truck cowed.
Black, smoked glass, outsized wheels
flaunted like chrome knuckles
we shrank from, ducked,

afraid we’d find her
later, knocking at our door.
Some nights we waited through
like captured prey. To you
I’d turn in bed,

saying the furtive
words against your back, I love
… You’d stroke my hair, or hip,
all our years the same flip
crack, I do, too.

Below – Raphael Perez: “Couple on Bed.”

American Art – Part III of III: Martha Mayer Erlebacher

Artist Statement: “I try to make art, which reaffirms to the viewer that there is a value in human life. It should give the sense that one is not alone, and that one is part of a group with similar needs, longings, hopes, dreams, fears and desires which transcend time (the subjects of art).”

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