March Offerings – Part XI: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Kevin Cyr

In the words of one writer, “Kevin Cyr was born in Edmundston, NB, Canada, in 1976 and grew up in the paper mill town of Madawaska, Maine. Cyr received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and also featured in ‘New American Paintings.’”

From the Music Archives – Part I of IV: Giuseppe Verdi

11 March 1851 – Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “Rigoletto” premieres in Venice.

My favorite part of the opera:

From the Music Archives – Part II of IV: Mark Stein

Born 11 March 1945 – Mark Stein, a vocalist and organist for the American rock band Vanilla Fudge.

In the words of one writer, “Yang Feiyun was born in Baotou City, Inner Mongolia municipality in 1954. He graduated from the Oil Painting Department of China Central Academy of Fine Arts and now is working in the China Art Institute. He then became a lecturer in the Department of Design at the Central Academy of Drama. In 1984 he was appointed lecturer in the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts and is currently an Associate Professor there. Since the 1980’s, he has traveled extensively, showing his work in over twenty exhibitions world-wide.”

From the Music Archives – Part III of IV: Dmitri Shostakovich

11 March 1968 – Dmitri Shostakovich completes his 12th string quartet.

From the Music Archives – Part IV of IV: Otis Redding

11 March 1968 – Otis Redding posthumously receives a gold record for “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay.”

English painter Toby Boothman found that his life changed dramatically in 1994 when he went to study with Patrick Betaudier in Monflanquin, France. In his words, “Here at the Atelier Neo Medici, I was taught a modern version of the Renaissance technique known as the Technique Mixed. This technique, which combines detailed under painting with transparent oil glazes, dates back to the time of the 15th century Flemish master Jan van Eyck. Patrick not only taught me how to paint but also how to see things. Technique has become an extremely important factor in my painting; since discovering it, I have enjoyed painting a variety of subjects, mainly figurative but also still life”.

Below – “Torso with Gold Leaf”; “Claire in Morning Light”; “Tomatoes II”; “Raffaella with Violet Turban”; “Undone”; “Anoushka”; “Belinda Reclined I.”

“There’s nothing on it worthwhile, and we’re not going to watch it in this household, and I don’t want it in your intellectual diet.” – Philo T. Farnsworth, American inventor dubbed the “Father of Television,” who died 11 March 1971, admonishing his son.

Philo T. Farnsworth would not be pleased by a recent Nielson report, according to which Americans now spend 34 hours a week watching television.

Here’s some equally disturbing news: The authors of a 2010 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation have stated that Americans between the ages of eight and eighteen now spend almost as much time on social media as their parents do working – 7 hours, 38 minutes per day. In their words, “Even this staggering amount underestimates the media usage of young people.”

Here is one critic describing the artistry of German painter Tim Eitel (born 1971): “Tim Eitel has established himself as one of the more gifted painters, creating images which, being based in figuration, may seduce the observer with their immediate accessibility, but are characterized by an atmosphere, an absence, that adds new dimensions to contemporary painting.”

11 March 1935 – The Bank of Canada begins operations in what is certainly a very handsome structure.

Kyrgyzstani painter Alexander Lufer (born 1965) graduated from the Kyrgyzstan State Art School. He lives and works in St. Petersburg.


Nobel Laureate: Alexander Fleming

“One sometimes finds what one is not looking for.” – Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist, who died 11 March 1955. In the words of one historian, “Fleming wrote many articles on bacteriology, immunology, and chemotherapy. His best-known discoveries are the enzyme lysozyme in 1923 and the antibiotic substance penicillin from the mould Penicillium notatum in 1928, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1945 with Howard Florey and Ernst Boris Chain.”

Two quotes from Alexander Fleming:

“It is the lone worker who makes the first advance in a subject; the details may be worked out by a team, but the prime idea is due to enterprise, thought, and perception of an individual.”
“I have been trying to point out that in our lives chance may have an astonishing influence and, if I may offer advice to the young laboratory worker, it would be this – never to neglect an extraordinary appearance or happening.”

Here is one critic describing the artistry of South African painter Henk Serfontein: “Serfontein´s places of resting and waiting evoke a certain romantic nostalgia, a hopeful intimacy, a place for the traveller to rest his weary bones. Yet they undeniably also contain a more sinister dimension. They are places of wariness, heightened suspiciousness, in which the viewer could be both welcomed guest and unwanted intruder. Most importantly, you know you are alone here, it is dark and there is silence.”

From the American History Archives – Dr. Strangelove File: Mars Bluff

11 March 1953 – An American B-47 bomber accidentally dropped a Mark 6 nuclear bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina, near the residence of Walter Gregg. The bomb fell from 15,000 feet, and although it did not contain the removable core of fissionable uranium and plutonium (which was stored in a containment area on board the aircraft), it did carry 7,600 pounds of conventional explosives. When it detonated upon impact, the bomb created a crater 75 feet wide and 35 feet deep, destroyed a vegetable garden, a children’s playhouse, and a significant portion of the Gregg home, and leveled nearby trees. No one was killed, but six members of the Gregg family were injured by the blast.

Here’s a description of the incident in a radio transmission by the United States Air Force: “Aircraft 53-1876A has lost a device.” The Gregg family successfully sued the Air Force, and they were awarded $54,000 in compensation for personal injury and destruction of property. The bomb crater still exists, but is now obscured by a swamp.

Above – A Mark 6 Bomb.
Below – An aerial photograph of the scene taken shortly after the explosion; the crater today.

Here is one writer describing the artistry of Canadian painter Christopher Pratt: “(His) subjects include Newfoundland landscapes, architecture, the female form, structures, figures and emblems. His artwork is based mostly on memory. Pratt doesn’t paint from photographs and when he does his figure work he sketches. The figure work that he does is always drawn from real life.”
douglas adams inspired "Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy" H2G2

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”
– Douglas Adams, English writer, humorist, dramatist, atheist, environmentalist, and author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” and “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul,” who was born 11 March 1952.

Biologist Richard Dawkins dedicated his book “The God Delusion” to Douglas Adams, and when Adams died in May 2011, he stated that, “Science has lost a friend, literature has lost a luminary, and the mountain gorilla and the black rhino have lost a gallant defender.”

Some quotes from Douglas Adams:

“A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.”
“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”
“It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it… anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”
“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”
“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.”
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”
“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.”
“For a moment, nothing happened. Then, after a second or so, nothing continued to happen.”
“Life is wasted on the living.”
“He hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realized there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.”
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
“You live and learn. At any rate, you live.”
“The impossible often has a kind of integrity which the merely improbable lacks.”
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
“The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.”
“A learning experience is one of those things that says, ‘You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.’”
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
“Nothing travels faster than the speed of light, with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws.”
“He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.”
“Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
“It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.”
“‘You know,’ said Arthur, ‘it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.
‘Why, what did she tell you?’
‘I don’t know, I didn’t listen.’”
“I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

American Art – Part II of III: Shaune McCarthy

Artist Statement: “Working with clay as a sculpture medium continues to enthrall and delight me. The challenging process keeps me learning, and as my skill level increases so does my curiosity.
I am usually immersed in a feeling of energized focus for hours on end. Its fun building figures in space. I like the very definite rules of clay building, but it can be full of suspense, taking me to the limit of my patience, to despair and then bringing me back to sweet control and relief all in an afternoon.
Sometimes I have a clear idea in my head of what I want to build before I begin a figure sculpture. Other times I am content to simply begin with the foot placement on the board and, like a puzzle, piece it together from the bottom up.
I prefer to give the imagination free reign when working with clay. I use no inner supports to build my sculpture. It requires balance and timing to get the whole piece completed as it nears leather hard.
I use thick slabs at the bottom for stability and thinner slabs at the top. Once the piece is built, I usually slice off parts of the figure, hollow them further, and reattach them. Because of space limits in my kiln, I fire the piece in two sections. I then glaze the piece, and re-fire it multiple times, before gluing the sections together.
I use rough texture, drawings, holes and abstract markings that are reminiscent of cosmic maps. And the drama and spirit of my figures are a part of the map too. Most recently my surface treatment has taken over the whole piece and there is no figure at all.
For me the attraction and fun of working with clay is the challenge of staying alert to new directions, and not being afraid to push the limits of the material and the outer reaches of my imagination.”
Shaune McCarthy

A Poem for Today

“American Cowslip,”
By Ron Padgett

Nothing is
the way you think it is
going to be.
Take this little flower
from me, and let it go
into the way you think of it.
And so it grows
and is the face
of Daisy the cow speaking,
she my young grandma
growing and wearing
a pink slip and who fell
from the sky that was
clear blue and pure
all over the place
you called home
as it moved out
from under you
in the slow
rotation of the sphere
you call a star,
a flower, a mind.

American Art – Part III of III: Erin Cone

Artist Statement: “My paintings merge magical realism with abstract minimalism to create work that is visually bold yet contextually obscure. I paint to convey my fascination with the beauty of the human figure and my appreciation of pure design. Operating within a specific aesthetic framework, where my own intuitive use of color, line and form are paramount, I seek to capture the emotion left behind when context is removed — exploring what is hidden vs. what is revealed — both emotionally and visually.
The figures I paint function almost as design elements themselves, expressing emotions which are cryptic but subtly recognizable. This inherent ambiguity is universal yet open to individual interpretation — based on each viewer’s specific experiences, memories and emotions. In this way, I present a view of humanity in which our singularity and unity co-exist. The result is a new take on the tradition of portraiture — at once personal and anonymous, emotive and enigmatic.”

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