American Art – Part I of III: Nathaniel Skousen
American artist Nathaniel Skousen trained in portraiture while in college, and he has spent many years studying the works and techniques of master painters.
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Ella Fitzgerald
27 March 1945 – Ella Fitzgerald and the Delta Rhythm Boys record “It’s Only a Paper Moon.”
“He who wonders discovers that this in itself is a wonder.” – M. C. Escher, Dutch graphic artist known for his mathematically inspired lithographs, woodcuts, and mezzotints, who died 27 March 1972.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Ringo Starr
27 March 1970 – Ringo Starr releases his first solo album – “Sentimental Journey.”
Spanish Art – Part I of III: Ana Perpinya
In the words of one writer, “Ana Perpinya was born in Barcelona in 1965. She spent her childhood and adolescence in Sant Cugat del Vallès, a town near Barcelona where, despite being very young, she received numerous commissions from private clients and from some magazines. At the age of 15, she entered an arts school where she studied until 1986. After graduation, she took several specialized courses. When Ana was 20, she moved to the town of Molins de Rei with her husband, also a painter, and set up a painting academy and an art gallery. Later on she moved to a seaside town, where she became truly aware of her calling as a painter and where she developed her own artistic style. From that moment on, she devoted herself completely to painting and to exhibiting her works both in Spain and abroad.”
“The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled, as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life. You can turn over a new leaf every hour if you choose.” – Arnold Bennett, English novelist and author of “The Old Wives’ Tale” (1908), who died 27 March 1931.
Some quotes from the work of Arnold Bennett:
“Any change, even a change for the better is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
“A cause may be inconvenient, but it’s magnificent. It’s like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it.”
“The proper, wise balancing of one’s whole life may depend upon the
feasibility of a cup of tea at an unusual hour.”
“The real Tragedy is the tragedy of the man who never in his life braces himself for his one supreme effort-he never stretches to his full capacity, never stands up to his full stature.”
“Which of us is not saying to himself, which of us has not been saying to himself all his life: ‘I shall alter that when I have a little more time’?
We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is.”
“Nearly all bookish people are snobs, and especially the more enlightened among them. They are apt to assume that if a writer has immense circulation, if he is enjoyed by plain persons, and if he can fill several theatres at once, he cannot possibly be worth reading and merits only indifference and disdain.”
“It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top.”
“The makers of literature are those who have seen and felt the miraculous interestingness of the universe. If you have formed…literary taste…your life will be one long ecstasy of denying that the world is a dull place.”
“One of the chief things which my typical man has to learn is that the mental faculties are capable of a continuous hard activity; they do not tire like an arm or a leg. All they want is change – not rest, except in sleep.”
“Its language is a language which the soul alone understands, but which the soul can never translate. ”
“It is difficult to make a reputation, but is even more difficult seriously to mar a reputation once properly made — so faithful is the public.”
“Having once decided to achieve a certain task, achieve it at all costs of tedium and distaste. The gain in self-confidence of having accomplished a tiresome labour is immense.”
“Jane Austen? I feel that I am approaching dangerous ground. The reputation of Jane Austen is surrounded by cohorts of defenders who are ready to do murder for their sacred cause.”
“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.”
“A life in which conduct does not fairly well accord with principles is a silly life; and that conduct can only be made to accord with principles by means of daily examination, reflection, and resolution.”
“The second suggestion is to think as well as to read. I know people who read and read, and for all the good it does them they might just as well cut bread-and-butter. They take to reading as better men take to drink. They fly through the shires of literature on a motor-car, their sole object being motion. They will tell you how many books they have read in a year. Unless you give at least 45 minutes to careful, fatiguing reflection (it is an awful bore at first) upon what you are reading, your 90 minutes of a night are chiefly wasted.”
“If you imagine that you will be able to achieve your ideal by ingeniously planning out a timetable with a pen on a piece of paper, you had better give up hope at once. If you are not prepared for discouragements and disillusions; if you will not be content with a small result for a big effort, then do not begin. Lie down again and resume the uneasy doze which you call your existence.”
“Without the power to concentrate that is to say, without the power to dictate to the brain its task and to ensure obedience true life is impossible. Mind control is the first element of a full existence.”
“Happiness does not spring from the procuring of physical or mental pleasure, but from the development of reason and the adjustment of conduct to principles.”
“You wake up in the morning, and lo! your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions.”
“All wrong doing is done in the sincere belief that it is the best thing to do.”
Spanish Art – Part II of III: Josep and Pere Santilari
In the words of one writer, “Josep and Pere Santilari are two realistic painters, who besides being twins have always shared the same space as a studio. These circumstances have allowed them to develop a pictorial concept Similarly, a fact that has caused sometimes have painted works together.”
“When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’” – Quentin Tarantino, American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor, who was born 27 March 1963.
Some quotes from Quentin Tarantino:
“I don’t believe in elitism. I don’t think the audience is this dumb person lower than me. I am the audience.”
“I steal from every movie ever made.”
“I’ve always thought my soundtracks do pretty good, because they’re basically professional equivalents of a mix tape I’d make for you at home.”
“Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.”
“I loved history because to me, history was like watching a movie.”
“I was kind of excited about going to jail the first time and I learnt some great dialogue.”
“I am a genre lover – everything from spaghetti western to samurai movie.”
“Something stopped me in school a little bit. Anything that I’m not interested in, I can’t even feign interest.”
“To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.”
“I have loved movies as the number one thing in my life so long that I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t.”
“I like it when somebody tells me a story, and I actually really feel that that’s becoming like a lost art in American cinema.”
“My plan is to have a theatre in some small town or something and I’ll be manager. I’ll be the crazy old movie guy.”
Spanish Art – Part III of III: Joan Mateu Bagaria
Spanish painter Joan Mateu Bagaria lives and works in Barcelona.
27 March 1906 – The Alpine Club of Canada is founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This might not seem like an especially noteworthy event, except for the fact that Winnipeg sits on a plain at 786 feet above sea level, and the tallest natural feature in the city is “Garbage Hill,” a former landfill that has been turned into a park and renamed “Green Hill.” Canadian mountaineers must be an uncommonly intrepid lot.
Above – An aerial view of “sky high” Winnipeg.
Below – The base camp of Green Hill; Green Hill in winter, when the climbing would be especially treacherous; mountain peaks looming in the near distance, as seen from the city limits of Winnipeg.
British Art – Part I of III: Mary Armour
Born 27 March 1902 – Mary Armour, a Scottish landscape and still life painter.
“Do not trust people. They are capable of greatness.” – Stanislaw Lem, Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire and the author of the novel “Solaris,” which has been made into a film three times, who died 27 March 2006.
In the words of one literary historian, “(Lem’s) works explore philosophical themes; speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations and humanity’s place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books. Translations of his works are difficult due to passages with elaborate word formation, alien or robotic poetry, and puns.”
Some quotes from the work of Stanislaw Lem:
“Good books tell the truth, even when they’re about things that never have been and never will be. They’re truthful in a different way.”
“Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.”
“I hadn’t known there were so many idiots in the world until I started using the Internet.”
“We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all a sham. We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don’t want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is. We are searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, a civilization superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past. At the same time, there is something inside us which we don’t like to face up to, from which we try to protect ourselves, but which nevertheless remains, since we don’t leave Earth in a state of primal innocence. We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us – that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence – then we don’t like it anymore.”
“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don’t know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is.”
“When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy.”
“If a man who can’t count finds a four leaf clover, is he lucky?”
“For moral reasons … the world appears to me to be put together in such a painful way that I prefer to believe that it was not created … intentionally.”
“I had no hope. Yet expectation lived on in me, the last thing she had “The fate of a single man can be rich with significance, that of a few hundred less so, but the history of thousands and millions of men does not mean anything at all, in any adequate sense of the word.”
“For what are myths if not the imposing of order on phenomena that do not possess order in themselves? And all myths, however they differ from philosophical systems and scientific theories, share this with them, that they negate the principle of randomness in the world.”
“I see a poem as a multi-coloured strip behind peeling plaster, in separate, shining fragments.”
“The horse respects and obeys man because its large eyes magnify everything, so man appears much larger than the horse itself.”
“Is a mountain only a huge stone? Is a planet an enormous mountain?”
“So one must be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going? Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relives ancient torments, which are all the more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox…”
British Art – Part II of III: Brian Denington
In the words of one writer, “Brian Denington was born in 1944 in Glastonbury, Somerset. He studied fine art and illustration at the South East Essex School of Art from 1961 to 1966. After leaving college he worked for some time as a graphic designer in a London design studio before turning his interests towards figurative illustration and portraiture. Since moving to France he has placed less emphasis on portraiture, and concentrated almost entirely on his figure work. There is now a considerable demand for his nudes and figure studies, and he regularly shows and sells his work in London, Belfast, Dublin & Paris.”
“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.” – Adrienne Rich, American feminist, essayist, poet, and recipient of the 1974 National Book Award for Poetry (for “Diving into the Wreck”), who died 27 March 2012.
“Diving into the Wreck”
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
British Art – Part III of III: Ian Ledward
According to one writer, Scottish painter “Ian Ledward was born in 1946. He studied Three Dimensional Design at Leeds College of Art and has taught at Jacob Kramer and Edinburgh Colleges of Art.
Ian is a member of the Society of Scottish Artists. Inspiration for his art work comes from both the natural and man made environment with a distinctive emphasis on the structure, pattern and poetry of light, colour and shape.
Ian Ledward’s art work is a combination of multi-media images, line drawings, mono-prints and collage and is produced with a range of techniques including photography, printing, acrylic painting and digital creation. It is both affordable and unique art work which frequently follows and develops themes.”
“The Open Road goes to the used-car lot.” – Louis Simpson, American poet and recipient of the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (for “At the End of the Open Road”), who was born 27 March 1923.
Simpson was a member of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, and some of his harrowing experiences in combat find expression in “Carentan O Carentan” (below). Critic Edward Hirsch described “At the End of the Open Road” as “a sustained meditation on the American character,” noting, “The moral genius of this book is that it traverses the open road of American mythology and brings us back to ourselves; it sees us not as we wish to be but as we are.” (“In the Suburbs,” below, is from this prize-winning work.)
“Carentan O Carentan”
Trees in the old days used to stand
And shape a shady lane
Where lovers wandered hand in hand
Who came from Carentan.
This was the shining green canal
Where we came two by two
Walking at combat-interval.
Such trees we never knew.
The day was early June, the ground
Was soft and bright with dew.
Far away the guns did sound,
But here the sky was blue.
The sky was blue, but there a smoke
Hung still above the sea
Where the ships together spoke
To towns we could not see.
Could you have seen us through a glass
You would have said a walk
Of farmers out to turn the grass,
Each with his own hay-fork.
The watchers in their leopard suits
Waited till it was time,
And aimed between the belt and boot
And let the barrel climb.
I must lie down at once, there is
A hammer at my knee.
And call it death or cowardice,
Don’t count again on me.
Everything’s all right, Mother,
Everyone gets the same
At one time or another.
It’s all in the game.
I never strolled, nor ever shall,
Down such a leafy lane.
I never drank in a canal,
Nor ever shall again.
There is a whistling in the leaves
And it is not the wind,
The twigs are falling from the knives
That cut men to the ground.
Tell me, Master-Sergeant,
The way to turn and shoot.
But the Sergeant’s silent
That taught me how to do it.
O Captain, show us quickly
Our place upon the map.
But the Captain’s sickly
And taking a long nap.
Lieutenant, what’s my duty,
My place in the platoon?
He too’s a sleeping beauty,
Charmed by that strange tune.
Carentan O Carentan
Before we met with you
We never yet had lost a man
Or known what death could do.
“In the Suburbs”
There’s no way out.
You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life
As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Thai painter Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul (born 1961): “Graduated during the eighties, Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul was heavily influenced by the modernism movement in the West. He went through a period of Surrealism, painting words that transcends reality and escapes into the metaphysical world. As a Thai artist, his works are often heavily laced with religious themes.
However, in 1990, when he moved to Singapore, Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul dropped the metaphysical world, and embraced, ironically, hyper-realism. He began to paint Balinese and Thai dancers, of which their photographic realism deserves one’s utmost admiration. In fact every dancer is captured with sleekness and clarity and their costumes are intricately decorated to the tiniest detail possible. Unsurprisingly, ‘Gatra’ magazine (November 9, 2002) writes about how the women in his works come alive at night, but that, of course, must only be considered as a hyperbolic praise for Rearngsak Boonyavanishkul.”
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Japanese Cherry Trees
27 March 1912 – Japanese cherry trees are first planted in Washington, D.C. In the words of one historian, “The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or ‘Sakura,’ is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
Helen Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin, about 125 feet south of what is now Independence Avenue, SW.”
In the words of one writer, painter Yang Gao was “born in Inner Mongolia in 1963. He graduated from Harbin Architectural University in 1984. He was living in Guangdong and Beijing as a professional painter. He migrated to Australia in 1997.”
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: Alaska Earthquake
27 March 1964 – An earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale strikes part of Alaska. In the words of one historian, “Across south-central Alaska, ground fissures, collapsing structures, and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused about 139 deaths.”
American Art – Part II of III: Thomas Aquinas Daly
Born 27 March 1937 – Thomas Aquinas Daly, an American landscape painter.
A Poem for Today
“We’re Human Beings,”
By Jill McDonough
“That’s why we’re here,’ said Julio Lugo
to the ‘Globe.’ Sox fans booed
poor Lugo, booed his at-bat after
he dropped the ball in the pivotal fifth.
‘That ball, I got to it, I just
couldn’t come up with it.’
Lugo wants you to know
he is fast: a slower player
wouldn’t even get close
enough to get booed. Lugo
wants you to know he’s only
human: ‘We’re human beings.
That’s why we’re here. If not,
I would have wings.
I’d be beside God right now.
I’d be an angel.
But I’m not an angel.
I’m a human being that lives right here.’
Next day, all
is forgiven. Lugo’s home run, Lugo’s
sweet comment to the press.
I wanted to make a poster like the ones that say
‘It’s my birthday!’ or ‘First Time at Fenway!’ or, pathetic, ‘ESPN.’
Posterboard, permanent marker to say ‘Lugo: me, too.
I’m a human being that lives right here,’ decided
it’s too esoteric, too ephemeral a reference, but it’s true:
Oh, Lugo, Julio Lugo, I’m here with you.
American Art – Part III of III: Brandi Read
In the words of one critic, “Brandi Read was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1976. At the age of twelve, she was living with her grandparents and twin sister in Bradenton, Florida. Her grandma took her to weekly art lessons. It was at that age that she received her first painting commission. A neighbor paid her twenty dollars to paint five California Raisins, (which were very popular in 1988). She then painted the names of the neighbors family members above the individual raisin characters. She looks back at the painting now as what might be the worst family portrait ever painted by anyone.
Her experience and education in art has expanded since the California Raisin portrait and art lessons at the local art supply shop back to Kalamazoo, Michigan where she graduated magna cum laude from Western Michigan University School of Art. She has won many awards, grants, and scholarships there at the University as well as various juried exhibitions around Michigan, including a travel grant that helped enable her to go to Paris.”