American Art – Part I of III: Sanford Robinson Gifford
Sanford Robinson Gifford (1823-1880) was a landscape painter and one of the leading members of the Hudson River School.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” – From the “Farewell Address” of Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (1953 – 1961) and former five-star general in the United States Army, who died 29 March 1969.
Above – President Eisenhower delivering his Farewell Address, 17 January 1961.
Born 28 March 1483 – Raphael, an Italian painter and architect who, with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, was one of the great masters of the High Renaissance.
“The good qualities in our soul are most successfully and forcefully awakened by the power of art. Just as science is the intellect of the world, art is its soul.” – Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, more commonly known as Maxim Gorky, a Russian writer, founder of the Socialist realism literary method, political activist, and author of “The Lower Depths” and (the wonderful) “Stories of the Steppe,” who was born 28 March 1868.
Some quotes from the work of Maxim Gorky:
“When everything is easy one quickly gets stupid.”
“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.”
“Keep reading books, but remember that a book’s only a book, and you should learn to think for yourself.”
“A good man can be stupid and still be good. But a bad man must have brains.”
“When work is a pleasure, life is a joy. When work is a duty, life is slavery!”
“You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better.”
“Remembrance of the past kills all present energy and deadens all hope for the future”
“What I’d like is to meet a man I could take off my hat to and say: ‘Thank you for having got born, and the longer you live the better.’”
“Politics is something similar to the lower physiological functions, with the unpleasant difference that political functions are unavoidably carried out in public.”
“The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.” – Marc Chagall, Russian artist, who died 28 March 1985.
“I had never been as resigned to ready-made ideas as I was to ready-made clothes, perhaps because although I couldn’t sew, I could think.” – Jane Rule, Canadian gay rights advocate and author of lesbian-themed novels, including “The Desert of the Heart,” who was born 28 March 1931.
Some quotes from Jane Rule:
“Morality is a test of our conformity rather than our integrity.”
“If we don’t bear witness as citizens, as people, as individuals, the right that we have had to life is sacrificed. There is a silence, instead of a speaking presence.”
“People genuinely happy in their choices seem less often tempted to force them on other people than those who feel martyred and broken by their lives.”
“Coming out, all the way out, is offered more and more as the political solution to our oppression.”
“Every artist seems to me to have the job of bearing witness to the world we live in. To some extent I think of all of us as artists, because we have voices and we are each of us unique.”
“Love is the terrible secret people are suspected of unless they’re married, then one always suspects they don’t.”
“Morality, like language, is an invented structure for conserving and communicating order. And morality is learned, like language, by mimicking and remembering.”
“My private measure of success is daily. If this were to be the last day of my life would I be content with it? To live in a harmonious balance of commitments and pleasures is what I strive for.”
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Lithuanian painter Diana Rudokiene (born 1969): “The first thing you will notice about Diana’s works is its colors. They look as if they were alive but a little bit sleepy. The themes she chooses may look simple – everybody has seen something alike in a dream, but Diana makes them extraordinary.
When you look at the women in her paintings you may think that they are real person, but the painter says, that they are all fictional characters. It is dramatic, ironic and also sensitive – you can read it all in the look of her eyes.”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Arthur Crudup
Died 28 March 1974 – Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, an American Delta blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist.
“Humor is perhaps a sense of intellectual perspective: an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.” – Christopher Morley, American journalist, novelist, essayist, and poet, who died 28 March 1957.
Some quotes from Christopher Morley:
“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.”
“Beauty is ever to the lonely mind a shadow fleeting; she is never plain. She is a visitor who leaves behind the gift of grief, the souvenir of pain.”
“A man who has never made a woman angry is a failure in life.”
“In every man’s heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty.”
“There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning and yearning.”
“When you sell a man a book, you don’t sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue – you sell him a whole new life.”
“From now until the end of time no one else will ever see life with my eyes, and I mean to make the best of my chance.”
“Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.”
“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.”
“The enemies of the future are always the very nicest people.”
“Lots of times you have to pretend to join a parade in which you’re not really interested in order to get where you’re going.”
“The trouble with wedlock is that there’s not enough wed and too much lock.”
“We call a child’s mind ‘small’ simply by habit; perhaps it is larger than ours is, for it can take in almost anything without effort.”
“If we discovered that we only had five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them.”
“People like to imagine that because all our mechanical equipment moves so much faster, that we are thinking faster, too.”
“The misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never came.”
“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.”
“The real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking.”
“Advertising: the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” – Stephen Leacock, English-born Canadian writer, teacher, political scientist, and humorist, who died 28 March 1944.
Some quotes from Stephen Leacock:
“A half truth, like half a brick, is always more forcible as an argument than a whole one. It carries better.”
“There are two things in ordinary conversation which ordinary people dislike – information and wit.”
“Men are able to trust one another, knowing the exact degree of dishonesty they are entitled to expect.”
“Life, we learn too late, is in the living, the tissue of every day and hour.”
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
“Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.”
“Each section of the British Isles has its own way of laughing, except Wales, which doesn’t.”
“In ancient times they had no statistics so they had to fall back on lies.”
“It is to be observed that ‘angling’ is the name given to fishing by people who can’t fish.”
“It’s called political economy because it is has nothing to do with either politics or economy.”
“What we call creative work, ought not to be called work at all, because it isn’t. I imagine that Thomas Edison never did a day’s work in his last fifty years.”
American Art – Part II of III: Robin Freedenfeld
Born 28 March 1652 – Samuel Sewell, a judge, businessman, and printer in the Province of Massachusetts Bay.
A wonderful poem about Samuel Sewell:
By Anthony Hecht
Samuel Sewall, in a world of wigs,
Flouted opinion in his personal hair;
For foppery he gave not any figs,
But in his right and honor took the air.
Thus in his naked style, though well attired,
He went forth in the city, or paid court
To Madam Winthrop, whom he much admired,
Most godly, but yet liberal with the port.
And all the town admired for two full years
His excellent address, his gifts of fruit,
Her gracious ways and delicate white ears,
And held the course of nature absolute.
But yet she bade him suffer a peruke,
“That One be not distinguished from the All”;
Delivered of herself this stern rebuke
Framed in the resonant language of St. Paul.
“Madam,” he answered her, “I have a Friend
Furnishes me with hair out of His strength,
And He requires only I attend
Unto His charity and to its length.”
And all the town was witness to his trust:
On Monday he walked out with the Widow Gibbs,
A pious lady of charm and notable bust,
Whose heart beat tolerably beneath her ribs.
On Saturday he wrote proposing marriage,
And closed, imploring that she be not cruel,
“Your favorable answer will oblige,
Madam, your humble servant, Samuel Sewall.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Tete Montoliu
Born 28 March 1933 – Tete Montoliu, a Catalonian jazz pianist.
“You cannot fashion a wit out of two half-wits.” – Neil Kinnock, English politician, who was born 28 March 1942.
Nobel Laureate: Mario Vargas Llosa
“If you are killed because you are a writer, that’s the maximum expression of respect, you know.” – Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian-Spanish writer, politician, journalist, author of “The War of the End of the World” and “Death in the Andes,” and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat,” who was born 28 March 1936.
Some quotes from Mario Vargas Llosa:
“Since it is impossible to know what’s really happening, we Peruvians lie, invent, dream and take refuge in illusion. Because of these strange circumstances, Peruvian life, a life in which so few actually do read, has become literary.”
“Prosperity or egalitarianism – you have to choose. I favor freedom – you never achieve real equality anyway: you simply sacrifice prosperity for an illusion.”
“It isn’t true that convicts live like animals: animals have more room to move around.”
“No matter how ephemeral it is, a novel is something, while despair is nothing.”
Iranian Art – Part I of II: Mohammad Tabatabaei
“I am the penny whistle of American literature.” – Nelson Algren, American writer and recipient of the 1950 National Book Award (for “The Man with the Golden Arm”), who was born 28 March 1909.
Some quotes from the work of Nelson Algren:
“Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.”
“Chicago divided your heart. Leaving you loving the joint for keeps. Yet knowing it never can love you.”
“Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
“Chicago is an October sort of city even in spring.”
“The great trains howling from track to track all night. The taut and telegraphic murmur of ten thousand city wires, drawn most cruelly against a city sky. The rush of city waters, beneath the city streets. The passionate passing of the night’s last El.”
“(It was) a city that was to live by night after the wilderness had passed. A city that was to forge out of steel and blood-red neon its own peculiar wilderness.”
“It’s the place built out of Man’s ceaseless failure to overcome himself. Out of Man’s endless war against himself we build our successes as well as our failures. Making it the city of all cities most like Man himself— loneliest creation of all this very old poor earth.”
“Big-shot town, small-shot town, jet-propelled old-fashioned town, by old-world hands with new-world tools built into a place whose heartbeat carries farther than its shout, whose whispering in the night sounds less hollow than its roistering noontime laugh: they have builded a heavy-shouldered laughter here who went to work too young.”
“And money can’t buy everything. For example: poverty.”
“Our myths are so many, our vision so dim, our self-deception so deep and our smugness so gross that scarcely any way now remains of reporting the American Century except from behind the billboards.”
“So he bought tickets to the Greyhound and they climbed, painfully, inch by inch and with the knowledge that, once they reached the top, there would be one breath-taking moment when the car would tip precariously into space, over an incline six stories steep and then plunge, like a plunging plane. She buried her head against him, fearing to look at the park spread below. He forced himself to look: thousands of little people and hundreds of bright little stands, and over it all the coal-smoke pall of the river factories and railroad yards. He saw in that moment the whole dim-lit city on the last night of summer; the troubled streets that led to the abandoned beaches, the for-rent signs above overnight hotels and furnished basement rooms, moving trolleys and rising bridges: the cagework city, beneath a coalsmoke sky.”
Iranian Art – Part II of II: Raoof Haghighi
Here is how one writer describes the artistry of Iranian painter Raoof Haghighi (born 1976): “Raoof’s paintings are built on his strong cultural traditions as well as his interest in the changing world of today. In his work he often uses contemporary ideas combines with strong traditional technique.
Raoof Haghighi now lives and works in England.
A Poem for Today
“Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.” – Adrienne Rich
“At Willard Brook,”
By Adrienne Rich
Spirit like water
moulded by unseen stone
and sandbar, pleats and funnels
according to its own
submerged necessity —
to the indolent eye
pure wilfulness, to the stray
in that cascade-bent pool
a random fury: Law,
if that’s what’s wanted, lies
asking to be read
in the dried brook-bed.
American Art – Part III of III: Charles Marion Russell
In addition to being a prolific painter, Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) crafted bronze sculptures that depict activities associated with the American Old West.