American Art – Part I of II: William Bailey
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of American painter William Bailey, who is Professor of Art Emeritus at Yale University: “Bailey is best known for his paintings of singular vessels arranged on table tops or ledges below large expanses of muted toned walls. The cups, bowls, jugs and egg cups, which may indeed exist, are painted from memory, described with a poignancy that sets the paintings outside of time and place. The monochrome expanses of the walls, which signify a minimalist eye and brush, further remove the works from any suggestion of a real setting. This is similarly true of Bailey’s paintings of female figures. The women are not artist’s models but are painted entirely from imagination. They are posed sitting or standing in strange interiors looking out at the viewer. They are often nude and set almost weightlessly in their imaginary rooms. All these works, for Bailey, are abstract. They do not pretend to be realistically described. The shadows may be a little off, the corners of the walls not quite right. The figures beg just about every question one can think of.”
“Under a blazing mid-afternoon summer sky, we see the Seine flooded with sunshine . . . people are strolling, others are sitting or stretched out lazily on the bluish grass.” – Georges Seurat, French Post-Impressionist painter and draftsman who devised the technique known as pointillism, who died 29 March 1891.
Below – “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”; “Gray Weather, Grande Jatte”; “Circus Sideshow”; “View of Fort Samson”; “The Models”; “Bathers at Asnieres.”
“The fate of love is that it always seems too little or too much.” – Amelia Barr, Anglo-American novelist, who was born 29 March 1831.
Some quotes from the work of Amelia Barr:
“All changes are more or less tinged with melancholy, for what we are leaving behind is part of ourselves.”
“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.”
“Kindness is always fashionable.”
“Old age is the verdict of life.”
“That is the great mistake about the affections. It is not the rise and fall of empires, the birth and death of kings, or the marching of armies that move them most. When they answer from their depths, it is to the domestic joys and tragedies of life.”
In the words of one critic, the figures depicted on the canvases of Swiss painter Raffaello Ossola (born 1954) should be regarded as “ Memories, distant recollections both past and future entwined in dreams, visions and journeys,” while Ossola prefers to call them “Timeless Images.”
From the Music Archives: Pearl Bailey
“Never, never rest contented with any circle of ideas, but always be certain that a wider one is still possible.” – Pearl Bailey, American singer and actress, who was born 29 March 1918.
Born 20 March 1913 – R. S. Thomas, a Welsh poet and Anglican priest noted for his nationalism and spirituality.
“The Cat and the Sea”
“At least one way of measuring the freedom of any society is the amount of comedy that is permitted, and clearly a healthy society permits more satirical comment than a repressive, so that if comedy is to function in some way as a safety release then it must obviously deal with these taboo areas. This is part of the responsibility we accord our licensed jesters, that nothing be excused the searching light of comedy. If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted.” – Eric Idle, English comedian, actor, author, singer, and member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, who was born 29 March 1943.
From the American History Archives: The Cumberland Road
29 March 1806 – President Jefferson authorizes the construction of the Cumberland Road, which would later become part of the National Road (Great National Pike).
In the words of one historian, “The Cumberland Road would replace the Braddock Road for travel between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers, following roughly the same alignment until just east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania. From there, where the Braddock Road turned north to Pittsburgh, the Cumberland Road would continue west to Wheeling, West Virginia (then part of Virginia), also on the Ohio River.”
Above – A map of the National Road.
Below – The Petersburg Tollhouse, on the National Road in Addison, Pennsylvania.
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Canadian painter John Hansen (born 1957): “For Hansen, sound craftsmanship applied in a proper theoretically grounded method is crucial as the effective means to express his reflections of life. Initially working from the imagination he creates the composition in his mind. Hansen then gathers reference materials by using a camera to record the image of the figure, and by documenting measurements along with small detail sketches. Hansen then sets to work in his preferred medium of oil.”
“Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.” – From the last entry in the diary of Englishman Robert Falcon Scott, Royal Navy officer, explorer, and leader of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition in Antarctica, who died 29 March 1912.
Above – Robert Falcon Scott.
Below – Scott’s group took this photograph of themselves using a string to operate the shutter on 17 January 1912, the day after they discovered Amundsen had reached the pole first.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Iranian painter Javad Azarmehr (born 1948): ”Javad Azarmehr is like a story book to me. In front of the easel, in his studio, he paints everyday. There is something of a story even in the painting. With their clear and pure pastels, they are tranquil and tender. The paintings are created with patience, amazing skill and precision. The color compositions are often very simple, making the paintings straight forward and within reach. My personal favorites are the ones with the houses; they have such a peculiar tranquility. I wish I could be in Javad’s paintings; it must be a wonderful world, calm, tranquil and thoughtful.”
“Look underfoot. You are always nearer to the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Don’t despise your own place and hour. Every place is the center of the world.” – John Burroughs, American naturalist, essayist, conservationist, and author of “Wake-Robin” and “The Art of Seeing Things,” who died 29 March 1921.
Some quotes from the work of John Burroughs:
“The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are.”
“One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this: ‘To rise above little things.’”
“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”
“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ”
“If we take science as our sole guide, if we accept and hold fast that alone which is verifiable, the old theology must go.”
“Science has done more for the development of western civilization in one hundred years than Christianity did in eighteen hundred years.”
“To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, to imagine your facts is another.”
“If I were to name the three most precious resources of life, I should say books, friends, and nature.”
“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
“Leap and the net will appear”
“A somebody was once a nobody who wanted to and did.”
“Communing with God is communing with our own hearts, our own best selves, not with something foreign and accidental. Saints and devotees have gone into the wilderness to find God; of course they took God with them, and the silence and detachment enabled them to hear the still, small voice of their own souls, as one hears the ticking of his own watch in the stillness of the night.”
“The longer I live the more my mind dwells upon the beauty and wonder of the world… I have loved the feel of the grass under my feet, and the sound of the running streams by my side. The hum of the wind in the treetops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men. I am in love with this world…I have tilled its soil, I have gathered its harvest, I have waited upon its seasons, and always have I reaped what I have sown. I have climbed its mountains, roamed its forests, sailed its waters, crossed its deserts, felt the sting of its frosts, the oppression of its heats, the drench of its rains, the fury of its winds, and always have beauty and joy waited upon my goings and comings.”
“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”
“I go to books and to nature as the bee goes to a flower, for a nectar that I can make into my own honey.”
“The kingdom of heaven in not a place but a state of mind.”
“The secret of happiness is something to do”
“You can get discouraged many times, but you are not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else and stop trying.”
“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.”
“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.”
Above – John Burroughs.
Below – A 2005 photograph of Slabsides, Burroughs’ cabin in West Park, NY, that was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1968; “Wake-Robin”; “The Art of Seeing Things” – a collection of some of Burroughs’ finest essays.
A Poem for Today
“Walt Whitman at Bear Mountain,”
By Louis Simpson
. . . life which does not give the preference to any other life, of any
previous period, which therefore prefers its own existence . . . Ortega y Gasset
Neither on horseback nor seated,
But like himself, squarely on two feet,
The poet of death and lilacs
Loafs by the footpath. Even the bronze looks alive
Where it is folded like cloth. And he seems friendly.
“Where is the Mississippi panorama
And the girl who played the piano?
Where are you, Walt?
The Open Road goes to the used-car lot.
“Where is the nation you promised?
These houses build of wood sustain
And the light above the street is sick to death.
“As for the people—see how they neglect you!
Only a poet pauses to read the inscription.”
“I am here,” he answered.
“It seems you have found me out.
Yet did I not warn you that it was Myself
I advertised? Were my words not sufficiently plain?
I gave no prescriptions,
And those who have taken my moods for prophecies
Mistake the matter.”
Then, vastly amused—“Why do you reproach me?
I freely confess I am wholly disreputable.
Yet I am happy, because you found me out.”
A crocodile in wrinkled metal loafing . . .
Then all the realtors,
Pickpockets, salesmen and the actors performing
Turned a deaf ear, for they had contracted
But the man who keeps a store on a lonely road,
And the housewife who knows she’s dumb,
And the earth, are relieved.
All that grave weight of America
Cancelled! Like Greece and Rome.
The future in ruins!
The castles, the prisons, the cathedrals
Unbuilding, and roses
Blossoming from the stones that are not there . . .
The clouds are lifting from the high Sierras,
The Bay mists clearing,
And the angel in the gate, the flowering plum,
Dances like Italy, imagining red.
American Art – Part II of II: Vincent Giarrano
After obtaining a Masters in Fine Art from Syracuse University in 1985, artist Vincent Giarrano (born 1960) chose to pursue a career in illustration, working for the publishers of both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. In the words of one art critic, “About ten years ago, Vincent transitioned back to fine art and found that this was what he really wanted to do. He loves painting subjects that relate to real life experiences, wanting his paintings to reflect true moments of life. Capturing the quality of light in a scene is also an important element for him, especially the way in which it can enhance the mood he is portraying in the painting.”