American Art – Part I of III: Charles Warren Mundy
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Ella Fitzgerald
2 May 1938 – American vocalist Ella Fitzgerald records “A-Tisket, A-Tasket.”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part I of IX: Louis Bromfield
2 May 1927 – Louis Bromfield wins the Pulitzer Prize for best novel for “Early Autumn.”
“He had a feeling that somewhere in the course of her life something had happened to her, something terrible which in the end had given her a great understanding and clarity of mind. He knew, too, almost at once, on the day she had driven up to the door of the cottage, that she had made a discovery about life which he himself had made long since . . . that there is nothing of such force as the power of a person content merely to be himself, nothing so invincible as the power of simple honesty, nothing so successful as the life of one who runs alone. Somewhere she had learned all this. She was like a woman to whom nothing could ever again happen.” – From “Early Autumn”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part II of IX: Pearl S. Buck
2 May 1932 – Pearl S. Buck wins the Pulitzer Prize for “The Good Earth.”
“Wang Lung sat smoking, thinking of the silver as it had lain upon the table. It had come out of the earth, this silver, out of the earth that he ploughed and turned and spent himself upon. He took his life from the earth; drop by drop by his sweat he wrung food from it and from the food, silver. Each time before this that he had taken the silver out to give to anyone, it had been like taking a piece of his life and giving it to someone carelessly. But not for the first time, such giving was not pain. He saw, not the silver in the alien hand of a merchant in the town; he saw the silver transmuted into something worth even more than life itself – clothes upon the body of his son.” – From “The Good Earth”
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Sonny James
Born 1 May 1929 – Sonny James, an American country music singer and songwriter.
The Pulitzer Prize – Part III of IX: Thornton Wilder
2 May 1938 – Thornton Wilder wins the Pulitzer Prize for “Our Town.”
“We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.” – From “Our Town”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part IV of IX: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
1 May 1939 – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wins the Pulitzer Prize for “The Yearling.”
“He lay down on his pallet and drew the fawn down beside him. He often lay so with it in the shed, or under the live oaks in the heat of the day. He lay with his head against its side. its ribs lifted and fell with its breathing. It rested its chin on his hand. It had a few short hairs there that prickled him. He had been cudgeling his wits for an excuse to bring the fawn inside at night to sleep with him, and now he had one that could not be disputed. He would smuggle it in and out as long as possible, in the name of peace.” – From “The Yearling”
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Goldy McJohn
Born 2 May 1945 – Goldy McJohn, a Canadian keyboard player best known for being a member of the rock group Steppenwolf.
Italian Art – Part I of II: Leonardo da Vinci
“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance polymath, who died 2 May 1519.
Some quotes from the “Notebooks” of Leonardo da Vinci:
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.”
“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.”
“While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.”
“Time stays long enough for those who use it.”
“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”
“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.”
“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”
“All sciences are vain and full of errors that are not born of Experience, the mother of all Knowledge.”
“He who thinks little errs much.”
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
“Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!”
“Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
“A poet knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
“The average human looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragrance, and talks without thinking.”
“He who possesses most must be most afraid of loss.”
“Once you have tasted the taste of sky, you will forever look up.”
“In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”
Italian Art – Part II of II: Elisa Anfuso
The Pulitzer Prize – Part V of IX: Gwendolyn Brooks
1 May 1950 – Gwendolyn Brooks wins the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “Annie Allen.”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part VI of IX: Harper Lee
1 May 1960 – Harper Lee wins the Pulitzer Prize for “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe- some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others- some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men.
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.” – From “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Russian Art – Part I of IV: Kuzma Petrov Vodkin
Russian Art – Part II of IV: Savely Sorin
The Pulitzer Prize – Part VII of IX: Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
2 May 1966 – Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wins the Pulitzer Prize for Biography for “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.”
The Pulitzer Prize – Part VIII of IX: Bernard Malamud
1 May 1967 – Bernard Malamud wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Fixer.”
“I am somewhat of a meliorist. That is to say, I act as an optimist because I find I cannot act at all, as a pessimist. One often feels helpless in the face of the confusion of these times, such a mass of apparently uncontrollable events and experiences to live through, attempt to understand, and if at all possible, give order to; but one must not withdraw from the task if he has some small things to offer – he does so at the risk of diminishing his humanity.” – From “The Fixer”
Russian Art – Part III of IV: Ekaterina More
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Ekaterina More (born 1976): “Ekaterina Moré’s paintings are not illustrations or portraits in the conventional sense but much rather symbolic images which evolved from deep emotions. With her impressive depictions, the artist shows her great respect for the feminine force. It was not by chance that deities in the dim and distant past were feminine. And in our times as well, the woman embodies many characteristics which the artist harmonizes in her works in an ideal manner.”
Russian Art – Part IV of IV: Azam Atakhanov
The Pulitzer Prize – Part IX of IX: Wallace Stegner
1 May 1972 – Wallace Stegner wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Angle of Repose.”
“I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can’t go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely. We have had too many divorces, we have consumed too much transportation, we have lived too shallowly in too many places.” – From “Angle of Repose”
Spanish Art – Part I of II: Ivan Franco Fraga
Spanish Art – Part II of II: Alberto Mielgo
“McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled.” – Joseph McCarthy, U.S. Senator, hunter of communists, and demagogue, who died on 2 May 1957.
Given the divisive and polarized character of contemporary American politics, if Joseph McCarthy were alive today, he would likely be both a candidate for the Presidency and a host on FOX News.
Some quotes about Joseph McCarthy:
“When the wind is right, a faint odor of kerosene is exhaled from Senator McCarthy.” – Ray Bradbury, author of “Farenheit 451”
“I will not get in the gutter with that guy.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The junior senator from Wisconsin, by his reckless charges, has so preyed upon the fears and hatreds and prejudices of the American people that he has started a prairie fire which neither he nor anyone else may be able to control.” – Senator J. William Fulbright
“This is the first time in my experience, and I was ten years in the Senate, that I ever heard of a Senator trying to discredit his own Government before the world.… Your telegram is not only not true and an insolent approach to a situation that should have been worked out between man and man but it shows conclusively that you are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States.” – Harry S. Truman
In the words of one critic, artist Aung Kyaw Htet “paints the faces of monks and nuns in great detail to show their humanity. This is in contradiction to most Burmese artists who usually omit facial details to focus on monks as symbols of religion rather than as human individuals. Aung Kyaw Htet’s use of bright colours is attractive and draws the viewer’s attention to the serenity in the paintings.”
“Genius and virtue are to be more often found clothed in gray than in peacock bright.” – Van Wyck Brooks, American literary critic, biographer, and historian, who died 2 May 1963.
One of life’s great pleasures is to read books crafted by astute literary critics. Van Wyck Brooks is the author of many richly informative and stylishly written works, and I especially recommend his treatments of Twain (“The Ordeal of Mark Twain”), Melville and Whitman (“The Times of Melville and Whitman”), and Emerson (“The Life of Emerson”), as well as his luminously intelligent “The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865,” which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1937.
Some quotes from Van Wyck Brooks:
“Magnanimous people have no vanity, they have no jealousy, and they feed on the true and the solid wherever they find it. And, what is more, they find it everywhere.”
“If men were basically evil, who would bother to improve the world instead of giving it up as a bad job at the outset?”
“It is not that the French are not profound, but they all express themselves so well that we are led to take their geese for swans.”
“No one is fit to judge a book until he has rounded Cape Horn in a sailing vessel, until he has bumped into two or three icebergs, until he has been lost in the sands of the desert, until he has spent a few years in the House of the Dead.”
“The American mind, unlike the English, is not formed by books, but, as Carl Sandburg once said to me… by newspapers and the Bible.”
“The creative impulses of man are always at war with the possessive impulses.”
“The man who has the courage of his platitudes is always a successful man.”
“There is no stopping the world’s tendency to throw off imposed restraints, the religious authority that is based on the ignorance of the many, the political authority that is based on the knowledge of the few.”
Here is one critic describing the background of Hiroshi Sato: “Hiroshi Sato was born September 1987 in Japan. From the age of three to fourteen he spent his childhood in Tanzania. After school, he found his way to Rome where classical sculpture inspired his pursuit of a career in fine art. He enrolled in the fine-arts program at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco.
Hiroshi Sato is focused on contemporary realist oil painting. He draws influence from past and present artists including Vermeer and Andrew Wyeth. Sato’s work shows his interest in geometric design principles of the old masters and is currently exploring the simultaneous illusion of form and flatness in space. His goal is to portray, and better understand our various states of consciousness within ourselves.”
“People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.” – Jerome K. Jerome, an English writer, humorist, and author of the comic travelogue “Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog…),” who was born 2 May 1859.
Here’s what one critic has to say about “Three Men in a Boat”: “The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel. One of the most praised things about ‘Three Men in a Boat’ is how undated it appears to modern readers — the jokes seem fresh and witty even today. (The three men are based on Jerome himself [the narrator J.] and two real-life friends, George Wingrave [who would become a senior manager in Barclays Bank] and Carl Hentschel [the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book], with whom he often took boating trips.)”
Some quotes from Jerome K. Jerome:
“It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.”
“Love is like the measles; we all have to go through it.”
“But there, everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.”
“I can see the humorous side of things and enjoy the fun when it comes; but look where I will, there seems to me always more sadness than joy in life.”
“It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of
work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.”
“What I am looking for is a blessing not in disguise.”
“We are so bound together that no man can labor for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe.”
“The weather is like the government, always in the wrong.”
“I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”
“It is so pleasant to come across people more stupid than ourselves. We love them at once for being so.”
“Once we discover how to appreciate the timeless values in our daily experiences, we can enjoy the best things in life.”
“Life is a thing to be lived, not spent; to be faced, not ordered. Life is not a game of chess, the victory to the most knowing; it is a game of cards, one’s hand by skill to be made the best of.”
“I often arrive at quite sensible ideas and judgments, on the spur of the moment. It is when I stop to think that I become foolish.”
“It is in our faults and failings, not in our virtues, that we touch each other, and find sympathy. It is in our follies that we are one.”
“We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.”
“But there, everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.”
“They [dogs] never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation. ”
“If you are foolish enough to be contented, don’t show it, but grumble with the rest.”
“It is a most extraordinary thing, but I never read a patent medicine advertisement without being impelled to the conclusion that I am suffering from the particular disease therein dealt with in its most virulent form.”
“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”
The American Old West – Part I of II: Calamity Jane
Born 1 May 1852 – “Calamity Jane” (Martha Jane Canary), an American frontierswoman and scout who was an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok. Her dying request was “Bury me beside Wild Bill,” and she is buried next to Wild Bill Hickok in Mount Moriah Cemetery, Deadwood, South Dakota.
Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian ceramic artist Jess Riva Cooper: “In my art practice, I integrate colour, drawing and clay to create installation-based artwork. I study the foundation myths of the Golem and Dybbuk spirits in Yiddish folklore and reinterpret these traditional stories through a female lens. I also investigate fallen economic and environmental climates in regions such as Detroit, Michigan, where houses have become feral, disappearing behind ivy, trees and Kudzu vines that were planted generations ago. In my sculptures, the world sprouts plant matter. Colour and form burst forth from quiet gardens and bring chaos to ordered spaces. Nature reclaims its place by creeping over structures. Wild floral growth subverts past states, creating the preternatural from this transformation.”
The American Old West – Part II of II: John Barclay Armstrong
Died 1 May 1913 – John Barclay Armstrong, a Texas Ranger and U.S. Marshall remembered for his role in the pursuit and capture of gunfighter and outlaw John Wesley Hardin.
British Art – Part I of II: Martha Parsey
Artist Statement: “My paintings are large and figurative, often diptychs or a number of canvasses, made without preliminary sketches or any other devices- just using my eyes and a pencil, drawing straight onto the bare canvas. Working on bare canvas means that whatever I paint remains. This gives the process of painting an element of risk, a kind of performance in the making of it. Although areas of my paintings are rendered in great detail I allow unpainted areas to give the viewer room to form a discourse with the image, granting them access to the inner world of the picture, whereby the pictures take on a life in the eyes and mind of the viewer.”
British Art – Part II of II: Rachel Deacon
Here is one critic describing the artistry of English painter Rachel Deacon: “Rachel begins her work with a carefully selected narrative, a short story, poem or extract from which she gains inspiration. Her work is not illustrative of that text, but draws on the sentiment or ideas. She explores dimensions, pattern and composition through drawings before creating the final image.
Focusing mainly on the female figure, shapes and contours of the body are used to create a strong physical and spatial arrangement, and layers of rich colors bring about shadow and an ambience of light.
Her ‘women’ are self assured and provocative and often convey an inner strength suggested within the text. Naturally, through her inspiration, her paintings have a sense of narrative within them and are thoughtful or seductive.
Through her yearly solo shows she has built up an extensive number of loyal clients. She also works to commission, working for large companies and private clients alike. She currently lives and works in London where the majority of her exhibitions are held.”
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.” – From “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories,” by American writer Norman Maclean, which was published in May 1976.
In the words of one critic, “During 1977, the Pulitzer Prize committee for fiction (aka ‘fiction jury’) recommended ‘A River Runs Through It’ be awarded the prize for that year. The Pulitzer Prize Board, which has final say for awarding the prize, chose to override their recommendation and decided not to award for fiction that year.”
Some quotes from “A River Runs Through It”:
“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy.”
“One of life’s quiet excitements is to stand somewhat apart from yourself and watch yourself softly becoming the author of something beautiful even if it is only a floating ash.”
“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.”
“When I was young, a teacher had forbidden me to say ‘more perfect’ because she said if a thing is perfect it can’t be more so. But by now I had seen enough of life to have regained my confidence in it.”
“Ahead and to the west was our ranger station – and the mountains of Idaho, poems of geology stretching beyond any boundaries and seemingly even beyond the world.”
“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect”
“When I looked, I knew I might never again see so much of the earth so beautiful, the beautiful being something you know added to something you see, in a whole that is different from the sum of its parts. What I saw might have been just another winter scene, although an impressive one. But what I knew was that the earth underneath was alive and that by tomorrow, certainly by the day after, it would be all green again. So what I saw because of what I knew was a kind of death with the marvellous promise of less than a three-day resurrection.”
“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.”
American Art – Part II of III: Elissa Farrow-Savos
Artist Statement: “Every piece I make is about storytelling, each a narrative of some woman somewhere, and every woman everywhere. My head is full of the reasons and meanings behind each piece – usually a convoluted combination of a very specific experience with a myriad of emotions and thoughts and opinions that could be many, many words, but instead is this one piece, or maybe two.
There are common themes, such as physical, emotional, and spiritual burdens, connections lost and found, love and anger, dignity and strength. Meanwhile, they keep company with rusty chains, weathered wood, decaying bones, abandoned objects, and scraps of fabric – the debris of life, lived. My women are the same, they show their scars and wear them proudly because after all, they make a good story, if nothing else.”
A Poem for Today
By Lorna Dee Cervantes
There was always fabric in your lap
and a whistle in your heart. A sweet
sap to be sucked waited in the garden.
Nymphs of newts nestled under rock,
your role as ‘She Who Brings the Waters’
intact. Between the trilling of the crickets
educating into the night and the sad sack
of cans in the mornings something grew,
flourished in the dark — vines as sturdy
as telephone wire writhed in the breezes.
You patched together a blanket of us,
sewed together the mismatched and lopped
off edges. And anger grew a twin, ripped
through the bermuda grass, something stubborn
and determined: Me, in a leather patchwork skirt,
the bitter lemon song returning to its beginning
over and over on the Howdie Doody phonograph,
a handful of bandages, a faceful of ghosts
delivered from the mirrors. How did you stand it?
All of it. Us crunching through your set life,
kids scuffling through the mounds of leave.
Always making do. Your sunshine eyes,
those stenciled memories where
we still live.
American Art – Part III of III: Miles Mathis
Here is one critic describing the artistry of American painter Miles Mathis: “Miles Mathis is an anachronism, a romantic artist who feels he doesn’t quite fit into the modern age. He describes his work as unabashedly unmodern and completely antithetical to the concerns of modern art. Mathis took great care to establish a link to the past in his art education. Using the now out of style method of copywork he learned techniques from the Old Masters he admires. But Mathis strives for more than technical skill in his work; he wants to create more than a literal or decorative rendering of a subject. He considers his work a personal expression of the aesthetic. For Mathis the human figure, more than any other subject, has the power to engage the viewer. He delights in the subtle play of light and shadow on reflective surfaces such as hair and skin to suggest mood. Over and over he can paint the same model, varying the experience by using pencil, pastel, watercolor, charcoal, and oil.”