American Art – Part I of VII: Linda McCord
Artist Statement: “I do art to escape into a world of solitude where I can go on a creative journey. Although I work in many different mediums, my work usually includes the human figure. I love light and shadow and the way the light forms to make various shapes. It is these shape I focus on in my work. I repeat the positive shape in the negative areas while trying to create a sense of rhythm. I love color but value is more important to me. Contrast of any type excites me. With all my work that involves color, I prefer to use many glazes rather than direct application. I decide on composition and color by doing a series of thumbnail sketches and paintings. I plan my work carefully, and although the major decisions are made before I start any piece of work, I leave room for flexibility while the work is in progress.”
Died 11 May 1996 – Robert Edwin Hall, a New Zealand mountaineer. In the words of one historian, Hall is “best known for being head guide of a 1996 Mount Everest expedition in which he, a fellow guide, and two clients perished.” Jon Krakauer provides a riveting account of the doomed expedition in his best-selling work ‘Into Thin Air.’
American Art – Part II of VII: Bonnie Sklarski
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” – Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter and guitarist, who died 11 May 1981.
Nobel Laureate: Camilo Jose Cela
“Literature is the denunciation of the times in which one lives.” – Camilo Jose Cela, Spanish novelist, short story writer, essayist, and recipient of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature “for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability,” who was born 11 May 1916.
A few quotes from the work of Camilo Jose Cela:
“There are two kinds of men: the ones who make history and the ones who endure it.”
“Ideas? My head is full of them, one after the other, but they serve no purpose there. They must be put down on paper, one after the other.”
“When debts are not paid because they cannot be paid, the best thing to do is not talk about them, and shuffle the cards again.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian hyper-realistic painter Matthew Doust (1984-2013): “Exhibiting exquisite detail and attention to the minutae of the human landscape, Doust used portraiture to boldly map an intriguing interpretation of external physicality and internal impressions.”
Died 11 May 1995 – David Avidan, an Israeli poet, painter, filmmaker, and playwright.
“Concerning the Gloomy Love of J. Alfred Prufrock”
One day the sober wisdoms will come to wake us
from our dull and heavy slumber, like cannon balls
on a very bright Saturday morn. Then behind us
Alfred Prufrock’s gloomy love will travel to our towns
across a long and shifting road that will tactfully go round our throats –
and there it will become when the time comes
a well-preserved collection of late recollections
yet our songs will refuse to take and be taken
and this will be a sure sign of our youthful days.
And yet, either way, every resistance breaks.
Let us then take the last road
leading to our seashore, to the sands,
into the kingdom of lost precincts where only
we are allowed entry, and the secret password
is to be uttered firmly but softly,
and there’s a door that will open and shut,
and there’s always yet another untried
option, and the day is still wide open.
And there, in underwater housing projects, sea-maidens
will frolic across our knees, on their faces
the appearance of frightened bliss, and the remembrance
of skies too high and too many eyes,
and the incessant question who’s coming who’s coming,
and there, our legs outstretched,
to the distant sound of interlude singing
we’ll suck their lips until we sink.
Below – Melvin Vargas: “Mermaids”
In the words of one critic, “Andrei Belichenko was born in 1974 in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He is a graduate of the Republican Art School (1990). Andrei studied in the Graphic Department of the Academy of Arts. Consumed by the importance of detail, realism, and the individual expression of his subjects, Belichenko’s exceptional talent and excellence in academic standing earned him a Master of Fine Arts within five years instead of the customary six.”
From the American History Archives: Glacier National Park
11 May 1910 – President William Howard Taft signs a bill that creates Glacier National Park, which had formerly been a forest reserve.
American Art – Part III of VII: Haley Hasler
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Haley Hasler:
”The self-portrait confronts the viewer with an outward representation of the inner self. Here is the exterior as seen by the interior.
The self-portrait as a character introduces a further element. While the self-portrait implies that the artist is showing us the truth, a representation of the exterior in disguise conveys the impossibility and doubleness of this endeavor. The costumed self-portrait pays homage to the illusion of painting. Still, underneath the layers of concealment, the interior reflects back as in a mirror.”
In Hasler’s words: “Through the seemingly private world of self-portraiture and autobiographical narrative, I hope to present a compelling fictive world, without dictating a precise narrative or relying on a static symbolism. I try to invest the figure with an iconic confrontability – making it operate both as self-portrait and archetypal heroine. At the same time, the narrative aspect of the work is meant to subvert the strictly iconic mode – once again, conveying the questionability of a painting’s claim to truth.
The theatrical aspect of my work is deliberate, to emphasize painting’s connection with artifice and enactment. I conceive of a painting as a kind of theatre – a stage set for my characters and protagonists. Through the shallow, receding stage-like space, I wish to emphasize the unreality and illusion off a painting, which contradict its paradoxical appearance of reality.
Painting impels me to cross the border freely between the universe of things and the universe of the imagination. The former involves an urgent encounter between the eye and the exterior world, while the latter contains the interior universe of memory, history, narrative, and desire. Ultimately, I let the painting itself speak to me – its formal needs guide the narrative and the subject, and give the work meaning.”
Pulitzer Prize: Robert Frost
11 March 1924 – Robert Frost is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the first of four that he would win, for “New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes.”
“Fire and Ice”
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. – From “New Hampshire”
American Art – Part IV of VII: Esther Shimazu
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Esther Shimazu: “Esther Shimazu is an American sculptor who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1957. Her grandparents were immigrant laborers from Japan. She attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa before transferring to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1980 and a Master of Fine Art in 1982.
She is best known for her stoneware sculptures of bald, nude chunky Asian women constructed with hand building techniques. They are colored with slips and oxides, bisque-fired, hand-sanded, and colored further with rubbed-in and airbrushed oxides. Then they are fired to cone 5-6 oxidation and sanded one last time.”
A Poem for Today
By Katherine Coles
You are smaller than I remember
And so is the house, set downhill
Afloat in a sea of scrub oak. From up here
It’s an ordinary box with gravel
Spread over its lid, weighting it, but
Inside it’s full of shadows and sky.
Clouds pull themselves over dry
Grass, which, if I’m not mistaken, will erupt
Any minute in flame. Only
A spark, a sunbeam focused. From up
Here, enjoying the view, I can finally
Take you in. Will you wave back? I keep
Slingshotting around. There’s gravity
For you, but all I ever wanted was to fly.
American Art – Part V of VII: Alfredo Arreguin
Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of Alfredo Arreguin: “Although born in Mexico, Arreguín developed as an artist and consolidated his professional career in Seattle, Washington, where he has lived almost continuously since 1956. His early childhood and adolescence, as well as later experiences that led to his maturity as a genuinely American painter, in the real, hemispheric sense of this term, endow him with a unique perspective on life and the world. Many of the intricate and exuberant elements that stamp a distinctive character on his works are generated by his memories of his country of birth. Mexico’s alternately vibrant and ascetic culture––its exquisite ceramics, textiles, and wood handicrafts; its tumultuous and glorious history, from the cosmogonies and sacred rites of the Tarascan (Purhépecha), Mayan, Aztec, and Olmec civilizations to the wars of conquest and independence; its verdant and torrid nature and landscape––eventually overlaps and blends, dreamlike, with his experiences in this serene and beautiful corner we call the Pacific Northwest of the United States.”
American Literary Genius: William Faulkner
11 May 1942 – William Faulkner’s collection of short stories, “Go Down, Moses,” is published. This volume contains “The Bear,” one of the great initiation stories in the history of American letters. In the words of one critic, ‘The thematic patterns of ‘The Bear’ extend beyond the hunting narrative to implicate multiple tensions that have defined American life, including the conflicts between the wilderness and civilization, Native American ethics and European exploitation, freedom and slavery, pagan values and Christian duties, innocence and knowledge of sin.”
Every American should read “The Bear” at least once.
“It was of the wilderness, the big woods, bigger and older than any recorded document:–of white man fatuous enough to believe he had bought any part of it, of Indian ruthless enough to pretend that any fragment of it had been his to convey….” – From “The Bear”
Below – Boyd Saunders: A stone lithograph accompanying William Faulkner’s “The Bear.”
American Art – Part VI of VII: Anne Leone
Painter Anne Leone earned a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the University of Cincinnati.
A Second Poem for Today
By Heather Allen
So still at heart,
They respond like water
To the slightest breeze,
Rippling as one body,
And, as one mind,
The perfect confidants,
They keep to themselves,
A web of trails and nests,
Burrows and hidden entrances—
Do not reveal
Those camouflaged in stillness
From the circling hawks,
Or crouched and breathless
At the passing of the fox.
American Art – Part VII of VII: Yuqi Wang
Artist Yuqi Wang (born 1958) has studied painting both China and the United States and now lives and works in New York City. One critic describes Wang’s canvases thusly: “The influence of Rossetti and Burne-Jones is unmistakable, and in the tradition of the Pre-Raphaelites Yuqi manages to create work which is as sensitive as it is powerful.”