American Art – Part I of III: Angela Cunningham
In the words of one writer, “Angela Cunningham (born 1977) grew up in the Bay Area of California. After high school she studied at various art colleges eventually receiving her BFA in Drawing/ Painting with a minor in sculpture from Laguna College of Art and Design. After teaching in California for a few years, Angela decided to pursue her desire to learn the classical techniques of drawing and painting under the mentorship of Jacob Collins at the Grand Central Academy of Art. She graduated GCA in 2010.”
On This Date – The Russell-Einstein Manifesto
“In view of the fact that in any future world war nuclear weapons will certainly be employed, and that such weapons threaten the continued existence of mankind, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.” – From the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which was issued by Bertrand Russell in London on 9 July 1955. “Here, then, is the problem,” the Manifesto stated, “which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war? People will not face this alternative because it is so difficult to abolish war.” The signatories included eleven pre-eminent intellectuals and scientists (ten of whom were Nobel Laureates), including Albert Einstein, who signed it just a few days before his death. The document continues, “I am bringing the warning pronounced by the signatories to the notice of all the powerful Governments of the world in the earnest hope that they may agree to allow their citizens to survive.” However, perhaps the most powerful line in the Manifesto is this simple admonition: “Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Austalian painter Peter Churcher (born 1964): “Recognised as one of the leading exponents of figurative painting in Australia, his paintings deal primarily with the human subject in portraiture and group figure narrative subjects.”
Another critic: “Churcher prefers to paint the people that he sees in the streets rather than professional models. These ordinary people, with their own personality and natural energy, appear and often reappear in his paintings.”
In the words of one writer, “Zehra Başaran was born in Istanbul in 1971. She graduated from the Painting Department in the Atatürk Faculty of Education at Marmara University in 1995. In 2006, she completed master’s degree at her alma mater. In 2007, she received a juried special prize at the 7th Şefik Bursalı Awards. In the next year, she was awarded a juried special prize at the 8th Şefik Bursalı Awards.”
From the Cinema Archives: Isuzu Yamada
Died 9 July 2012 – Isuzu Yamada, a Japanese actress whose career on stage and screen spanned eight decades.
Americans might not be familiar with the artistry of Isuzu Yamada, but at least one of her performances deserves the widest possible audience. Yamada was brilliant as the Lady Macbeth character (Asaji) in Kurosawa Akira’s film version of “Macbeth” (“Throne of Blood,” 1957). Her portrayal of a woman filled with boundless ambition would have pleased Shakespeare, as would that of the equally ruthless Macbeth character (Taketoki Washizu), played by Toshiro Mifune.
The short video below does not do justice to “Throne of Blood,” the actual title of which is “Castle of Cobwebs” (which was apparently not lurid enough for the film’s American distributor).
Died circa 9 July 1441 – Jan van Eyck, a Flemish painter and one of the most significant Northern Renaissance artists of the 15th century.
Below – “Arnolfini Portrait”; “The Three Marys at the Tomb”; “Portrait of Margaret van Eyck”; “Annunciation”; “Portrait of a Man with a Carnation”; “Portrait of a Man in a Turban” (possible self-portrait).
In memory of Loren Corey Eiseley, American anthropologist, educator, and natural science writer, who died 9 July 1977: Part I of II
“(Eiseley) is every writer’s writer, and every human’s human… one of us, yet most uncommon.” – Ray Bradbury, novelist
Some quotes from Loren Eiseley:
“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. there were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, “It makes a difference for this one.” I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
“Perhaps a creature of so much ingenuity and deep memory is almost bound to grow alienated from his world, his fellows, and the objects around him. He suffers from a nostalgia for which there is no remedy upon earth except as it is to be found in the enlightenment of the spirit–some ability to have a perceptive rather than an exploitive relationship with his fellow creatures.”
“The journey is difficult, immense. We will travel as far as we can, but we cannot in one lifetime see all that we would like to see or to learn all that we hunger to know.”
“Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind
amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.”
“The magic that gleams an instant between Argos and Odysseus is both the recognition of diversity and the need for affection across the illusions of form. It is nature’s cry to homeless, far-wandering, insatiable man: ‘Do not forget your brethren, nor the green wood from which you sprang. To do so is to invite disaster.’”
“Man would not be man if his dreams did not exceed his grasp. … Like John Donne, man lies in a close prison, yet it is dear to him. Like Donne’s, his thoughts at times overleap the sun and pace beyond the body. If I term humanity a slime mold organism it is because our present environment suggests it. If I remember the sunflower forest it is because from its hidden reaches man arose. The green world is his sacred center. In moments of sanity he must still seek refuge there. … If I dream by contrast of the eventual drift of the star voyagers through the dilated time of the universe, it is because I have seen thistledown off to new worlds and am at heart a voyager who, in this modern time, still yearns for the lost country of his birth.”
“There is nothing more alone in the universe than man. He is alone because he has the intellectual capacity to know that he is separated by a vast gulf of social memory and experiment from the lives of his animal associates.”
“Already he (humanity) is physically antique in this robot world he has created. All that sustains him is that small globe of grey matter through which spin his ever-changing conceptions of the universe.”
“Every man contains within himself a ghost continent.”
“I once saw, on a flower pot in my own living room, the efforts of a field mouse to build a remembered field. I have lived to see this episode repeated in a thousand guises, and since I have spent a large portion of my life in the shade of a nonexistent tree I think I am entitled to speak for the field mouse.”
“We think we learn from teachers, and we sometimes do. But the teachers are not always to be found in school or in great laboratories. Sometimes what we learn depends upon our own powers of insight.”
“What if I am, in some way, only a sophisticated fire that has acquired an ability to regulate its rate of combustion and to hoard its fuel in order to see and walk?”
“It has been said that great art is the night thought of man. It may emerge without warning from the soundless depths of the unconscious, just as supernovas may blaze up suddenly in the farther reaches of void space.”
“Each and all, we are riding into the dark. Even living, we cannot remember half the events of our own days.”
“It is a funny thing what the brain will do with memories and how it will treasure them and finally bring them into odd juxtapositions with other things, as though it wanted to make a design, or get some meaning out of them, whether you want it or not, or even see it.”
“It has been said repeatedly that one can never, try as he will, get around to the front of the universe. Man is destined to see only its far side, to realize nature only in retreat.”
“I am older now, and sleep less, and have seen most of what there is to see and am not very much impressed any more, I suppose, by anything.”
In memory of Loren Corey Eiseley, American anthropologist, educator, and natural science writer, who died 9 July 1977: Part II of II
“(Eiseley) can write with poetic sensibility and with a fine sense of wonder and of reverence before the mysteries of life and nature.“ – Orville Prescott, science writer
Some quotes from Loren Eiseley:
“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.”
“One does not meet oneself until one catches the reflection from an eye other than human.”
“The need is not really for more brains, the need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger and the bear. The hand that hefted the ax, out of some old blind allegiance to the past fondles the machine gun as lovingly. It is a habit man will have to break to survive, but the roots go very deep.”
“It is a commonplace of all religious thought, even the most primitive, that the man seeking visions and insight must go apart from his fellows and live for a time in the wilderness.”
“If it should turn out that we have mishandled our own lives as several civilizations before us have done, it seems a pity that we should involve the violet and the tree frog in our departure.”
“This is the most enormous extension of vision of which life is capable: the projection of itself into other lives. This is the lonely, magnificent power of humanity. It is . . . the supreme epitome of the reaching out.”
“We are one of many appearances of the thing called Life; we are not its perfect image, for it has no perfect image except Life, and life is multitudinous and emergent in the stream of time.”
“The truth is, however, that there is nothing very ‘normal’ about nature. Once upon a time there were no flowers at all.”
“Primitives of our own species, even today are historically shallow in their knowledge of the past. Only the poet who writes speaks his message across the millennia to other hearts.”
“Lights come and go in the night sky. Men, troubled at last by the things they build, may toss in their sleep and dream bad dreams, or lie awake while the meteors whisper greenly overhead. But nowhere in all space or on a thousand worlds will there be men to share our loneliness.”
“Out of the choked Devonian waters emerged sight and sound and the music that rolls invisible through the composer’s brain. They are there still in the ooze along the tideline, though no one notices. The world is fixed, we say: fish in the sea, birds in the air. But in the mangrove swamps by the Niger, fish climb trees and ogle uneasy naturalists who try unsuccessfully to chase them back to the water. There are things still coming ashore. ”
“If ‘dead’ matter has reared up this curious landscape of fiddling crickets, song sparrows, and wondering men, it must be plain even to the most devoted materialists that the matter of which he speaks contains amazing, if not dreadful, powers, and may not impossibly be, as Thomas Hardy has suggested, ‘but one mask of many worn by the Great Face behind.’”
“And there was no longer a single race who bred blindly and without question. Time and its agonizing nostalgia would touch the heart each season, and be seen in the fall of a leaf, or, most terrible of all, a loved face would grow old. Cronos and the Fates had entered man’s thinking, and try to escape as he might, he would endure an interior Ice Age. He would make, and then unmake fables. Then at last, and unwillingly, comprehend an intangible abstraction called space-time, and shiver inwardly at the endless abysses of space as he had once shivered, unclothed and unlighted before the Earthly frost.”
“Great minds have always seen it. That is why man has survived his journey this long. When we fail to wish any longer to be otherwise than what we are, we will have ceased to evolve. Evolution has to be lived forward. I say this as one who has stood above the bones of much that has vanished, and at midnight has examined his own face.”
“Once in a lifetime, if one is lucky, one so merges with sunlight and air and running water that whole eons, the eons that mountains and deserts know, might pass in a single afternoon without discomfort.
You have probably never experienced in yourself the meandering roots of a whole watershed or felt your outstretched fingers touching, by some clairvoyant extension, the brooks of snow-line glaciers at the same time you were flowing toward the Gulf over the eroded debris of worn-down mountains.”
“Tomorrow lurks in us, the latency to be all that was not achieved before.”
“I used to lie for hours staring into the dark of the sleeping house, feeling the loneliness that only the sleepless know when the queer feeling comes that it is the sleeping who are alive and that those awake are disembodied ghosts.”
“We loved the earth but could not stay.” – A line from Eiseley’s poem “The Little Treasures” and the epitaph on Loren and Mabel Eiseley’s headstone.
A Poem for Today
“Exiting the Night,”
By D. R. Goodman
By living late, and sleeping late, we miss
the moment when the bats come home to roost—
when crooked shadows flit in jagged loops
that seem to seek the chimney, seem to miss,
then somehow disappear into the eaves;
and they (the bats) tuck wing to fur to wing
in crevices and roof-beam beveling,
doze through our nearly diametric lives,
invisible as brown on brown—until
today, wakened by dreams, I caught a slight,
compelling corner-glimpse in gray first light,
of sudden motion in the mostly still
new dawn; and drawn, I rose to see the flight:
our dark companions exiting the night.
American Art- Part II of III: Mary Beth McKenzie
A Second Poem for Today
By Robinson Jeffers
The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses—
How beautiful when we first beheld it,
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop rock-heads—
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff.—As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.
American Art – Part III of III: Joseph Alleman
Artist Statement: “I’m visually compelled by various forms of shape, value, pattern, etc. Through the process of painting, I gain new and deeper insight into my subject and its surroundings as these elements combine and communicate.
There is a beauty within the everyday and ordinary that only painting can reveal. I’m drawn to these subjects in hopes of making and sharing such discoveries.”