American Art – Part I of V: Lyonel Feininger
Born 17 July 1871 – Lyonel Charles Feininger, a leading exponent of Expressionism.
From the Music Archives – Part I of IV: John Coltrane
“Sometimes I’d think I was making music through the wrong end of a magnifying glass.” – John Coltrane, American jazz saxophonist and composer, who died 17 July 1967.
Born 17 July 1797 – Hippolyte De La Roche, a French artist known for painting historical subjects.
“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.” – Adam Smith, Scottish moral philosopher, economist, and author of “The Wealth of Nations,” who died 17 July 1790.
Ideologues who invoke Adam Smith’s name in support of unregulated capitalism should ponder these words from Noam Chomsky: “”He’s pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised. People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of ‘The Wealth of Nations’ where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.” (from “Education is Ignorance”)
Some quotes from Adam Smith:
“Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who have none at all.”
“It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.”
“In regards to the price of commodities, the rise of wages operates as simple interest does, the rise of profit operates like compound interest…Our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.”
“The interest of [businessmen] is always in some respects different from, and even opposite to, that of the public … The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order … ought never to be adopted, till after having been long and carefully examined … with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men … who have generally an interest to deceive and even oppress the public.”
“The learned ignore the evidence of their senses to preserve the coherence of the ideas of their imagination.”
“Wherever there is great property, there is great inequality.”
“In a nation distracted by faction, there are, no doubt, always a few, though commonly but a very few, who preserve their judgment untainted by the general contagion. They seldom amount to more than, here and there, a solitary individual, without any influence, excluded, by his own candor, from the confidence of either party, and who, though he may be one of the wisest, is necessarily, upon that very account, one of the most insignificant men in the society.”
“A nation is not made wealthy by the childish accumulation of shiny metals, but is enriched by the economic prosperity of its people.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of IV: Billie Holiday
“Don’t threaten me with love, baby. Let’s just go walking in the rain.” – Billie Holiday, American jazz singer and songwriter nicknamed “Lady Day,” who died 17 July 1959.
“For myself, I am very small indeed in my own eyes.” – Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Ukrainian-Israeli author and co-recipient (with poet Nelly Sachs) of the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people,” who was born 17 July 1888.
Some quotes from the work of Shmuel Yosef Agnon:
“Not every man remembers the name of the cow which supplied him with each drop of milk he has drunk.”
“I was five years old when I wrote my first song. It was out of longing for my father that I wrote it.”
“Our sages of blessed memory have said that we must not enjoy any pleasure in this world without reciting a blessing.”
“The fate of the singers who, like my songs, went up in flame was also the fate of the books which I later wrote. All of them went up in flame to Heaven in a fire which broke out one night at my home in Bad Homburg as I lay ill in a hospital.”
“When I first began to combine letters other than Hebrew, I read every book in German that came my way, and from these I certainly received according to the nature of my soul.”
From the Music Archives – Part III of IV: Damon Harris
Born 17 July 1950 – Damon Harris, an American singer and member of The Temptations from 1971 to 1975.
American Art – Part II of V: Ann Gleason
Artist Statement: “Clay can do almost anything- the only limits on working with this fascinating material are the number of creative brain cells left in my head! I started working with clay while an art major in college. Until then my artistic energies had largely been 2-D drawing-painting-print making and the like. But the physical-ness of working with clay and all it can potentially do hooked me completely and I’ve never looked back.”
17 July 1918 – Members of the Romanov Family are executed. In the words of one historian, “The Russian Imperial Romanov family (Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei) and all those who chose to accompany them into exile – notably Eugene Botkin, Anna Demidova, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Kharitonov – were shot in Yekaterinburg on 17 July 1918. The murder of the Tsar was carried out by the Ural Soviet which was led by Yakov Yurovsky. In the opinion of historians, the murder had been ordered in Moscow by Vladimir Lenin and Yakov Sverdlov to prevent the rescue of the Imperial Family by approaching White forces during the ongoing Russian Civil War.”
From the Music Archives – Part IV of IV: Spencer Davis
Born 17 July 1939 – Spencer Davis, a British musician, singer-songwriter, and founder of The Spencer Davis Group.
“I have established a small fort with a blacksmith shop and a supply of iron in the road of the emigrants on Blacks Fork of the Green River, which promises fairly.”- Jim Bridger, American mountain man, explorer, trader, and storyteller, who died on 17 July 1881.
Jim Bridger came to know many major figures of the early West, including Brigham Young, Kit Carson, George Armstrong Custer, John Fremont, Joseph Meek, and John Sutter.
American Art – Part III of V: Bernice Abbott
Born 17 July 1898 – Bernice Abbott, a photographer best known for her black-and-white photographs of New York City architecture of the 1930s.
From the Cinema Archives: Wong Kar-wai
Born 17 July 1956 – Wong Kar-wai, a Hong Kong filmmaker internationally renowned for the highly stylized nature of his work, including the movies “Chungking Express” and “The Grandmaster.”
Faye Wong, the actress and singer in this scene from “Chungking Express,” is a Chinese goddess:
Australian Art – Part I of II: Jeffrey Smart
Artist Jeffrey Smart (born 1921) is known for his depictions of urban landscapes. In the words of one critic, “Smart is the least romantic of artists and his paintings are notorious for encompassing lonely urban vistas that seem both disturbing and threatening. Isolated individuals seem lost in industrial wastelands, full of high rise construction, concrete street-scapes and an eerie feeling of harmony and equilibrium – where silence and stillness create a deathly ambience.” In Smart’s words, “I find myself moved by man in his new violent environment. I want to paint this explicitly and beautifully… only very recently have artists again started to comment on their real surroundings.”
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Ephraim Shay
Born 17 July 1839 – Ephraim Shay, an American engineer and inventor of the Shay Locomotive. In the words of one historian, “The Shay locomotive was the most widely used geared steam locomotive. The locomotives were built to the patents of Ephraim Shay, who has been credited with the popularization of the concept of a geared steam locomotive. Although the design of Ephraim Shay’s early locomotives differed from later ones, there is a clear line of development that joins all Shays.”
Above – Ephraim Shay circa 1892.
Below – The “Leetonia No. 1” at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania; the “No. 7 Sonora Class C,” Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad, Felton, California; the “Ely-Thomas Lumber Company No. 6,”operating at the New Jersey Museum of Transportation.
Australian Art – Part II of II: Van Renselar
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Van Renselar: “I want to make pictures which involve and intrigue the viewer. I take ideas from around and within me, using intuition and imagination to create a new context. Much of my work stems from my subconscious, where I see actions, events and ideas as particular shapes and colours. It took me a long time to fully realise that not everyone translated the world in this way.”
17 July 1938 – Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan takes off from Brooklyn, New York on a flight to Long Beach, California, but loses his bearings and lands in Ireland. In the words of one historian, “He claimed his unauthorized flight was due to a navigational error, caused by heavy cloud cover that obscured landmarks and low-light conditions, causing him to misread his compass. However, he was a skilled aircraft mechanic (he was one of the builders of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis) and had made several modifications to his own plane, preparing it for his transatlantic flight. He had been denied permission to make a nonstop flight from New York to Ireland, and his ‘navigational error’ was seen as deliberate. Nevertheless, he never publicly admitted to having flown to Ireland intentionally.”
It is darkly ironic that my son, also named Corrigan, has always been wrong about everything.
American Art – Part IV of V: Justin Wiest
Artist Statement: “While great paintings may serve as alternative realities to some, the practice of painting or picture making is a blissful addiction to others. My only endeavor in painting is to continue to learn the craft and maintain my state of bliss; however I do admire those who use painting to ask questions about the human condition or those who try to influence modes of thinking. At this point in my career I’m enjoying the freedom to experiment and search for the limits of painting by scrubbing at the film of familiarity.”
By Kathleen Norris
“Why do you stand looking up at the skies?” – Acts I:II
“It wasn’t just wind, chasing
thin gunmetal clouds
across the loud sky;
it wasn’t the feeling that one might ascend
on that excited air,
rising like a trumpet note.
And it wasn’t just my sister’s water breaking,
her crying out,
the downward draw of blood and bone . . .
It was all of that,
the mud and new grass
pushing up through melting snow,
the lilac in bud
by my front door, bent low
by last week’s ice storm.
Now the new mother, that leaky vessel,
begins to nurse her child,
beginning the long good-bye.
Below – Pablo Picasso: “Maternity”
American Art – Part V of V: Bob Coonts
Artist Statement: “I am developing a style that is unique to me. I want something that is different. It is stylized, often whimsical, always colorful and hopefully strong in design and composition. I also work on figurative images and images that are strictly abstract or non- objective.
When working on an animal image, I look at the anatomy and try to strategically place elements to help define that anatomy. I like to combine both realism and abstraction in one piece. Sometimes the subject may be more stylized in its form and other times the form might be more realistic. Inside the form imagination rules.
When you look at an image of mine, you can always tell what it is. It is when you step up to it that you can see that I have taken liberty with the inside form. However, I always try to maintain the essence of the animal, figure or tree. Each line and every shape have a purpose. The colors and textures work in harmony with the subject.
I draw and paint with an overall plan in mind. When I start painting, I put down a color and let that color suggest to me the next color at the same time I try to hold to the image that I have in my head. I spend a lot of time working out my drawings and composition. I never do color sketches as I feel that takes away some of the spontaneity.
I use geometric shapes, circles, triangles, squares and other forms, such as arrows and concentric circles. The arrow, used by early Native Americans in many of their animal images found on pottery and petroglyphs, represents the heart line. The heart line was believed to be the strength, source, and breath of life for a particular animal. I use the arrow as a design element and feel that it helps give my paintings a sense of movement as well as suggesting the four directions. Above all, I try to create something unique, fascinating to look at and something that brings joy doing.”