July Offerings – Part XVIII: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Joseph Piccillo

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Joseph Piccillo (born 1941): “Joseph Piccillo’s meticulous charcoal and graphite drawings and paintings reveal an exquisite draftsmanship tempered by emotional sensitivity. Piccillo presents an action-based assemblage of images and symbols by combining dancers, horses, divers, and sometimes mysterious and arbitrarily placed figures producing a surreal effect. His compositional logic, for example, contrasts the gracefully elongated ballerinas to the compressed and invigorated musculature of horses and divers. Piccillo’s horse series details anatomical studies from varying angles of the horse as ‘supreme beast’ while also reflecting a classic homage to their heroism. In short, Piccillo’s charcoal and graphite drawings reveal the mind of a master draftsman at work.”

Nobel Laureate: Nelson Mandela

“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Nelson Mandela, African statesman and co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, who was born 18 July 1918.

In the words of one historian, “In November 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Mandela’s birthday, 18 July, as “Mandela Day,” marking his contribution to the anti-apartheid struggle. It called on individuals to donate 67 minutes to doing something for others, commemorating the 67 years that Mandela had been a part of the movement.”

Some quotes from the work of Nelson Mandela:

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”

Died 18 July 1610 – Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, an Italian painter. In the words of one historian, “His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on Baroque painting.”

Below – “Boy with a Basket of Fruit”; “The Musicians”; “The Calling of Saint Matthew”; “The Seven Works of Mercy.”

Best Enjoyed with Tea and Crumpets – Part I of II: Jane Austen

“One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.” – Jane Austen, English novelist and author of “Emma,” who died 18 July 1871.

Some quotes from “Emma”:

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”
“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control. ”
“Better be without sense than misapply it as you do. ”
“Without music, life would be a blank to me.”
You must be the best judge of your own happiness.”
“I lay it down as a general rule, Harriet, that if a woman doubts as to whether she should accept a man or not, she certainly ought to refuse him.”
“It is not every man’s fate to marry the woman who loves him best.”


Best Enjoyed with Tea and Crumpets – Part II of II: William Makepeace Thackeray

“Next to the very young, I suppose the very old are the most selfish.” – William Makepeace Thackeray, an English novelist and author of “Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero,”
who was born 18 July 1811.

Some quotes from “Vanity Fair”:

“Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.”
“Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?”
“A woman may possess the wisdom and chastity of Minerva, and we give no heed to her, if she has a plain face. What folly will not a pair of bright eyes make pardonable? What dullness may not red lips are sweet accents render pleasant? And so, with their usual sense of justice, ladies argue that because a woman is handsome, therefore she is a fool. O ladies, ladies! there are some of you who are neither handsome nor wise. ”
“The wicked are wicked, no doubt, and they go astray and they fall, and they come by their deserts; but who can tell the mischief which the very virtuous do?”
“The moral world has no particular objection to vice, but an insuperable repugnance to hearing vice called by its proper name.”
“Are not there little chapters in everybody’s life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?”
“All is vanity, nothing is fair.”


Died 18 July 1721 – Jean-Antoine Watteau, a French painter who, in the words of one historian, “revitalized the waning Baroque style, and indeed moved it to the less severe, more naturalistic, less formally classical Rococo.”

Below – “The Embarkation for Cythera”; “Feast in Venice”; “A Pierrot”; “A Mezzetino.”

“I’m going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose.” – Sam I. Hayakawa, Canadian-born American academic and politician, who was born 18 July 1906.

Some quotes from the work of Sam I. Hayakawa:

“In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”
“If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.”
“It is the individual who knows how little they know about themselves who stands the most reasonable chance of finding out something about themselves before they die.”
“In the age of television, image becomes more important than substance.”
“Notice the difference between what happens when a man says to himself, I have failed three times, and what happens when he says, I am a failure.”

“The voice of intelligence… is drowned out by the roar of fear. It is ignored by the voice of desire. It is contradicted by the voice of shame. It is biased by hate and extinguished by anger. Most of all it is silenced by ignorance.” – Karl A. Menninger, American psychiatrist and a member of the Menninger family of psychiatrists who founded the Menninger Foundation and the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, who died 18 July 1990.

A few quotes from the work of Karl A. Menninger:

“What’s done to children, they will do to society.”
“It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one.”
“Unrest of spirit is a mark of life.”
“One does not fall in love; one grows into love, and love grows in him.”

Award-winning Russian artist Nikolai Blokhin has produced several paintings depicting scenes in and around Chicago, six of which appear below.

“Privacy is a privilege not granted to the aged or the young.” – Margaret Laurence, Canadian novelist, short story writer, and author of “The Stone Angel” and “A Jest of God,” who was born 18 July 1926.

Some quotes from Margaret Laurence:

“So, if this were indeed my Final Hour, these would be my words to you. I would not claim to pass on any secret of life, for there is none, or any wisdom except the passionate plea of caring … Try to feel, in your heart’s core, the reality of others. This is the most painful thing in the world, probably, and the most necessary. In times of personal adversity, know that you are not alone. Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all of your fellow humans everywhere in the world. Know that your commitment is above all to life itself.”
“…the infinite capacity of humans to wound one another without meaning or wanting to.”
“My mother sighed, making me feel that I was placing an intolerable burden on her, and yet making me resent having to feel this weight. She looked tired, as she often did these days. Her tiredness bored me, made me want to attack her for it.”
“As a devout Baptist, she believed it was a sin to pray for anything for yourself. You ought to pray only for strength to bear whatever the Lord saw fit to send you, she thought. I was never able to follow this advice, for although I would often feel a sense of uneasiness over the tone of my prayers, I was the kind of person who prayed frantically-‘Please, God, please, please, PLEASE let Ross MacVey like me better than Mavis.’”
“I went upstairs to my room. Momentarily I felt a sense of calm, almost acceptance. Rest beyond the river. I knew now what that meant. It meant Nothing. It meant only silence forever.”
“Everything drifts. Everything is slowly swirling, philosophies tangled with the grocery lists, unreal-real anxieties like rose thorns waiting to tear the uncertain flesh, nonentities of thoughts floating like plankton, green and orange particles, seaweed — lots of that, dark purple and waving, sharks with fins like cutlasses, herself held underwater by her hair, snared around auburn-rusted anchor chains.”

From the Music Archives: Martha Reeves

Born 18 July 1941 – Martha Reeves, an American singer, actress, politician, and member of the Motown group Martha and the Vandellas.


“We want the facts to fit the preconceptions. When they don’t, it is easier to ignore the facts than to change the preconceptions.” – Jessamyn West, American writer of short stories and novels and author of “The Friendly Persuasion,” who was born 18 July 1902.

Some quotes from the work of Jessamyn West:

“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
“A taste for irony has kept more hearts from breaking than a sense of humor, for it takes irony to appreciate the joke which is on oneself. ”
“It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit and gumption to forgive them for having witnessed your own.”
“A rattlesnake that doesn’t bite teaches you nothing.”
“Knowledge of what you love somehow comes to you; you don’t have to read nor analyze nor study. If you love a thing enough, knowledge of it seeps into you, with particulars more real than any chart can furnish.”
“I am always jumping into the sausage grinder and deciding, even before I’m half ground, that I don’t want to be a sausage after all.”
“If you want a baby, have a new one. Don’t baby the old one.”
“Groan and forget it.”

Czech painter Hynek Martinec (born 1980) graduated from the Academy of Fine Art in Prague. In the course of his studies, he spent one term at Middlesex University, London and another at Cooper Union, New York City. He lives and works in London.

From the American History Archives – Part I of II: John Paul Jones

Died 18 July 1792 – John Paul Jones, an American admiral. In the words of one historian “(Jones) was a Scottish sailor and the United States’ first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America’s political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to this day. As such he is sometimes referred to as the ‘Father of the United States Navy’ (an epithet he shares with John Barry). He later served in the Imperial Russian Navy.
During his engagement with HMS Serapis, Jones uttered, according to the later recollection of his first lieutenant, the legendary reply to a taunt about surrender from the British captain: ‘I have not yet begun to fight!’”

Here is one critic describing the artistry of German painter Juergen Grewe (born 1969): “(He) is a painter, his paintings are posters, and his posters are films that are realized while one views his paintings. They have no beginning and no end; they only suggest a being ‘in the thick of it’ in puzzling ways.”

From the American History Archives – Part II of II: Machine Gun Kelly

“Cuz whatever you love could be taken away, so live like it’s your dyin’ day.” – George Francis Barnes, Jr., better known as “Machine Gun Kelly,” an American gangster during the Prohibition era, who was born 18 July 1900 and who died 18 July 1954.

Kelly was arrested on 26 September 1933. In the words of one historian, “Machine Gun Kelly spent his remaining 21 years in prison. During his time at Alcatraz he got the nickname ‘Pop Gun Kelly.’ This was in reference, according to a former prisoner, to the fact that Kelly was a model prisoner and was nowhere near the tough, brutal gangster his wife made him out to be. He spent 17 years on Alcatraz as inmate number 117, working in the prison industries, and boasting of and exaggerating his past escapades to other inmates, and was quietly transferred back to Leavenworth in 1951. He died of a heart attack at Leavenworth on July 18, 1954, his 54th birthday, and is buried at Cottondale Texas Cemetery with a small headstone marked ‘George B. Kelley 1954.’”

Above – Mugshot of George “Machine Gun Kelly” Barnes.
Below – George B. Kelly gravestone.

Dutch painter Poen de Wijs (born 1948) studied at the Royal Academy of Visual Arts in the Hague.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” – Hunter S. Thompson, American writer, journalist, and author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” who was born 18 July 1939.

Some quotes from the work of Hunter S. Thompson:

“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”
“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”
“Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.”
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.”
“There are times, however, and this is one of them, when even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It’s a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”
“Good people drink good beer.”
“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”
“Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles – a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other – that kept me going.”
“Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the ‘good life,’ whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.”


American Art – Part II of III: M.J. Alexander

In the words of one historian, M.J. Alexander “is a writer and photographer who documents people and places of the American West, with an emphasis on the very young, the very old, and American Indian culture.”

Below – “Fire Dance”; “Chiricahua”; “July, Grant County”; “Beneath a Cinnamon Moon”; “Independence Day”; “Apache Ga-an-November.”

A Poem for Today

“The Robots are Coming,”
By Kyle Dargan

with clear-cased woofers for heads,
no eyes. They see us as a bat sees
a mosquito—a fleshy echo,
a morsel of sound. You’ve heard
their intergalactic tour busses
purring at our stratosphere’s curb.
They await counterintelligence
transmissions from our laptops
and our blue teeth, await word
of humanity’s critical mass,
our ripening. How many times
have we dreamed it this way:
the Age of the Machines,
postindustrial terrors whose
tempered paws—five welded fingers
—wrench back our roofs,
siderophilic tongues seeking blood,
licking the crumbs of us from our beds.
O, great nation, it won’t be pretty.
What land will we now barter
for our lives ? A treaty inked
in advance of the metal ones’ footfall.
Give them Gary. Give them Detroit,
Pittsburgh, Braddock—those forgotten
nurseries of girders and axels.
Tell the machines we honor their dead,
distant cousins. Tell them
we tendered those cities to repose
out of respect for welded steel’s
bygone era. Tell them Ford
and Carnegie were giant men, that war
glazed their palms with gold.
Tell them we soft beings mourn
manufacture’s death as our own.

American Art – Part III of III: Leigh Behnke

Leigh Behnke (born 1946) is a graduate of both Pratt Institute and New York University.

This entry was posted in Art and Photography, Books, Movies, Music, and Television. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply