American Art – Part I of V: Susannah Israel
Artist Statement: “My work has its source in the fluid nature of experience and the transience of personal history and memory. These gathered images come together like the many variations found in stories of shared experiences. A particular resonance comes from the voices of the beloved dead, who shared these memories and experiences. Hence, though the work is largely elegiac, it also celebrates and honors the living community.”
Italian painter Carlo Bertocci (born 1946) lives and works in Florence, where since 1997 he has been a member of the Florentine Academy of the Design Arts, an Institute founded by Vasari and Michelangelo.
“Real rebels are rarely anything but second rate outside their rebellion; the drain of time and temper is ruinous to any other accomplishment.” – James Gould Cozzens, American novelist and recipient of the 1949 Pulitzer Prize (for “Guard of Honor”), who died 9 August 1978.
Two more quotes from the work of James Gould Cozzens:
“A cynic is just a man who found out when he was about ten that there wasn’t any Santa Claus, and he’s still upset.”
“The innocent supposition, entertained by most people, that even if they are not brilliant, they are not dumb, is correct only in a very relative sense.”
Born 9 August 1845 – Xavier Mellery, a Belgian Symbolist painter.
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Chinese sculptor Ding Wu Tong: “Ding Wu Tong’s works reflect a subtle expression of traditional theater training and expression of Chinese language. Additionally, he uses three-dimensional sculptural language to convey a two-dimensional plane of visual language and structure. Structure, space and aesthetic are rendered vividly in a stylized manner.”
From the American History Archives: Nagasaki
9 August 1945 – Part of Nagasaki, Japan is devastated when the American B-29 “Bockscar” drops the atomic bomb “Fat Man” on the city.
Below – The atomic cloud over Nagasaki; “Nagasaki,” one of the fifteen Hiroshima panels painted by husband and wife artists Iri Maruki and Toshi Maruki.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Japanese painter Atsushi Suwa (born 1967): “Suwa begins by probing and engaging in dialogue with his subjects under a set of conditions he determines. Through the dialogue, he elicits the story, thought, and other elements making up the subject’s background. The process of communication with his subjects is an important factor for Suwa, and signals a break from realism in the classic sense, which does not go beyond the level of visual duplication of the subject.
Suwa’s works are characterized by stunningly beautiful painting, but at the base of his outstanding technique one can glimpse an abiding spirit of respect and feeling of compassion for the subject. While his mental concentration is maintained on a high level of intensity, this sublime humanity seems to interlock with and animate his body, so that he paints as if weaving the thread of life with each stroke. This is precisely why his creations possess the power to move the viewer so deeply.”
From the Music Archives: Dmitri Shostakovich
Died 9 August 1975 – Dmitri Shostakovich, a Russian composer and pianist.
-I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
—The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.
This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says “No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel,” not seeing
That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.
And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation of it rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Here is the Artist Statement of British painter Michael Hlousek-Nagle: “I am an artist based in London. My work adopts the language of the Western figurative tradition in the belief that the depiction of the human being is still relevant, still a source of beauty, and remains a sure way to explore the fundamental questions of life, the joyful spectacle of human failure, love, mischief, violence, and desire. I believe that paint is still a valid resource and a beautiful medium.”
American Art – Part II of V: Paul W. McCormack
According to one writer, “Paul W. McCormack was born in Rahway, New Jersey in 1962. He received his formal art training at DuCret School of the Arts where he later became a faculty member. Sharing his knowledge on the fine art of portraiture, he has also been on the faculties of the New Jersey Center for the Visual Arts, the Somerset Art Association, and the Newark Museum. Paul is currently teaching workshop intensives at notable institutions, including the Andreeva Portrait Academy, the Bay Area Classical Arts Atelier, and the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.”
“Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.” – Hermann Karl Hesse, German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter, author of “Steppenwolf,” “Siddhartha,” and “The Glass Bead Game,” and the recipient of the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style,” who died 9 August 1962.
Some quotes from the work of Hermann Hesse:
“Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.”
“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.”
“That is where my dearest and brightest dreams have ranged — to hear for the duration of a heartbeat the universe and the totality of life in its mysterious, innate harmony.”
“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. ”
“What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find.”
“Solitude is independence. It had been my wish and with the years I had attained it. It was cold. Oh, cold enough! But it was also still, wonderfully still and vast like the cold stillness of space in which the stars revolve.”
“People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest.”
“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.
Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.
A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.
When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.
A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.
So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”
American Art – Part III of V: Tinka Jordy
In the words of one critic, “Tinka Jordy, from Chapel Hill, uses everyday imagery as a visual stimulus to illustrate stories and personal dreams. ‘I attempt to reach a more subconscious level that will hopefully pass through my personal journey to the universal core,’ says Jordy. ‘It is this core that connects us all.’”
9 August 1854 – Henry David Thoreau publishes “Walden; or, Life in the Woods,” one of the most inspiring books in the history of world literature.
Some quotes from “Walden”:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer.”
“Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Jeffrey T. Larson
In the words of one critic, “Jeffrey T. Larson was born in 1962 in Two Harbors, Minnesota and grew up in the Twin Cities. Jeffrey has been trained in the manner of the Old Masters at the prestigious Atelier Lack, a studio /school whose traditions and training methods reach back through impressionism and the 19th centuries French academies. He followed his four-year formal training with museum study in the United States and abroad.”
A Poem for Today
By Robert Lowell
Those blessèd structures, plot and rhyme—
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
“The painter’s vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.”
But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.
We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.
American Art – Part V of V: Isaac McCaslin
Painter Isaac McCasling (born 1989) earned a BFA in Painting in 2013 at Savannah College of Art and Design.
Below – “Spectacularly Dying”; “Insect-Like Mutations in a Waiting Room”; “The Collector of Fine Things”; “Treasure Trove”; “The Garden of Delightful Things”; “Borge’s Map”; “Model”; “Painting Painting.”