American Art – Part I of V: Kirsten Stingle
Artist Statement: “I believe that storytelling connects us to one another and explains who we are. A fine arts degree in theater strengthened my desire to express common threads of the human experience and honed my understanding of imagery and gesture as powerful narrative tools.
Similar to stagecraft, ceramics is a natural extension of my narrative impulse. Working with clay allows me to create a world in which, if I am attentive, a story can unfold. I work with the human form because while it is instantly approachable, the presentation of its inner psyche can be infinitely complex. To further the narrative, I employ found objects in my ceramic work and extend their implication into a new context.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Brazilian painter Patricia Ariel (born 1970): “Whenever I wanted answers or inspiration for life and art, it was not in the mundane or in the ordinary life that I looked for them, but in the unlimited world of my inner reality. This world, inhabited by mysterious places and people, has its own stories, its own rules, its own wisdom. I am only the storyteller.”
“One may not regard the world as a sort of metaphysical brothel for emotions.” – Arthur Koestler, Hungarian-British writer, journalist, and author of “Darkness at Noon,” who was born 5 September 1905.
Some quotes from the work of Arthur Koestler:
“Creative activity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.”
“The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.”
“Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion.”
“Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.”
“The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.”
“The ‘gallows’ are not only a symbol of death, but also a symbol of cruelty, terror and irreverence for life; the common denominator of primitive savagery, medieval fanaticism and modern totalitarianism.”
“Our Press and our schools cultivate Chauvinism, militarism, dogmatism, conformism and ignorance. The arbitrary power of the Government is unlimited, and unexampled in history; freedom of the Press, of opinion and of movement are as thoroughly exterminated as though the proclamation of the Rights of Man had never been. We have built up the most gigantic police apparatus, with informers made a national institution, and the most refined scientific system of political and mental torture. We whip the groaning masses of the country towards a theoretical future happiness, which only we can.”
“Some of the greatest discoveries…consist mainly in the clearing away of psychological roadblocks which obstruct the approach to reality; which is why, post factum, they appear so obvious.”
“I went to Communism as one goes to a spring of fresh water, and I left Communism as one clambers out of a poisoned river strewn with the wreckage of flooded cities and the corpses of the drowned.”
“I think most historians would agree that the part played by impulses of selfish, individual aggression in the holocausts of history was small; first and foremost, the slaughter was meant as an offering to the gods, to king and country, or the future happiness of mankind. The crimes of a Caligula shrink to insignificance compared to the havoc wrought by Torquemada. The number of victims of robbers, highwaymen, rapists, gangsters and other criminals at any period of history is negligible compared to the massive numbers of those cheerfully slain in the name of the true religion, just policy or correct ideology. Heretics were tortured and burnt not in anger but in sorrow, for the good of their immortal souls. Tribal warfare was waged in the purported interest of the tribe, not of the individual. Wars of religion were fought to decide some fine point in theology or semantics. Wars of succession dynastic wars, national wars, civil wars, were fought to decide issues equally remote from the personal self-interest of the combatants.
Let me repeat: the crimes of violence committed for selfish, personal motives are historically insignificant compared to those committed ad majorem gloriam Dei, out of a self-sacrificing devotion to a flag, a leader, a religious faith or a political conviction. Man has always been prepared not only to kill but also to die for good, bad or completely futile causes. And what can be a more valid proof of the reality of the self-transcending urge than this readiness to die for an ideal?”
“The greatest temptation for the like of us is: to renounce violence, to repent, to make peace with oneself. Most revolutionaries fell before this temptation, from Spartacus to Danton and Dostoevsky; they are the classical form of betrayal of the cause. The temptations of God were always more dangerous for mankind than those of Satan. As long as chaos dominates the world, God is an anachronism; and every compromise with one’s own conscience is perfidy. When the accursed inner voice speaks to you, hold your hands over your ears.”
Alphons William Bernhard Johannes (Fons) Bemelmans (Born in Maastricht, January 8, 1938) is a Dutch artist, best known as a sculptor. He also works as a goldsmith, painter, graphic artist and medal artist.
“Research experts want to know what can be done about the values of poor segregated children; and this is a question that needs asking. But they do not ask what can be done about the values of the people who have segregated these communities. There is no academic study of the pathological detachment of the very rich.” – Jonathan Kozol, America writer, educator, activist, and author of “Death at an Early Age” and “Savage Inequalities,” who was born 5 September 1936.
Some quotes from the work of Jonathan Kozol:
“A dream does not die on its own. A dream is vanquished by the choices ordinary people make about real things in their own lives.”
“I have been criticized throughout the course of my career for placing too much faith in the reliability of children’s narratives; but I have almost always found that children are a great deal more reliable in telling us what actually goes on in public school than many of the adult experts who develop policies that shape their destinies.”
“There is something deeply hypocritical in a society that holds an inner-city child only eight years old ‘accountable’ for her performance on a high-stakes standardized exam but does not hold the high officials of our government accountable for robbing her of what they gave their own kids six or seven years before.”
“I always want to tell these young idealists that the world is not as dangerous as many in the older generation want them to believe…The [people] for whom I feel the greatest sadness are the ones who choke on their beliefs, who never act on their ideals, who never know the state of struggle in a decent cause, and never know the thrill of even partial victories.”
“Placing the burden on the individual to break down doors in finding better education for a child is attractive to conservatives because it reaffirms their faith in individual ambition and autonomy. But to ask an individual to break down doors that we have chained and bolted in advance of his arrival is unfair.”
“‘Evil exists,’ he says, not flinching at the word. ‘I believe that what the rich have done to the poor people in this city is something that a preacher would call evil. Somebody has power. Pretending that they don’t so they don’t need to use it to help people-that is my idea of evil.’”
Here is the Artist Statement of English painter Martha Parsey (born 1973): “My paintings are large and figurative, often diptychs or a number of canvasses, made without preliminary sketches or any other devices- just using my eyes and a pencil, drawing straight onto the bare canvas. Working on bare canvas means that whatever I paint remains. This gives the process of painting an element of risk, a kind of performance in the making of it. Although areas of my paintings are rendered in great detail I allow unpainted areas to give the viewer room to form a discourse with the image, granting them access to the inner world of the picture, whereby the pictures take on a life in the eyes and mind of the viewer.”
Died 5 September 1922 – Georgette Agutte, a French painter.
Argentinean painter Manuel Ramat (born 1977) is a Professor at the Superior School of Fine Arts “Prilidiano Pueyrredon” in Buenos Aires.
American Art – Part II of V: Cynthia Feustel
In the words of one critic, “Cynthia Feustel is best known for expressing inner beauty, hope and strength of the human spirit, particularly that of women, through her color choices, brushwork and dynamic use of light. Her sensitive portrayal of her subjects showcases her ability to capture the profound and quiet reflection of a single moment in time.”
From the American Old West – Part I of II: Jesse James
“My pistols, however, I always kept by me.” – Jesse James, American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer, who was born 5 September 1847.
American Art – Part III of V: Kenney Mencher
Kenney Mencher earned a B.A. in Art History from the City University of New York, an M.A. in Art History from the University of California, Davis, and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University of Cincinnati.
From the American Old West – Part II of II: Crazy Horse
“A very great vision is needed, and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.” – Crazy Horse (Lakota Tashunke Witko, literally “His-Horse-Is-Spirited”), Native American visionary and war leader of the Oglala Lakota, who died 5 September 1877.
“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one. He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float. His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in that queer way. It was this vision that gave him his great power, for when he went into a fight, he had only to think of that world to be in it again, so that he could go through anything and not be hurt . . . They used to say that he carried a sacred stone with him, like one he had seen in some vision, and that when he was in danger, the stone always got heavy and protected him somehow. That, they used to say, was the reason that no horse he ever rode lasted very long. I do not know about this; maybe people only thought it; but it is a fact that he never kept one horse long. They wore out. I think it was only the power of his great vision that made him great.” – Black Elk, in “Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Ogalala Sioux,” as told to John Neihardt
Below – A 1934 sketch of Crazy Horse made by an artist after interviewing Crazy Horse’s sister, who claimed the depiction was accurate; the Crazy Horse Memorial being sculpted on Thunderhead Mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Australian Art – Part I of II: Megan Roodenrys
French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog “the most important film director alive,” and American film critic Roger Ebert stated that Herzog “has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular.”
Some quotes from the work of Werner Herzog:
“I think it is a quest of literature throughout the ages to describe the human condition.”
“Facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.”
“I could not become an American citizen. I would not like to become a citizen of a country that has capital punishment.”
“I despise formal restaurants. I find all of that formality to be very base and vile. I would much rather eat potato chips on the sidewalk.”
“I have nothing against 3D films but I do not need to see them.”
“I like and I love everything that has to do with cinema: writing, directing, editing, creating music, and even acting.”
“I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century.”
“I think there should be holy war against yoga classes.”
“I’m a very professional man. I’m not out for the experience of adventure.”
“I’m not a journalist; I’m a poet.”
“I’m not an activist.”
“I’m not an interviewer. I have conversations.”
“I’m not into digital marketing, downloading, or streaming – I’ve always been a man of the theaters.”
“I’m the last one who would do self-analysis.”
“Sometimes bad luck hits you like in an ancient Greek tragedy, and it’s not your own making. When you have a plane crash, it’s not your fault.”
“The universe is monstrously indifferent to the presence of man.”
“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.”
“Why go to Antarctica, why do a film like ‘Grizzly Man’? It’s the sheer joy of storytelling – it’s the urge.”
“You should bear in mind that almost all my documentaries are feature films in disguise.”
“Ambition is to be the fastest runner on this planet, to be the first on the South Pole, which is a grotesque perversion of ambition. It’s an ego trip, and I’m not on an ego trip. I don’t have ambitions – I have a vision.”
“I think there are specific times where film noir is a natural concomitant of the mood. When there’s insecurity, collapse of financial systems – that’s where film noir always hits fertile ground.”
“Life on our planet has been a constant series of cataclysmic events, and we are more suitable for extinction than a trilobite or a reptile. So we will vanish. There’s no doubt in my heart.”
“Perhaps I seek certain utopian things, space for human honor and respect, landscapes not yet offended, planets that do not exist yet, dreamed landscapes.”
“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.”
“Do you not then hear this horrible scream all around you that people usually call silence?”
“Academia is the death of cinema. It is the very opposite of passion. Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.”
“Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.”
“If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big color photos and gossip columns, or the ‘National Enquirer.’ Such vulgarity is healthy and safe.”
“Facts do not convey truth. That’s a mistake. Facts create norms, but truth creates illumination.”
“I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony; but chaos, hostility and murder.”
“It is not only my dreams, my belief is that all these dreams are yours as well. The only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate them. And that is what poetry or painting or literature or filmmaking is all about… and it is my duty because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are. We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field.”
“May I propose a Herzog dictum? Those who read own the world, and those who watch television lose it.”
“At the press conference for the film he impressed everyone with his complete sincerity and innocence. He said he had come to see the sea for the first time and marveled at how clean it was. Someone told him that, in fact, it wasn’t. ‘When the world is emptied of human beings,’ he said, ‘it will become so again.’”
“There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.”
“If you’re purely after facts, please buy yourself the phone directory of Manhattan. It has four million times correct facts. But it doesn’t illuminate.”
“Meanwhile it’s got stormy, the tattered fog even thicker, chasing across my path. Three people are sitting in a glassy tourist cafe between clouds and clouds, protected by glass from all sides. Since I don’t see any waiters, it crosses my mind that corpses have been sitting there for weeks, statuesque. All this time the cafe has been unattended, for sure. Just how long have they been sitting here, petrified like this?”
“A fairly young, intelligent-looking man with long hair asked me whether filming or being filmed could do harm, whether it could destroy a person. In my heart the answer was yes, but I said no.”
“A vision had seized hold of me, like the demented fury of a hound that has sunk its teeth into the leg of a deer carcass and is shaking and tugging at the downed game so frantically that the hunter gives up trying to calm him. It was the vision of a large steamship scaling a hill under its own steam, working its way up a steep slope in the jungle, while above this natural landscape, which shatters the weak and the strong with equal ferocity, soars the voice of Caruso, silencing all the pain and all the voices of the primeval forest and drowning out all birdsong. To be more precise: bird cries, for in this setting, left unfinished and abandoned by God in wrath, the birds do not sing; they shriek in pain, and confused trees tangle with one another like battling Titans, from horizon to horizon, in a steaming creation still being formed. Fog-panting and exhausted they stand in this unreal misery – and I, like a stanza in a poem written in an unknown foreign tongue, am shaken to the core.”
Australian Art – Part II of II: Tricia Migdoll
Artist Statement: ”Growing up with the National Gallery of Victoria at my doorstep, I could not help but be enchanted by the arts.
Primarily self-taught, I began painting in 2002, inspired by the great masters of art and seeking to wed the contemporary with the traditional.
I paint anything that moves me, reflecting my love of natural beauty, spirituality, and humanity.
I lose myself in the process of painting and feel at times an instrument expressing the highest of emotions. My passion is to share this deep connection to Love with the viewer.”
“Tea for My Father,”
By Michael Hofmann
I think of his characteristic way
of saying ‘tea,’ with his teeth
bared and clenched in anticipation.
It is not his first language nor
his favourite drink, so there is
something exotic about both word
and thing. He asks for it several times
a day, in the morning and afternoon
only. Mostly it is to help him work.
He likes it very strong, with cream,
in mugs, and sweetens it himself.
He puts it on the window-sill in front
of his table, and lets it grow cold.
Later on, I come and throw it out.
American Art – Part IV of V: Ingrid Dee Magidson
Artist Statement: “The theme of my work is the often delicate balance between the material and the spiritual. This perpetual dance intrigues my sense of wonder: that we can be beings of such physicality, yet ponder infinity, space, and our own spirituality.
My work uses transparent layers to reveal the depth that is hidden at first glance. I like to use renaissance, or sometimes later, imagery to convey the fleeting quality of life. The people painted so long ago were as alive as each of us now. They had hopes, dreams, and lives we can never know. I bring them back to life, perhaps only for a moment, but alive nonetheless. It is this mix of transience and
permanence that is so captivating to me. This is also why I so often use butterflies in my work. They are such exquisitely delicate creatures, with so much complexity and beauty, but live such a short life – some, only a single day. We are like them in many ways.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Mary Avidano
My father, rather a quiet man,
told a story only the one time,
if even then—he had so little
need, it seemed, of being understood.
Intervals of years, his silences!
Late in his life he recalled for us
that when he was sixteen, his papa
entrusted to him a wagonload
of hogs, which he was to deliver
to the train depot, a half-day’s ride
from home, over a hilly dirt road.
Lightly he held the reins, light his heart,
the old horses, as ever, willing.
In town at noon he heard the station-
master say the train had been delayed,
would not arrive until that evening.
The boy could only wait. At home they’d
wait for him and worry and would place
the kerosene lamp in the window.
Thus the day had turned to dusk before
he turned about the empty wagon,
took his weary horses through the cloud
of fireflies that was the little town.
In all his years he’d never seen those
lights—he thought of this, he said, until
he and his milk-white horses came down
the last moonlit hill to home, drawn as
from a distance toward a single flame.
Below: Amy Stewart: “Looking Down J Street.”
American Art – Part V of V: Misha Malpica
Artist Statement: “I am a mixed media artist, living in the mountain town of Ruidoso, New Mexico. Enamored with the Southwest, my work focuses primarily on the people and the animals that live here. My color palette consists of warm, rich earth tones with a splash of turquoise or red. I’ve been sculpting in various mediums for over forty years and every creation is different. I create each sculpture one at a time and decorate them with feathers and vintage beads and other beautiful adornments. I can’t help myself, I just love the beauty of an iridescent pheasant feather, the sparkle of an old bead, the design of a button. Threads and fibers, ribbons and fringe, I add each element to make the sculpture unique. Currently I am exploring clay. I am in love with the texture and versatility of clay. Holding my breath as I open the kiln, it’s like Christmas morning! My studio is brimming with paints and stains and feathers and furs and beads and found objects. My inspiration surrounds me.”