American Art – Part I of VI: Lori Nelson
Artist Statement: “One humid day in the summer of 2008, as I was painting in my studio in Brooklyn, the Emergency Alert System kicked in. A stuttering, belching alarm cut into the afternoon radio programming and I froze at the easel while my two kids started up from their reading/gaming on the sofa. I turned up the radio; a funnel cloud had been spotted over Manhattan and we were being instructed to go underground. Electrified, we grabbed our backpacks, shut off the power, and locked up. The air was yellow and thick in Brooklyn, bruised over the East River, charcoal over Manhattan and going into the subway was our best guess as to how to do this emergency. We headed down into the York St. station, a fairly deep subway stop. My children and I took shelter in the subway for about ten minutes and then decided to just go on home. We guessed we should watch the TV.
No tornado touched down in New York City that day, only a vindictive rain, but as we had clambered down into the subway for safety, I thought about how like animals we are in a crisis, burrowing underground.”
“Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.” – Stanislaw Lem, Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire, and author of “Solaris,” who was born 12 September 1921.
Some quotes from the work of Stanislaw Lem:
“When smashing monuments, save the pedestals—they always come in handy.”
“We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all a sham. We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don’t want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can’t accept it for what it is. We are searching for an ideal image of our own world: we go in quest of a planet, a civilization superior to our own but developed on the basis of a prototype of our primeval past. At the same time, there is something inside us which we don’t like to face up to, from which we try to protect ourselves, but which nevertheless remains, since we don’t leave Earth in a state of primal innocence. We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us – that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence – then we don’t like it anymore.”
“How do you expect to communicate with the ocean, when you can’t even understand one another?”
“Each of us is aware he’s a material being, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and that the strength of all our emotions combined cannot counteract those laws. It can only hate them. The eternal belief of lovers and poets in the power of love which is more enduring that death, the finis vitae sed non amoris that has pursued us through the centuries is a lie. But this lie is not ridiculous, it’s simply futile. To be a clock on the other hand, measuring the passage of time, one that is smashed and rebuilt over and again, one in whose mechanism despair and love are set in motion by the watchmaker along with the first movements of the cogs. To know one is a repeater of suffering felt ever more deeply as it becomes increasingly comical through a multiple repetitions. To replay human existence – fine. But to replay it in the way a drunk replays a corny tune pushing coins over and over into the jukebox?”
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Johnny Cash
“You know what a big fun day for me is now? It’s when June gets up and we’re both feeling good and we want to go shopping. We’ll go to Wal-Mart and I’ll get one of those electric carts and just race through the aisles. Imagine that being the highlight of your day.” – Johnny Cash, American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, who died 12 September 2003.
Died 12 September 1981 – Eugenio Montale, an Italian poet, essayist, editor, translator, and recipient of the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions.”
“To Rest in the Shade”
To rest in the shade, pale and thoughtful,
by a sun-hot garden wall
listening among thorns and brushwood
to the cry of blackbirds, the hiss of snakes.
In cracks in the soil or amongst the vetch
to spy on the files of red ants
now scattering now intertwining
at the top of miniscule mountains.
To observe among the leaves the distant
quivering scales of the sea,
while the tremulous cries rise
from cicadas on the naked hills.
Here is one critic describing the background of Australian artist Damien Kamholtz: “Damien is a prolific painter with a strong interest and focus on art and its relationship to the landscape. Through travel around our ancient land, he has discovered and sought to express the parallels between indigenous cultures in a traditional and contemporary sense. His art is an attempt to communicate to the heart and spirit, rather than our intellect – painterly images comprising of subtle and suggestive combinations of nature’s organised and abstract shapes, entwined in universal and personal symbolism that incorporate suggested faces, figures and totemic animals.”
“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken, American journalist, essayist, editor, cultural critic, scholar of American English, and author of “The American Language,” who was born 12 September 1880.
See also “The Impossible HL Mencken: A Selection of His Best Newspaper Stories,” Yardley, Jonathan, ed.
Some quotes from the work of H. L. Mencken:
“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
“Moral certainty is always a sign of cultural inferiority. The more uncivilized the man, the surer he is that he knows precisely what is right and what is wrong. All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them. The truly civilized man is always skeptical and tolerant.”
“We must respect the other person’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”
“An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.”
“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.”
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…”
“Happiness is the china shop; love is the bull.”
“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
“Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
“The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Jeanie Tomanek
Artist Statement: ”Throughout my adult life I have always painted—sometimes only one painting a year. Several years ago I escaped corporate life. Since then I have concentrated on developing my style and voice in my work.
I paint to explore the significance of ideas, memories, events, feelings, dreams and images that seem to demand my closer attention. Some of the themes I investigate come first in poems I write. Literature, folktales and myths often inspire my exploration of the feminine archetype. My figures often bear the scars and imperfections that, to me, characterize the struggle to become.
In my work I use oils, acrylic, pencil and thin glazes to create a multi-layered surface that may be scratched through, written on or painted over to reveal and excavate the images that feel right for the work.
In reclaiming and reconstructing areas of the canvas, the process of painting becomes analogous to having a second chance at your life, this time a little closer to the heart’s desire.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Franz Liszt
“If youth is a defect, it is one we outgrow too soon.” – Robert Lowell, American poet, recipient of the National Book Award, recipient of the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who died 12 September 1977.
“Children of Light”
Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen’s bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva’s night,
They planted here the Serpent’s seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning the unburied grain.
Born 12 September 1829 – Anselm Feuerbach, a German classicist painter.
“There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.” – Han Suyin, the pen name of Elizabeth Comber, China-born Eurasian physician, novelist, memoirist, and author of “A Many-Splendoured Thing,” “The Mountain Is Young,” and “My House Has Two Doors,” who was born 12 September 1917.
Two more quotes from Han Suyin:
“Love from one being to another can only be that two solitudes come nearer, recognize and protect and comfort each other.”
“I really can’t hate more than 5 or 10 years. Wouldn’t it be terrible to be always burdened with those primary emotions you had at one time?”
From the American History Archives: Canyonlands National Park
12 September 1964 – The U.S. Congress creates Canyonlands National Park.
Below – The Island in the Sky mesa, as seen from the Needles district; Looking over the Green River from Island in the Sky; Windgate Sandstone Cliffs; the White Rim Sandstone; Mesa Arch at sunrise; Canyonlands at daybreak.
American Art – Part III of VI: Nathan DeYoung
Here is how one critic describes the work of painter Nathan DeYoung: “Seeking to better understand those around him, Nathan DeYoung offers an inquisitive exploration into the human condition. Using the intimate observations of others as a muse, he creates characters that allow him to fully analyze and interpret those to whom he is closest. By revealing and destroying his characters in frenzies of shape and color, he ventures to grasp, uncover, and expose the often hidden, with the hope that insight into others and their actions will enable a deeper understanding of himself.”
“Few people can resist doing what is universally expected of them. This invisible pressure is more difficult to stand against than individual tyranny.” – Charles Dudley Warner, an American essayist, novelist, humorist, friend of Mark Twain (with whom he co-authored the novel “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today”), first president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and author of “My Summer in a Garden,” who was born 12 September 1829.
Some quotes from Charles Dudley Warner:
“Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
“What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it.”
“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its
“Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it.”
“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Yvette Moore: “I want my art to do so many things, but most importantly I want my art to be a document – a document of where we came from and where we are going. I find much of the simpler things in life no longer exist. By painting what I am most familiar with – children, the prairies and architecture – I can combine authenticity and a consistent integrity in all my works.”
Yvette Moore lives and works in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where she runs the Yvette Moore Gallery.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes–
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of your hands–
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses” – “Rose,” by Frederick Louis MacNeice, Irish poet and playwright, who was born 12 September 1907.
“The Sunlight on the Garden”
The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold,
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.
Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.
The sky was good for flying
Defying the church bells
And every evil iron
Siren and what it tells:
The earth compels,
We are dying, Egypt, dying
And not expecting pardon,
Hardened in heart anew,
But glad to have sat under
Thunder and rain with you,
And grateful too
For sunlight on the garden.
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Mikhail Borodin
From the Movie Archives: Victor Wong
“The power in this flask will be our only hope against the Bodhisattva of the underworld. The ultimate evil spirit. Yes. Only a dream can kill a dream. I’ve waited for this for a long time, Jack. The evil dream will die.” – Victor Wong, Chinese-American actor, who died 12 September 2001, portraying Egg Shen in John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China.”
In addition to being one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, Victor Wong studied political science and journalism at the University of California, Berkeley and Theology at the University of Chicago under Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Martin Buber. When he returned to San Francisco, Wong resumed his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute under Mark Rothko. He was friends with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and he met Jack Kerouac, who chronicled their meeting in his novel “Big Sur,” in which Wong is “Arthur Ma.”
12 March 1986 – Honolulu, Hawaii: My middle son, Dougal Tukten Neralich, attends his first movie in a theatre on the occasion of his fifth birthday. After a dinner at Auntie Pasto’s Italian Restaurant, the lad sees “Big Trouble in Little China,” and it naturally changed his life for the better.
American Art – Part IV of VI: Lisa Gloria
In the words of one writer, “Lisa Gloria graduated from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, IL, in 1989. She studied art briefly at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana, and teaches painting and drawing workshops near her home in Aurora, IL.
A mother of 5 daughters, Lisa’s work is at once feminine and timeless, with aspects of realism, impressionism and expressionism. She seeks to create compelling images that engage the viewer on personal level, drawing the gaze into the picture plane, as though this moment was captured solely for you.”
A Poem for Today
“A Curse Against Elegies,”
By Anne Sexton
Oh, love, why do we argue like this?
I am tired of all your pious talk.
Also, I am tired of all the dead.
They refuse to listen,
so leave them alone.
Take your foot out of the graveyard,
they are busy being dead.
Everyone was always to blame:
the last empty fifth of booze,
the rusty nails and chicken feathers
that stuck in the mud on the back doorstep,
the worms that lived under the cat’s ear
and the thin-lipped preacher
who refused to call
except once on a flea-ridden day
when he came scuffing in through the yard
looking for a scapegoat.
I hid in the kitchen under the ragbag.
I refuse to remember the dead.
And the dead are bored with the whole thing.
But you – you go ahead,
go on, go on back down
into the graveyard,
lie down where you think their faces are;
talk back to your old bad dreams.
American Art – Part V of VI: Caitlin Fennelly
Artist Statement: “My work is centered on the relationship between the human body and his/her psychological environment. The paintings store an energy and imprint of the moments in which it was made, a physical manifestation of the urge to create. The images serve as a mirror for the psyche of the viewer. Art as a viewing and making process can raise awareness and restore the unconscious struggle for internal/external union. In understanding our inner components that give way to the whole of ourselves, the better we can empathize, accept, and co-exist with our fellow man.
I prefer to paint the female form to establish the contemporary female point of view. As a society, we are trapped in our categories, our stereotypical and historical perception of woman. Institutionalized religion acts as a major catalyst and arbiter of women’s’ roles and continues to influence them today. My current work is made as a reaction to these confines. By detaching ourselves from capitalist drives to get ahead and paying more attention to the principles of unconscious guidance, inclusion, patience and instinctive action towards compassion, we can find balance in a destructive patriarchal system. Painting allows me to explore the human condition and gives way to a new world of symbolic refuge.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Derek Walcott
Half my friends are dead.
I will make you new ones, said earth
No, give me them back, as they were, instead,
with faults and all, I cried.
Tonight I can snatch their talk
from the faint surf’s drone
through the canes, but I cannot walk
on the moonlit leaves of ocean
down that white road alone,
or float with the dreaming motion
of owls leaving earth’s load.
O earth, the number of friends you keep
exceeds those left to be loved.
The sea-canes by the cliff flash green and silver;
they were the seraph lances of my faith,
but out of what is lost grows something stronger
that has the rational radiance of stone,
enduring moonlight, further than despair,
strong as the wind, that through dividing canes
American Art – Part VI of VI: Christopher Mir
In the words of one critic, “Christopher Mir’s paintings present a world populated by mythic figures, creatures, machines, and fragments of ambiguous forms. These elements are often positioned within idealized landscapes in dream-like circumstances. Mir’s paintings invite us to experience a series of paradoxical relationships and unsettling juxtapositions. His figures and landscapes are drawn from specific sources yet remain anonymous; his painting style is relatively tight and refined, but his works are emotionally evocative and resonant. Mir’s narratives are equally complex and replete with provocative dichotomies such as, the mystical versus the physical, the spiritual versus the secular, and the primal versus the futuristic.”