American Art – Part I of V: Wanda Choate
In the words of one writer, “Wanda Choate has exhibited in many shows and received top honors, including OPA Awards of Excellence in 06, 07, 08, Best of Show in the Central South. She is a Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America, and American Woman Artists. She continues to create still-life, figurative and landscape works from her studio, in Springfield Tennessee.”
A Poem for Today
By Thomas Hood
No sun—no moon!
No morn—no noon—
No sky—no earthly view—
No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no “t’other side the way”—
No end to any Row—
No indications where the Crescents go—
No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
No courtesies for showing ‘em—
No knowing ‘em!
No traveling at all—no locomotion,
No inkling of the way—no notion—
“No go”—by land or ocean—
No mail—no post—
No news from any foreign coast—
No park—no ring—no afternoon gentility—
No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds –
Below – George Pauwels: “Foggy Day in November”
“Romance takes place in the middle distance. Romance is looking in at yourself through a window clouded with dew. Romance means leaving things out: where life grunts and shuffles, romance only sighs.” – Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, environmental activist, and author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” who was born 18 November 1939.
Some quotes from the work of Margaret Atwood:
“Love blurs your vision; but after it recedes, you can see more clearly than ever. It’s like the tide going out, revealing whatever’s been thrown away and sunk: broken bottles, old gloves, rusting pop cans, nibbled fishbodies, bones. This is the kind of thing you see if you sit in the darkness with open eyes, not knowing the future.”
“War is what happens when language fails.”
“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance; you have to work at it.”
“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”
“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”
“When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too—leave them behind. You don’t yet know about the habit they have, of coming back.
Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.”
“If it is true that one of the greatest pleasures of gardening lies in looking forward, then the planning of next year’s beds and borders must be one of the most agreeable occupations in the gardener’s calendar. This should make October and November particularly pleasant months, for then we may begin to clear our borders, to cut down those sodden and untidy stalks, to dig up and increase our plants, and to move them to other positions where they will show up to greater effect. People who are not gardeners always say that the bare beds of winter are uninteresting; gardeners know better, and take even a certain pleasure in the neatness of the newly dug, bare, brown earth.” – Vita Sackville-West
A Second Poem for Today
By Sandra Lee
From canvas cloth enchantments call,
brushed crimson black and brown.
Fairytale fames November fall,
coconut creamy crown.
The morning sun wets on wet pink,
it calms magenta peeks of wink,
the morning sun
the morning sun,
firing up sugar dreams of ink.
Wood-smoke perfumes a fiery frame,
Romantic rainbow tints of flame,
sable reddened foils.
Strokes of autumn on linen sketch,
thy golden sculpts of lemon etch,
strokes of autumn
strokes of autumn,
o’er keen horizon’s amber stretch.
Warm mosaic sunrise swatches,
dark cobalt’s out to light.
Purple plums and stardust blotches,
with ochres blended bright.
Thy falling leaves of sleepy sap,
dancing before white winter’s nap,
thy falling leaves
thy falling leaves,
oh graceful daubs of brushes snap.
“an axiom of sorcery: If you come to know yourself
no one else can know you” – Rodney Hall, Australian author and poet, who was born 18 November 1935.
[“An Ancient Tree Exploding in the Night”]
An Ancient Tree Exploding in the Night:
the crack of centuries disturbs a neighborhood of sleep
a treasurehouse of daylight bursts apart
leaves flaring instant as a school of fish caught
in one brief blade of sun – a single
bodyshape of heat drawing the active dark together
as a sigh
– while here you lie
inert beneath light’s nervous fingers
American Art – Part II of V: Gail Pidduck
”As an art student in Utah I often wished that I could show the California I knew to fellow students. California to them was urban, Los Angeles or the Bay Area. To me it was fields of zinnias or corn on foggy summer mornings. I now have the opportunity to paint my California. It is my desire to have my paintings help viewers see the importance of our rural treasure and the people who work within it.”
“Across the border on the far island,
You stepped into the waters with me
And when you disrobed you lit the stars
And the stars and my eyes kissed your skin
Your slender legs, columns, tilting
Toward heaven, in the age of Helen,
Touched the water and the sky.
I saw the milky way that night.” – From “Sineann,” by Sean Mac Falls, Irish poet, who was born 18 November 1957.
“I Hear All The Outlawed World”
I hear all the outlawed world in harmony,
The marshling stalks the green and gaunt
Destroyers who heed not sparkling deserts
Charged to the gill, nor candles pitching down
Like doom. I note the scale of fossils
In cloud covered peaks, record
The seemly count of bodies by square root
And irrational number, I am witness
Bound to bounty to all who blaze in gray
And shallow grooves seeding their ends
In strikes on the ripe and smoldering fields.
I see all the outlawed world in harmony,
Barking wood bracing by the bud,
Where runs of blue, bury in vain
Down slash of mountain forest, cascading
Into august, rising after the fall,
As do kind-killers blasting from shells
To die as snails creeping under flower,
Who saw the past wasting away
In filed futures, slipping by blades in neck
Of wood, sightless as gallows of trees
Try murder each time they make their leaves.
I know all the outlawed world in harmony,
By seamless song of stuttering gulls,
As in conches, waves of providence,
Cell from the center, beating musseled shoals,
Where wailing ghosts and wing-tips point
Printed nails to the silent capes,
And bumble hairs comb round the broken yokes
Stirring streams of babble baited
By flowering psalms, engaging arms to prey
On tales told by the rood and drown
In eyes turning like sands on the sea.
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Hank Ballard
Born 18 November 1927 – Hank Ballard, an American singer-songwriter and member of The Midnighters.
From the Art Archives: Louis-Jacques Daguerre
Born 18 November 1787 – Louis-Jacques Daguerre, a French artist, physicist, and inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography.
Below – Louis-Jacques Daguerre; “Boulevard du Temple,” taken by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris, includes the earliest known candid photograph of a person. The image shows a street, but because of the over ten-minute exposure time the moving traffic does not appear. At the lower left, however, a man apparently having his boots polished, and the bootblack polishing them, were motionless enough for their images to be captured.
A Third Poem for Today
“Shoveling Snow With Buddha,”
By Billy Collins
In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.
Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.
Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?
But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.
This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.
He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.
All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.
After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?
Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Danny Whitten
Died 18 November 1972 – Danny Whitten, an American singer-songwriter and guitarist best known for his work with Neil Young’s backing band Crazy Horse.
From the Family Values Archives: William Tell
18 November 1307 – William Tell shoots an apple off his son’s head,
I wish that I could have an opportunity to demonstrate my marksmanship in this challenging way. It fact, I wish that I could have three opportunities.
American Art – Part III of V: Man Ray
Died 18 November 1976 – Man Ray, an American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris.
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Johann Sebastian Bach
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust, French novelist, critic, essayist, and author of the multi-volume “In Search of Lost Time,” who died on 18 November 1922.
Some quotes from Marcel Proust:
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
“Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”
“A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.”
“Everything great in the world comes from neurotics. They alone have founded our religions and composed our masterpieces.”
“Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees.”
“Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”
“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.”
“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”
“If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
“As long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost and science can never regress.”
“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them.”
“It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom, whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body.”
“Love is space and time measured by the heart.”
“It is not because other people are dead that our affection for them grows faint, it is because we ourselves are dying.”
“In theory one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed. So it is with Time in one’s life.”
“It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions.”
“Let us leave pretty women to men devoid of imagination.”
“The only paradise is paradise lost.”
“We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison.”
“Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible.”
“Lies are essential to humanity. They are perhaps as important as the pursuit of pleasure and moreover are dictated by that pursuit.”
“The bonds that unite another person to our self exist only in our mind.”
“The charms of the passing woman are generally in direct proportion to the swiftness of her passing.”
“We become moral when we are unhappy.
“Your soul is a dark forest. But the trees are of a particular species, they are genealogical trees.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Molly Peacock
What if we got outside ourselves and there
really was an outside out there, not just
our insides turned inside out? What if there
really were a you beyond me, not just
the waves off my own fire, like those waves off
the backyard grill you can see the next yard through,
though not well — just enough to know that off
to the right belongs to someone else, not you.
What if, when we said I love you, there were
a you to love as there is a yard beyond
to walk past the grill and get to? To endure
the endless walk through the self, knowing through a bond
that has no basis (for ourselves are all we know)
is altruism: not giving, but coming to know
someone is there through the wavy vision
of the self’s heat, love become a decision.
“I am one of those unfortunates to whom death is less hideous than explanations.” – Wyndham Lewis, English painter and author, who was born 18 November 1882.
A Fifth Poem for Today
“November for Beginners,”
By Rita Dove
Snow would be the easy
way out—that softening
sky like a sigh of relief
at finally being allowed
to yield. No dice.
We stack twigs for burning
in glistening patches
but the rain won’t give.
So we wait, breeding
mood, making music
of decline. We sit down
in the smell of the past
and rise in a light
that is already leaving.
We ache in secret,
“How fragile we are under the sheltering sky. Behind the sheltering sky is a vast dark universe, and we’re just so small.” – Paul Bowles, an American expatriate composer, writer, translator, and author of “The Sheltering Sky” (1949), set in what was known as French North Africa, who died 18 November 1999.
According to one historian, “In 1947 Bowles settled in Tangier, Morocco, and his wife, Jane Bowles followed in 1948. Except for winters spent in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) during the early 1950s, Tangier was his home for the remaining 52 years of his life.”
Some quotes from the work of Paul Bowles:
“I’ve always wanted to get as far as possible from the place where I was born. Far both geographically and spiritually. To leave it behind … I feel that life is very short and the world is there to see and one should know as much about it as possible. One belongs to the whole world, not just one part of it.”
“Whereas the tourist generally hurries back home at the end of a few weeks or months, the traveler belonging no more to one place than to the next, moves slowly over periods of years, from one part of the earth to another. Indeed, he would have found it difficult to tell, among the many places he had lived, precisely where it was he had felt most at home.”
“Another important difference between tourist and traveler is that the former accepts his own civilization without question; not so the traveler, who compares it with the others, and rejects those elements he finds not to his liking.”
“Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”
“Security is a false God. Begin to make sacrifices to it and you are lost.”
“The soul is the weariest part of the body.”
“Immediately when you arrive in Sahara, for the first or the tenth time, you notice the stillness. An incredible, absolute silence prevails outside the towns; and within, even in busy places like the markets, there is a hushed quality in the air, as if the quiet were a conscious force which, resenting the intrusion of sound, minimizes and disperses sound straightaway. Then there is the sky, compared to which all other skies seem fainthearted efforts. Solid and luminous, it is always the focal point of the landscape. At sunset, the precise, curved shadow of the earth rises into it swiftly from the horizon, cutting into light section and dark section. When all daylight is gone, and the space is thick with stars, it is still of an intense and burning blue, darkest directly overhead and paling toward the earth, so that the night never really goes dark.
You leave the gate of the fort or town behind, pass the camels lying outside, go up into the dunes, or out onto the hard, stony plain and stand awhile alone. Presently, you will either shiver and hurry back inside the walls, or you will go on standing there and let something very peculiar happen to you, something that everyone who lives there has undergone and which the French call ‘le bapteme de solitude.’ It is a unique sensation, and it has nothing to do with loneliness, for loneliness presupposes memory. Here in this wholly mineral landscape lighted by stars like flares, even memory disappears…A strange, and by no means pleasant, process of reintegration begins inside you, and you have the choice of fighting against it, and insisting on remaining the person you have always been, or letting it take its course. For no one who has stayed in the Sahara for a while is quite the same as when he came.
…Perhaps the logical question to ask at this point is: Why go? The answer is that when a man has been there and undergone the baptism of solitude he can’t help himself. Once he has been under the spell of the vast luminous, silent country, no other place is quite strong enough for him, no other surroundings can provide the supremely satisfying sensation of existing in the midst of something that is absolute. He will go back, whatever the cost in time or money, for the absolute has no price.”
“Everyone is isolated from everyone else. The concept of society is like a cushion to protect us from the knowledge of that isolation. A fiction that serves as an anesthetic.”
“‘When I was young … Before I was twenty, I mean, I used to think that life was a thing that kept gaining impetus, it would get richer and deeper each year. You kept learning more, getting wiser, having more insight, going further into the truth’ – she hesitated.
Port laughed abruptly. – ‘And now you know it’s not like that. Right? It’s more like smoking a cigarette. The first few puffs it tasted wonderful, and you don’t even think of its ever being used up. Then you begin taking it for granted. Suddenly you realize it’s nearly burned down to the end. And then’s when you’re conscious of the bitter taste.’”
“The only thing that makes life worth living is the possibility of experiencing now and then a perfect moment. And perhaps even more than that, it’s having the ability to recall such moments in their totality, to contemplate them like jewels.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Ricardo Reis
(Translated by Edouard Roditi)
Of the gardens of Adonis, Lydia, I love
Most of all those fugitive roses
That on the day they are born,
That very day, must also die.
Eternal, for them, the light of day:
They’re born when the sun is already high
And die before Apollo’s course
Across the visible sky is run.
We too, of our lives, must make one day:
We never know, my Lydia, nor want
To know of nights before or after
The little while that we may last.
American Art – Part IV of V: Francys Flanagan
In the words of one writer, “Francys Flanagan is a painter who is driven by a passion for self-expression through art. Her works are often noted for their unique style, elegance and technique. Francys paints with a style that blends precise realism with impressionism. Her use of vibrant colors and soft edges make her work an excellent choice for a wide range of projects and purposes.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Ricardo Reis
(Translated by Edouard Roditi)
To be great, be whole: nothing that’s you
Should you exaggerate or exclude.
In each thing, be all. Give all you are
In the least you ever do.
The whole moon, because it rides so high,
Is reflected in each pool.
American Art – Part V of V: Deborah Brown
Artist Statement: “I am interested in the visible world and how we view it through the lens of our culture. My subjects have included urban and pastoral landscapes, birds, flowers, undersea environments, and dogs that I have cared for as a volunteer in a shelter. I have painted ambiguous encounters between animals and humans that result from the collision of the natural world with our technological conquest.”