American Art – Part I of III: Robert Standish
Artist Statement (partial): “My work mirrors individuals’ private moments of introspection. I find myself compelled to capture the moments when a strong desire and need to feel comfortable in one’s own skin are present. Similarly, I want to capture a person’s attempt at reconnecting or discovering some form of greater magic and the candid instant when a person reveals how far he or she feels from that magic.”
A Poem for Today
By Anne Sexton
By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color—no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I remember best is that
the door to your room was
the door to mine.
Died 24 November 1957 – Diego Rivera, a Mexican artist famous for painting murals, including the Detroit Industry Murals that depict work at the Ford Motor Company, two of which appear below.
From the Music Archives: Scott Joplin
“Because it has such a ragged movement. It suggests something like that.” – Scott Joplin, American composer, pianist, and “The King of Ragtime,” who was born 24 November 1868.
In the words of one historian, “By laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and, arguably, the universe, (Spinoza) came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. His magnum opus, the posthumous ‘Ethics,’ in which he opposed Descartes’ mind–body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy’s most important thinkers.” According to another historian, In the ‘Ethics,’ “Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely.” Finally, philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel insisted that “You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”
Some quotes from the work of Baruch Spinoza:
“The highest activity a human being can attain is learning for understanding, because to understand is to be free.”
“I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion.”
“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.”
“The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure…you are above everything distressing.”
“Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare.”
“Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”
“I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”
“The more clearly you understand yourself and your emotions, the more you become a lover of what is.”
“There is no hope unmingled with fear, and no fear unmingled with hope.”
“The greatest secret of monarchic rule…is to keep men deceived and to cloak in the specious name of religion the fear by which they must be checked, so that they will fight for slavery as they would for salvation, and will think it not shameful, but a most honorable achievement, to give their life and blood that one man may have a ground for boasting.”
“Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.”
“I would warn you that I do not attribute to nature either beauty or deformity, order or confusion. Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly, well-ordered or confused.”
“Pride is pleasure arising from a man’s thinking too highly of himself.”
“Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”
“Nothing in nature is by chance… Something appears to be chance only because of our lack of knowledge.”
“None are more taken in by flattery than the proud, who wish to be the first and are not.”
“He who seeks to regulate everything by law is more likely to arouse vices than to reform them. It is best to grant what cannot be abolished, even though it be in itself harmful. How many evils spring from luxury, envy, avarice, drunkenness and the like, yet these are tolerated because they cannot be prevented by legal enactments.”
“He alone is free who lives with free consent under the entire guidance of reason”
“Those who know the true use of money, and regulate the measure of wealth according to their needs, live contented with few things.”
“Nature offers nothing that can be called this man’s rather than another’s; but under nature everything belongs to all.”
“Things which are accidentally the causes either of hope or fear are called good or evil omens.”
“In proportion as we endeavor to live according to the guidance of reason, shall we strive as much as possible to depend less on hope, to liberate ourselves from fear, to rule fortune, and to direct our actions by the sure counsels of reason.”
“Men are mistaken in thinking themselves free; their opinion is made up of consciousness of their own actions, and ignorance of the causes by which they are determined.”
“Those who wish to seek out the cause of miracles, and to understand the things of nature as philosophers, and not to stare at them in astonishment like fools, are soon considered heretical and impious, and proclaimed as such by those whom the mob adores as the interpreters of nature and the gods. For these men know that, once ignorance is put aside, that wonderment would be taken away, which is the only means by which their authority is preserved.”
“It is certain that seditions, wars, and contempt or breach of the laws are not so much to be imputed to the wickedness of the subjects, as to the bad state of the dominion.”
“The idea of choice is easily debased if one forgets that the aim is to have chosen successfully, not to be endlessly choosing.” – George Trow, Jr., American essayist, novelist, playwright, media critic, and author of “Within the Context of No Context,” an essay on television and its effect on American culture, who died 24 November 2006.
A few quotes from the work of George Trow, Jr.:
“The work of television is to establish false contexts and to chronicle the unraveling of existing contexts; finally, to establish the context of no-context and to chronicle it.”
“Soon it will be achieved. The lie of television has been that there are contexts to which television will grant an access. Since lies last, usually, no more than one generation, television will re-form around the idea that television itself is a context to which television will grand access.”
“Wonder was the grace of the country. Any action could be justified by that: the wonder it was rooted in. Period followed period, and finally the wonder was that things could be built so big. Bridges, skyscrapers, fortunes, all having a life first in the marketplace, still drew on the force of wonder. But then a moment’s quiet. What was it now that was built so big? Only the marketplace itself. Could there be wonder in that? The size of the con?”
A Second Poem for Today
By Valerie Wetlaufer
At the age of nine, Pa drove me
to the river. The pastor & deacons
awaited. I donned a white robe,
of my fresh nubs.
Father Jonas reached beneath me,
placed a hand over my nose & mouth.
He pushed me hard until my feet released
& rose to the surface, like a corpse.
I cried afterward, cold & clammy,
wet hair plaited back.
All the men thought I was full
of the Holy Ghost.
In the words of one writer, “Gernot Kissel, born 1939 in Worms on the Rhine, Germany, was an Engineer and Architect. A self taught painter, he started painting at 18 and has been painting ever since. He sadly passed away in 2008, but his powerful work will be living on.”
From the American History Archives: Texas Rangers
24 November 1835 – The Texas Provincial Government authorizes the creation of a horse-mounted police force called the Texas Rangers (which is now the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety).
A Third Poem for Today
By Jack Gilbert
I never thought Michiko would come back
after she died. But if she did, I knew
it would be as a lady in a long white dress.
It is strange that she has returned
as somebody’s dalmation. I meet
the man walking her on a leash
almost every week. He says good morning
and I stoop down to calm her. He said
once that she was never like that with
other people. Sometimes she is tethered
on thier lawn when I go by. If nobody
is around, I sit on the grass. When she
finally quiets, she puts her head in my lap
and we watch each other’s eyes as I whisper
in her soft ears. She cares nothing about
the mystery. She likes it best when
I touch her head and tell her small
things about my days and our friends.
That makes her happy the way it always did.
Died 24 November 1973 – John Neihardt, an American poet, writer, and author of “Black Elk Speaks.” In the words of one critic, Neihardt
“relates the story of Black Elk, an Oglala Lakota medicine man. Black Elk spoke in Lakota and Black Elk’s son, Ben Black Elk, who was present during the talks, translated his father’s words into English.
Neihardt made notes during these talks which he later used as the basis for his book.”
Some quotes from “Black Elk Speaks”:
“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.”
“You have noticed that the truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. When people are already in despair, maybe the laughing face is better for them; and when they feel too good and are too sure of being safe, maybe the weeping face is better for them to see.”
“I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream . . . the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered.”
“I did not see anything [New York 1886] to help my people. I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”
“It is hard to follow one great vision in this world of darkness and of many changing shadows. Among those men get lost.”
“When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the west, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greenier and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm.”
“It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.”
“And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.”
“But now that I can see it all as from a lonely hilltop, I know it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man too weak to use it; of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds, and now is withered; and of a people’s dream that died in bloody snow.”
Musings in Autumn: Loren Eiseley
“It is a commonplace of all religious thought, even the most primitive, that the man seeking visions and insight must go apart from his fellows and live for a time in the wilderness.” – “The Judgment of the Birds”
American Art – Part II of III: Ron Sanders
In the words of one art historian, painter Ron Sanders (born 1966) “is a Signature Member of the Paint America Association and the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society and an Associate Member of the Oil Painters of America. The winner of numerous national and regional awards and honors, the artist’s work hangs in private and public collections throughout the United States, including the Indiana State Museum Collection.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“As Children Know,”
By Jimmy Santiago Baca
Elm branches radiate green heat,
blackbirds stiffly strut across fields.
Beneath bedroom wood floor, I feel earth—
bread in an oven that slowly swells,
simmering my Navajo blanket thread-crust
as white-feathered and corn-tasseled
Corn Dancers rise in a line, follow my calf,
vanish in a rumple and surface at my knee-cliff,
chanting. Wearing shagged buffalo headgear,
Buffalo Dancer chases Deer Woman across
Sleeping Leg mountain. Branches of wild rose
trees rattle seeds. Deer Woman fades into hills
of beige background. Red Bird
of my heart thrashes wildly after her.
What a stupid man I have been!
How good to let imagination go,
step over worrisome events,
those hacked logs
in the driveway.
Let decisions go!
Let them blow
like school children’s papers
against the fence,
rattling in the afternoon wind.
This Red Bird
of my heart thrashes within the tidy appearance
I offer the world,
topples what I erect, snares what I set free,
dashes what I’ve put together,
indulges in things left unfinished,
and my world is left, as children know,
left as toys after dark in the sandbox.
In the words of one writer, “Sergio Lopez, born in 1983, is a graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco – and is an exemplary painter in a variety of mediums. His artistic knowledge ballooned when he discovered his love of oil painting and charcoal drawing. He filled sketchbook after sketchbook with observations from life as well as drawings from his imagination. The Golden Age illustrators, Bravura painters, contemporary artists, concept designers, graffiti writers, and photographers have been some of his strongest influences in his pursuit of painting. He continues to study by visiting museums and observing the Great Masters, which he strives to learn lessons of beauty from.”