November Offerings – Part XXIX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: Erin Gergen Halls

Artist Statement: “Two of my greatest loves are drawing and realism. Colored pencils have allowed me to indulge in both. I find the medium rich with challenge, thrilling, and an exhilarating way to express myself. Realism with colored pencil requires strong draftsmanship skills, confidence in problem solving and a love for detail. As a newer fine art medium, I am unable to emulate the processes of the Old Masters. Technique must be learned through trial and error. I am an avid reader and art book collector and have spent years studying and gazing at images that have engaged and inspired me. I am particularly drawn to women artists, past and present.”





A Poem for Today

“Chain of Women,”
By Annie Finch

These are the seasons Persephone promised
as she turned on her heel—
the ones that darken, till green no longer
bandages what I feel.

Now touches of gold stipple the branches,
promising weeks of time
to fade through, finding the footprints
she left as she turned to climb.

Below – Valetine Cameron Prinsep: “At the First Touch of Winter Summer Fades Away”

Musings in Autumn: Wallace Stegner

“Salt is added to dried rose petals with the perfume and spices, when we store them away in covered jars, the summers of our past.” – “Angle of Repose”

Here is how one critic describes the work of Spanish artist Miguel Guia: “Miguel Guía is a sculptor with great modeling skill. His practical character can be clearly perceived in the creations shown in this collection. His sculptures, far from being static, give us a sensation of dynamic balance, based on strengths in a correct relation.”





A Second Poem for Today

From “A Shadow of the Night,”
By Thomas Bailey Aldrich

What is lovely never dies,
But passes into other loveliness,
Star-dust, or sea-foam, flower or winged air.

Below – Rhonda Myers: “Rolling Ocean Waves”

German painter Gabriel Vormstein (born 1974) lives and works in Berlin.

A Third Poem for Today

“The 5:32,”
By Phyllis McGinley

She said, If tomorrow my world were torn in two,

Blacked out, dissolved, I think I would remember

(As if transfixed in unsurrendering amber)

This hour best of all the hours I knew:

When cars came backing into the shabby station,

Children scuffing the seats, and the women driving

With ribbons around their hair, and the trains arriving,

And the men getting off with tired but practiced motion.

Yes, I would remember my life like this, she said:

Autumn, the platform red with Virginia creeper,

And a man coming toward me, smiling, the evening paper

Under his arm, and his hat pushed back on his head;

And wood smoke lying like haze on the quiet town,

And dinner waiting, and the sun not yet gone down.

From the Music Archives – Part I of II: George Harrison

A Fourth Poem for Today

“In the Suburbs,”
By Louis Simpson

There’s no way out.
You were born to waste your life.
You were born to this middleclass life
As others before you
Were born to walk in procession
To the temple, singing.

Below – Jason Brockert: “Suburbs #42”

Musings in Autumn: Roman Krznaric

“’Know thyself,’ advised Socrates. Following this credo requires more than gazing, like Narcissus, at our own reflections. We must balance introspective searching with a more ‘outrospective’ attitude toward life. To discover ourselves, we must step outside ourselves and find out how other people think, live, and look at the world. Empathy is one of our greatest hopes for doing so.” – “How Should We Live?: Great Ideas from the Past for Everyday Life”

From the American History Archives: The Sand Creek Massacre

29 November 1864 – A group of Colorado volunteers under the command of U.S. Army Colonel John Chivington attack and massacre a group of peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians camped near Sand Creek in Colorado. Here is how one historian describes the event: “In what can only be considered an act of treachery, Chivington moved his troops to the plains, and on November 29, they attacked the unsuspecting Native Americans, scattering men, women, and children and hunting them down. The casualties reflect the one-sided nature of the fight. Nine of Chivington’s men were killed; 148 of Black Kettle’s followers were slaughtered, more than half of them women and children. The Colorado volunteers returned and killed the wounded, mutilated the bodies, and set fire to the village.”
Here is the testimony of Kit Carson: “Jis to think of that dog Chivington and his dirty hounds, up thar at Sand Creek. His men shot down squaws, and blew the brains out of little innocent children. You call sich soldiers Christians, do ye? And Indians savages? What der yer ‘spose our Heavenly Father, who made both them and us, thinks of these things? I tell you what, I don’t like a hostile red skin any more than you do. And when they are hostile, I’ve fought ’em, hard as any man. But I never yet drew a bead on a squaw or papoose, and I despise the man who would.”

Below – A depiction of one scene at Sand Creek by witness Howling Wolf; Colonel John Chivington; Black Kettle; Kit Carson.





A Fifth Poem for Today

“The History Teacher,”
By Billy Collins

Trying to protect his students’ innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
‘How far is it from here to Madrid?’
‘What do you call the matador’s hat?’

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

Dutch painter Paul Boswijk (born 1959) was educated at the Art Academy Minerva in Groningen.







From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Ludwig van Beethoven

A Sixth Poem for Today

“After the Industrial Revolution, All Things Happen At Once,”
By Robert Bly

Now we enter a strange world,
where the Hessian Christmas
Still goes on, and Washington has not
reached the other shore;
The Whiskey Boys
Are gathering again on the meadows
of Pennsylvania
And the Republic is still sailing
on the open sea.

I saw a black angel in Washington dancing
On a barge, saying, Let us now divide
kennel dogs and hunting dogs;
Henry Cabot Lodge, in New York,
Talking of sugar cane in Cuba; Ford,
In Detroit, drinking mother’s milk;
Henry Cabot Lodge, saying,
“Remember the Maine!”
Ford, saying, “History is bunk!”
And Wilson saying,
“What is good for General Motors … ”

Who is it, singing?
Don’t you hear singing?
It is the dead of Cripple Creek;
Coxey’s army like turkeys
are singing from the tops of trees!
And the Whiskey Boys are drunk
outside Philadelphia.

Below – A tax collector is tarred and feathered by anti-tax frontiersmen during the Whiskey Rebellion.

Iranian painter Maral Esfahani has both a B.A. and an M.A. in Visual Art from Tehran Fine Art University.









A Seventh Poem for Today

From “Sappho,”
By James Wright

Love is a cliff,
A clear, cold curve of stone, mottled by stars,
Smirched by the morning, carved by the dark sea
Till stars and dawn and waves can slash no more,
Till the rock’s heart is found and shaped again.

American Art – Part II of III: Rob Harrell

Artist Statement: “For the past twelve years, I’ve worked as a fine artist, cartoonist, and freelance illustrator.
My figurative paintings are currently represented by the Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, TX, and the Hespe Gallery in San Francisco, CA.”








An Eighth Poem for Today

“Walt Whitman at Bear Mountain,”
By Louis Simpson

. . . life which does not give the preference to any other life, of any
previous period, which therefore prefers its own existence . . .
Ortega y Gasset

Neither on horseback nor seated,
But like himself, squarely on two feet,
The poet of death and lilacs
Loafs by the footpath. Even the bronze looks alive
Where it is folded like cloth. And he seems friendly.

“Where is the Mississippi panorama
And the girl who played the piano?
Where are you, Walt?
The Open Road goes to the used-car lot.

“Where is the nation you promised?
These houses build of wood sustain
Colossal snows,
And the light above the street is sick to death.

“As for the people—see how they neglect you!
Only a poet pauses to read the inscription.”

“I am here,” he answered.
“It seems you have found me out.
Yet did I not warn you that it was Myself
I advertised? Were my words not sufficiently plain?

I gave no prescriptions,
And those who have taken my moods for prophecies
Mistake the matter.”
Then, vastly amused—“Why do you reproach me?
I freely confess I am wholly disreputable.
Yet I am happy, because you found me out.”
A crocodile in wrinkled metal loafing . . .

Then all the realtors,
Pickpockets, salesmen and the actors performing
Official scenarios,
Turned a deaf ear, for they had contracted
American dreams.

But the man who keeps a store on a lonely road,
And the housewife who knows she’s dumb,
And the earth, are relieved.

All that grave weight of America
Cancelled! Like Greece and Rome.
The future in ruins!
The castles, the prisons, the cathedrals
Unbuilding, and roses
Blossoming from the stones that are not there . . .

The clouds are lifting from the high Sierras,
The Bay mists clearing,
And the angel in the gate, the flowering plum,
Dances like Italy, imagining red.

Below – Walt Whitman Statue in Bear Mountain, New York.

Musings in Autumn: Norman Maclean

“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.” – “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories”

Below – Sunrise: Walden Pond; Nantucket; Mississippi River; Pike’s Peak; San Francisco.


Tom Sawyer RV Park



American Art – Part III of III: Ryan Swallow

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter Ryan Swallow: “Ryan Swallow paints hauntingly beautiful figures, expressing emotion through the figure, causing anyone who gazes long enough to see a piece of themselves. Ryan Swallow, a self-taught painter who currently resides in Arizona, has produced more than 100 paintings in his 18 years as a professional painter.”






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