American Art – Part I of V: Tom Fleming
A Poem for Today
“a girl named jack,”
By Jacqueline Woodson
‘Good enough name for me,’ my father said
the day I was born.
‘Don’t see why
she can’t have it, too.’
But the women said no.
My mother first.
Then each aunt, pulling my pink blanket back
patting the crop of thick curls
tugging at my new toes
touching my cheeks.
‘We won’t have a girl named Jack,’ my mother said.
And my father’s sisters whispered,
‘A boy named Jack was bad enough.’
But only so my mother could hear.
‘Name a girl Jack, my father said,
and she can’t help but
grow up strong.
Raise her right,’ my father said,
‘and she’ll make that name her own.
Name a girl Jack
and people will look at her twice,’ my father said.
‘For no good reason but to ask if her parents
were crazy,’ my mother said.
And back and forth it went until I was Jackie
and my father left the hospital mad.
My mother said to my aunts,
‘Hand me that pen,’ wrote
‘Jacqueline’ where it asked for a name.
Jacqueline, just in case
someone thought to drop the ‘ie.’
Jacqueline, just in case
I grew up and wanted something a little bit longer
and further away from
Musings in December: George Gordon Byron
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more.”
Died 9 September 1971 – Sergey Konenkov, a Russian sculptor often called “the Russian Rodin.”
“I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty… but I am too busy thinking about myself.” – Edith Sitwell, English poet and critic, who died on 9 December 1964.
Some quotes from the work of Edith Sitwell:
“The poet speaks to all men of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten.”
“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”
“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”
“The trouble with most Englishwomen is that they will dress as if they had been a mouse in a previous incarnation they do not want to attract attention.”
“A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed keeping rabbits.”
“Good taste is the worst vice ever invented.”
“Hot water is my native element. I was in it as a baby, and I have never seemed to get out of it ever since.”
“I am an unpopular electric eel in a pool of catfish.”
“I am one of those unhappy persons who inspire bores to the greatest flights of art.”
“I wish the government would put a tax on pianos for the incompetent.”
“Poetry is the deification of reality.”
“The aim of flattery is to soothe and encourage us by assuring us of the truth of an opinion we have already formed about ourselves.”
“The public will believe anything, so long as it is not founded on truth.”
Musings in December: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Indian Art – Part I of II: Asit Sarkar
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of painter Asit Sarkar (born 1962): “Women have a special place in his works; they are sensitive beings with a soul who reach out to the viewer in terms of appeal and touch his heart strings. They spread a feeling of love and happiness and uplift even the darkest of moods.”
Musings in December: Christopher Paolini
“The sea is emotion incarnate. It loves, hates, and weeps. It defies all attempts to capture it with words and rejects all shackles. No matter what you say about it, there is always that which you can’t.”
Below – Kim Leanne: “Breaking Waves at Rainbow Beach
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka
9 December 1842 – Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka’s opera “Ruslan and Lyudmila,” based on a poem by Alexander Pushkin, premieres in St. Petersburg.
“Ruslan and Lyudmila” is best known for its stirring overture:
American Art – Part II of V: Mark Horst
Artist Statement: “I paint as a way to see and to know the world. Yet the world is never finished and the joy of seeing it is never complete—and so my painting points to the fleeting, the glimpsed, to the life that is always present and so difficult to touch.
I paint the way I see—which is always incomplete and in process. The more I look, the more there is to observe. The world opens up and flowers; the mud takes form.
I paint the figure as an invitation to explore the world and ourselves—our light, our shadows, our incompleteness. I’m trying to create a space for us to inhabit and give us time with questions that are not meant to be answered.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Joan Armatrading
“In America, you watch TV and think that’s totally unreal, then you step outside and it’s just the same.”- Joan Armatrading, Saint Kitts-born British singer, songwriter, guitarist, and three-time Grammy Award nominee, who was born 9 December 1950.
Musings in December: Rachel Carson
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Indian Art – Part II of II: Vilas Tonape
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Vilas Tonape: “Working in both figurative and non-representational modes, Tonape focuses on nature. His paintings are ‘melodies’ orchestrated by the artist, rooted in the visual rhythms of gesture and color, recorded in the subject matter. ‘Painting to me is music for the eyes, conceived without conscious articulations, sentiments or statement,’ says Tonape. ‘They reflect my response to nature. They are conceived by an abstract, intangible sensing of nature that erupts into spontaneous imagery.’”
“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.” – John Milton, English poet, polemicist, scholar, civil servant, and author of “Paradise Lost” and “Aereopagitica,” who was born on 9 December 1608.
Some quotes from the work of John Milton:
“I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. ”
“The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”
“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”
“He that has light within his own clear breast May sit in the centre, and enjoy bright day: But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts Benighted walks under the mid-day sun; Himself his own dungeon.”
“He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.”
“He who reigns within himself and rules passions, desires, and fears is more than a king.”
“For what can war, but endless war, still breed?”
“The stars, that nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps with everlasting oil, give due light to the misled and lonely traveller.”
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
“No man who knows aught, can be so stupid to deny that all men naturally were born free.”
“None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.”
“The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past, in order to strengthen his character thereby.”
“Though we take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet one jewel left; you cannot bereave him of his covetousness.”
“True it is that covetousness is rich, modesty starves.”
“Truth never comes into the world but like a bastard, to the ignominy of him that brought her birth.”
Musings in December: Charles de Lint
“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”
American Art – Part III of V: Miguel Padura
A Second Poem for Today
“It sifts from Leaden Sieves,”
By Emily Dickinson
It sifts from Leaden Sieves –
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road –
It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain –
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again –
It reaches to the Fence –
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces –
It deals Celestial Vail
To Stump, and Stack – and Stem –
A Summer’s empty Room –
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them –
Musings in December: Vincent van Gogh
“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
“You see, loneliness is the price we have to pay for being born in this modern age, so full of freedom, independence, and our own egoistical selves.” – Natsume Soseki, influential Japanese novelist and author of “Kokoro” and “Botchan,” who died 9 December 1916.
Some quotes from the work of Natsume Soseki:
“You seem to be under the impression that there is a special breed of bad humans. There is no such thing as a stereotype bad man in this world. Under normal conditions, everybody is more or less good, or, at least, ordinary. But tempt them, and they may suddenly change. That is what is so frightening about men.”
“It is painfully easy to define human beings. They are beings who, for no good reason at all, create their own unnecessary suffering.”
“Like the first whiff of burning incense, or like the taste of one’s first cup of saké, there is in love that moment when all its power is felt.”
“Use your intellect to guide you, and you will end up putting people
off. Rely on your emotions, and you will forever be pushed around.
Force your will on others, and you will live in constant tension. There
is no getting around it—people are hard to live with.”
“To tell you the truth, I used to consider it a disgrace to be found ignorant by other people. But now, I find that I am not ashamed of knowing less than others, and I’m less inclined to force myself to read books. In short, I have grown old and decrepit.” “On the whole, all people are good, or at least they’re normal. The frightening thing is that they can suddenly turn bad when it comes to the crunch.”
“It is not you in particular that I distrust, but the whole of humanity.”
“No matter how fierce was the passion that gripped him, the fact is he was paralyzed, transfixed by the contemplation of his own past. Only something so momentous as to drive from his consciousness all thoughts of before and after could have propelled him forward. And with his eyes fixed on the past, he had no choice but to continue along its trajectory.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Stan Rice
Died 9 December 2002 – Stan Rice, an American painter, educator, and poet.
Musings in December: Jack London
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” – “The Call of the Wild”
A Third Poem for Today
“What’s In My Journal,”
By William Stafford
Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
Things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can’t find them. Someone’s terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine.
American Art – Part V of V: Adam Vinson