American Art – Part I of III: Paul Cadmus (1904-1999)
Artist Statement: “Well, I was always drawing. I mean, I was encouraged to draw. I was given crayons and all the usual things. The first encouragement I had other than my family, which always encouraged me, was in public school.”
“Laughter’s the nearest we ever get, or should get, to sainthood. It’s the state of grace that saves most of us from contempt.” – John Osborne, English playwright, screenwriter, actor, social critic,
and author of “Look Back in Anger,” who was born 12 December 1929.
Some quotes from the work of John Osborne:
“Why don’t we have a little game? Let’s pretend that we’re human beings, and that we’re actually alive.”
“You’re hurt because everything is changed. Jimmy is hurt because everything is the same. And neither of you can face it. Something’s gone wrong somewhere, hasn’t it?”
“Jimmy: The injustice of it is almost perfect! The wrong people going
hungry, the wrong people being loved, the wrong people dying!”
“I must say it’s pretty dreary living in the American Age – unless you’re an American of course. Perhaps all our children will be Americans.”
“I suppose people of our generation aren’t able to die for good causes any longer. We had all that done for us, in the thirties and the forties, when we were still kids. …There aren’t any good, brave causes left.”
Musings in December: Henry David Thoreau
“Nature now, like an athlete, begins to strip herself in earnest for her contest with her great antagonist Winter. In the bare trees and twigs what a display of muscle.”
“For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.” – Edvard Munch, Norwegian painter and printmaker, who was born 12 December 1863.
A Poem for Today
By Donald Justice
This poem is not addressed to you.
You may come into it briefly,
But no one will find you here, no one.
You will have changed before the poem will.
Even while you sit there, unmovable,
You have begun to vanish. And it does not matter.
The poem will go on without you.
It has the spurious glamor of certain voids.
It is not sad, really, only empty.
Once perhaps it was sad, no one knows why.
It prefers to remember nothing.
Nostalgias were peeled from it long ago.
Your type of beauty has no place here.
Night is the sky over this poem.
It is too black for stars.
And do not look for any illumination.
You neither can nor should understand what it means.
Listen, it comes with out guitar,
Neither in rags nor any purple fashion.
And there is nothing in it to comfort you.
Close your eyes, yawn. It will be over soon.
You will forget the poem, but not before
It has forgotten you. And it does not matter.
It has been most beautiful in its erasures.
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Italian painter Luigi Boriotti (born 1943): “The oil paintings of Boriotti are tales of solitude and anxiety that arise from our metropolitan environment. The images of our existence are expressed with good painting skill and invite us to reflect about the value of our behaviors.”
“He had decided to live forever or die in the attempt.” – Joseph Heller, American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and author of “Catch-22,” who died 12 December 1999.
Some quotes from the work of Joseph Heller:
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
‘That’s some catch, that Catch-22,’ he observed.
‘It’s the best there is,’ Doc Daneeka agreed.”
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
“Insanity is contagious.”
“What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused, or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, and rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to bodyguards, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.”
“[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”
“The country was in peril; he was jeopardizing his traditional rights of freedom and independence by daring to exercise them.”
“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Major Major it had been all three. Even among men lacking all distinction he inevitably stood out as a man lacking more distinction than all the rest, and people who met him were always impressed by how unimpressive he was.”
“When I look up, I see people cashing in. I don’t see heaven or saints or angels. I see people cashing in on every decent impulse and every human tragedy.”
“There’s nothing mysterious about it, He’s not working at all. He’s playing. Or else He’s forgotten all about us. That’s the kind of God you people talk about, a country bumpkin, a clumsy, bungling, brainless, conceited, uncouth hayseed. Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth decay in His divine system of Creation? What in the world was running through that warped, evil, scatological mind of His when He robbed old people of the power to control their bowel movements? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”
“Mankind is resilient: the atrocities that horrified us a week ago become acceptable tomorrow.”
“Destiny is a good thing to accept when it’s going your way. When it isn’t, don’t call it destiny; call it injustice, treachery, or simple bad luck.”
“There was no telling what people might find out once they felt free to ask whatever questions they wanted to.”
American Art – Part II of III: Frederick Childe Hassam
Frederick Childe Hassam (1859 –1935) was a prolific American Impressionist painter, noted for his urban and coastal scenes.
Below – “Late Afternoon, New York Winter”; “Washington Arch in Washington Square Park”; “Celia Thatcher’s Garden”; “August Afternoon, Appledore, Maine, 1900”; “The Avenue in the Rain”; “Summer Sunlight”; “A Back Road”; “Improvisation”; “Montauk.”
A Second Poem for Today
“How I go to the woods,”
By Mary Oliver
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.
Musings in December: Henry David Thoreau
“We sleep, and at length awake to the still reality of a winter morning. The snow lies warm as cotton or down upon the window-sill; the broadened sash and frosted panes admit a dim and private light, which enhances the snug cheer within. The stillness of the morning is impressive… From the eaves and fences hang stalactites of snow, and in the yard stand stalagmites covering some concealed core. The trees and shrubs rear white arms to the sky on every side; and where were walls and fences we see fantastic forms stretching in the frolic gambols across the dusky landscape, as if nature had strewn her fresh designs over the fields by night as models for man’s art.”
Here is one critic describing the background of sculptor Cris Pereby: “Cris Pereby born into a painter and sculptor family spent her childhood in Belgium. She was fascinated during her many museum visits by the Early Flemish painters such as Hans Memling, Jerôme Bosch, Peter Chistus, Pieter Bruegel and admired their magnificent art so delicate and full of spirituality.
She discovered later that a genius of impressionist painting , Vincent Van Gogh, lived close to her Belgium home before leaving for Paris and Arles.
Her destiny was that she should follow in his footsteps.
It is in the Paris region back in 1983 that she became self initialized in clay modelling, being inspired by the Egyptian sculpture and the media feed back of Camille Claudel. Within in a very short time she received many awards during regional exhibitions.”
Musings in December: John Muir
American Art – Part III of III: Sydney Laurence
Sydney Mortimer Laurence (1865–1940) was an American Romantic landscape painter and is widely considered one of Alaska’s most important historical artists.
Musings in December: Henry David Thoreau
“To the Indians it seemed that these Europeans hated everything in nature – the living forests and their birds and beasts, the grassy grades, the water, the soil, the air itself.” – Dee Brown, American novelist, historian, and author of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” who died 12 December 2002.
Some quotes from the work of Dee Brown:
“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”
“The white people were as thick and numerous and aimless as grasshoppers, moving always in a hurry but never seeming to get to whatever place it was they were going to.”
“Nothing lives long
Only the earth and mountains”
“Treat all men alike…. give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who is born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases. We only ask an even chance to live as other men live. We ask to be recognized as men. Let me be a free man…free to travel… free to stop…free to work…free to choose my own teachers…free to follow the religion of my Fathers…free to think and talk and act for myself.”
“The Indians knew that life was equated with the earth and its resources, that America was a paradise, and they could not comprehend why the intruders from the East were determined to destroy all that was Indian as well as America itself.”
Musings in December: Cormac McCarthy
“Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.” – “The Road”
American Art, Rocky Mountain School – part I of III: Thomas Moran
While he was a painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School, Thomas Moran (1837-1926) often featured the Rocky Mountains in his work.
Below – “View of the Rocky Mountains”; “Green River, Wyoming”; “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”; “The Mosquito Trail”; “The Teton Range”; “Tower Falls and Sulphur Mountain.”
A Third Poem for Today
“For an Absence,”
By Wendell Berry
When I cannot be with you
I will send my love (so much
is allowed to human lovers)
to watch over you in the dark —
a winged small presence
who never sleeps, however long
the night. Perhaps it cannot
protect or help, I do not know,
but it watches always, and so
you will sleep within my love
within the room within the dark.
And when, restless, you wake
and see the room palely lit
by that watching, you will think,
“It is only dawn,” and go
quiet to sleep again.
Musings in December: Gary Snyder
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
American Art, Rocky Mountain School – part II of III: Thomas Hill
Thomas Hill (1829-1908) produced many fine paintings of the California landscape, particularly in the Yosemite Valley.
Below – “Rocky Mountains: 1869”; “Grand Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite”; “View of Yosemite Valley”; “Bow River Gap at Banff on Canadian Pacific Railroad”; “Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe”; “Yosemite Valley: 1867.” “Paiute Indians in Yosemite Valley: 1867”; “Mount Shasta from Castle Lake”; “Chinese Man Tending Cattle.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Donald Justice
It’s snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers.
There is only this sound of falling, quiet and remote,
Like the memory of scales descending the white keys
Of a childhood piano—outside the window, palms!
And the heavy head of the cereus, inclining,
Soon to let down its white or yellow-white.
Now, only these poor snow-flowers in a heap,
Like the memory of a white dress cast down . . .
So much has fallen.
And I, who have listened for a step
All afternoon, hear it now, but already falling away,
Already in memory. And the terrible scales descending
On the silent piano; the snow; and the absent flowers
Musings in December: Joseph Campbell
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”
American Art, Rocky Mountain School – part III of III: William Keith
William Keith (1838-1911) was famous for his California landscape paintings.
Below – “Mountain Landscape with Cattle”; “Mount Ritter (Crown of the Sierras)”; “Yosemite Valley”; “Hetch Hetchy Side Canyon”; “Sunset on Mount Diablo”; “Early Oakland, 7th and Adeline Streets, The Southern Pacific Depot, 1867”; “Cypress Point”; “Kings River Canyon”; “Sunset Glow on Mt Tamalpais.”