American Art – Part I of IV: Diane Eugster
Here two comments from artist Diane Eugster: “I’m always struggling to bring the quality of all these elements (design, drawing, color, and emotional content) together. When everything interacts as I want it, it’s a great day, when it doesn’t I consider it a challenge to work harder.”
“There is so much to say when painting a human being, the emotions you share with the subject and the design possibilities are endless.”
Born 3 January 1933 – Anne Stevenson, an American-English poet.
Tears flowed at the chapel funeral,
more beside the grave on the hill. Nevertheless,
after the last autumn ploughing,
they crucified her old flowered print housedress
live, on a pole.
Marjorie and Emily, shortcutting to school,
used to pass and wave; mostly Gran would wave back
Two white Sunday gloves
flapped good luck from the crossbar; her head’s plastic sack
would nod, as a rule.
But when winter arrived her ghost thinned.
The dress began to look starved in its field of snowcorn.
One glove blew off and was lost.
The other hung blotchy with mould from the hedgerow, torn
by the wind.
Emily and Marjorie noticed this.
Without saying why, they started to avoid the country way
through the cornfield. Instead they walked
from the farm up the road to the stop where they
caught the bus.
And it caught them. So in time they married.
Marjorie, divorced, rose high in the catering profession.
Emily had children and grandchildren, though,
with the farm sold, none found a cross to fit their clothes when
Emily and Marjorie died.
Musings in Winter: Robert James Brown
“We have got some very big problems confronting us and let us not make any mistake about it, human history in the future is fraught with tragedy … It’s only through people making a stand against that tragedy and being doggedly optimistic that we are going to win through. If you look at the plight of the human race it could well tip you into despair, so you have to be very strong.”
In the words of one writer, “Antonio Sgearbossa is one of the most appreciated and well-known painters in Italy and abroad. In art Antonio looks for something that is beyond our normal vision. It is the rather mysterious side that appears, with all the emotions and the thrills of the soul.
He harmoniously transfers it under a pictorial light, into a world that becomes fabulous, as our eyes discover it; loaded with suggestions; extremely sweet in its chromatic harmony; capricious in its images and in continuous movement, ready to capture us deeply and allow us to dream. He has shown the authentic quality of a painter. It is worth observing his paintings deeply, to taste its suggestive magic.”
Musings in Winter: Jo Walton
Died 3 January 1959 – Edwin Muir, Orcadian poet, novelist, and translator.
“Reading in Wartime”
Boswell by my bed,
Tolstoy on my table;
Thought the world has bled
For four and a half years,
And wives’ and mothers’ tears
Collected would be able
To water a little field
Untouched by anger and blood,
A penitential yield
Somewhere in the world;
Though in each latitude
Armies like forest fall,
The iniquitous and the good
Head over heels hurled,
And confusion over all:
Boswell’s turbulent friend
And his deafening verbal strife,
Ivan Ilych’s death
Tell me more about life,
The meaning and the end
Of our familiar breath,
Both being personal,
Than all the carnage can,
Retrieve the shape of man,
Lost and anonymous,
Tell me wherever I look
That not one soul can die
Of this or any clan
Who is not one of us
And has a personal tie
Perhaps to someone now
Searching an ancient book,
Folk-tale or country song
In many and many a tongue,
To find the original face,
The individual soul,
The eye, the lip, the brow
For ever gone from their place,
And gather an image whole.
Musings in Winter: Aldo Leopold
“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.”
Born 3 January 1887 – Auguste Macke, a German expressionist painter.
Musings in Winter: Bryan H. McGill
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Stephen Stills
“One thing the blues ain’t, is funny.” – Stephen Stills, American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young), who was born 3 January 1945.
Musings in Winter: Mary Rose O’Reilley
“It’s an ugly woods, I was saying to myself, padding along a trail where other walkers had broken ground before me. And then I found an extraordinary bouquet. Someone had bound an offering of dry seed pods, yew, lyme grass, red berries, and brown fern and laid it on the path: ‘nothing special,’ as Buddhists say, meaning ‘everything.’ Gathered to formality, each dry stalk proclaimed a slant, an attitude, infinite shades of neutral.
All contemplative acts, silences, poems, honor the world this way. Brought together by the eye of love, a milkweed pod, a twig, allow us to see how things have been all along. A feast of being.”
A Poem for Today
By Rachel Sherwood
I poured a whiskey and soda
watching the tree outside dissolve:
light going backward pushed to corners
to the white sliver of wood
around the door.
Where was that river seething with light?
I recall the banks menaced by wasps
swollen on summer sap, a cement hollow
stuck with their strange cradles
a woozy stench of damp clay
the blunt poison of water snakes.
I do remember someone
close warm flesh pushed to the sand
the ocean a dark noise
echoing gulls and a wail of forlorn love
moonlight like yellowed keys
on his antique piano
music across the water our song
tides pulled awful and endless
as the spine of memory.
The light is lost
my glass is hollow:
the door is luminous
like a firefly at midnight.
Canadian Art – Part I of II: Joe Coffey
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Canadian painter Joe Coffey: “Joe is a self taught artist; he has been called prodigious for his drafting technique. His domestic animals and figurative works evoke strong emotional response through their atmospheric qualities and visual strength. The subjects of the works are silent witnesses to the world and of our own consciousness.”
Musings in Winter: Richard Louv
“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: Dianna Ponting
Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Dianna Ponting: ”I am drawn to quietly touch what I find abandoned and to ponder the obvious questions, trying wistfully, I suppose, to evoke the sights and sounds that must have surrounded it in its prime. Inevitably all things do turn to dust, but this fact seems a little less melancholy when, after the elements have scrubbed the slate clean, I as an artist, can open up my hand and smile at the small piece I held back.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Niccolo Paganini
3 January 1870 – Construction begins on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York; work on the bridge was completed 24 May 1883.
“O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.” – From “To Brooklyn Bridge,” by Hart Crane
A Second Poem for Today
By Hayden Carruth
Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and rearing.
We can hear it always. Earthquake, starvation, the ever-renewing sump of corpse-flesh.
But in this valley the snow falls silently all day, and out our window
We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in our little house,
We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the snow-clad trees
So graceful. In our new bed, which is big enough to seem like the north pasture almost
With our two cats, Cooker and Smudgins, lying undisturbed in the southeastern and southwestern corners,
We lie loving and warm, looking out from time to time. “Snowbound,” we say. We speak of the poet
Who lived with his young housekeeper long ago in the mountains of the western province, the kingdom
Of cruelty, where heads fell like wilted flowers and snow fell for many months
Across the pass and drifted deep in the vale. In our kitchen the maple-fire murmurs
In our stove. We eat cheese and new-made bread and jumbo Spanish olives
Which have been steeped in our special brine of jalapeños and garlic and dill and thyme.
We have a nip or two from the small inexpensive cognac that makes us smile and sigh.
For a while we close the immense index of images that is our lives—for instance,
The child on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico sitting naked in 1966 outside his family’s hut,
Covered with sores, unable to speak. But of course we see the child every day,
We hold out our hands, we touch him shyly, we make offerings to his implacability.
No, the index cannot close. And how shall we survive? We don’t and cannot and will never
Know. Beyond the horizon a great unceasing noise is undeniable. The machine,
Like an immense clanking vibrating shuddering unnameable contraption as big as a house, as big as the whole town,
May break through and lurch into our valley at any moment, at any moment.
Cheers, baby. Here’s to us. See how the curtain of snow wavers and then falls back.
Here is one writer describing some of the accomplishments of Polish painter Agnieszka Szyfter: “Agnieszka Szyfter is an European contemporary artist who has exhibited widely and has been shown alongside Picasso, Dali, Miro, Matisse and Chagall at the William Bennett Gallery in Soho, Manhattan (2007-2008).
In 2008 her paintings were exhibited at the Art & Design Gallery – and were awarded the Chinese Minister of Culture distinction at the Beijing International Art Exposition. In the same year she was invited to join the Emotionalist School founded in the USA by the sculptor – professor Lubomir Tomaszewski.”
Musings in Winter: Tomson Highway
“English is so hierarchical. In Cree, we don’t have animate-inanimate comparisons between things. Animals have souls that are equal to ours. Rocks have souls, trees have souls. Trees are ‘who,’ not ‘what.’”
“I would climb up against shadow,
Leaving the lost past behind me;
I would move up through the darkness,
Breasting each crag till it pass.” – From “Ascent of Monadnock,” by John Gould Fletcher, the first Southern poet to win the Pulitzer Prize (1939), who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on 3 January 1886.
“Along The Highway, Rogers To Fayetteville”
Here did we travel on to clouds,
High pinnacles of eternal hope,
And rainstorms, too, that slashed the earth,
We, chasing fourteen changeful springs;
You still had guided me aright,
To heart’s full happiness. I had seen
The earth we traveled grow a home: –
A place to dream in and to know
Love of our kind, who, winter nights,
Know earth’s cold charity, numbing bone.
My dear, whatever halts us now
Is not reality but a ghost
From the grey past. Within our hands
We hold reality. It is ours.
And driving towards it we can find
Pinnacles of the eternal cloud,
And rainstorms slaking sunny earth,
And joys we never dreamed to know.
Musings in Winter: John Masefield
In the words of one writer, “Tran Nguyen is a Vietnamese artist specializing in fantastical and surrealistic imagery. Tran is fascinated with creating imagery that can be used as a psycho-therapeutic support vehicle. Currently based in Savannah, Georgia, she enjoys the aesthetics of nature and the outdoors which is often incorporated into her work. She is currently enrolled at the Savannah College of Art and Design where she will graduate with a B.F.A in illustration in the year ahead.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Wislawa Szymborska
I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.
Musings in Winter: Pablo Neruda
American Art – Part II of IV: Laura James
In the words of one writer, “Born and bred in Brooklyn, New York, Laura James is a self-taught painter of Antiguan heritage. Working as a professional artist and illustrator for almost twenty years, Ms. James is best known for her illustrations in the Book of the Gospels lectionary published in 2000 by LTP on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church.
Laura James is also an award-winning artist of secular works. She paints women, families, and scenes of everyday life; blending intricate patterns, text, vibrant colors and sometimes-surreal imagery into what she calls ‘art for the people.’”
A Fourth Poem for Today
From “Two Hangovers” – “Number Two: I Try to Waken and Greet the World Once More,”
By James Wright
In a pine tree,
A few yards away from my window sill,
A brilliant blue jay is springing up and down, up and down,
On a branch.
I laugh, as I see him abandon himself
To entire delight, for he knows as well as I do
That the branch will not break.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Larking Goldsmith Mead, Jr.
Born 3 January 1835 – Larkin Goldsmith Mead, Jr., an American sculptor working in a Neoclassical style.
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Linda Gregg
I would like to decorate this silence,
but my house grows only cleaner
and more plain. The glass chimes I hung
over the register ring a little
when the heat goes on.
I waited too long to drink my tea.
It was not hot. It was only warm.
Musings in Winter: William McDonough, Michael Braungart
“Consider this: all the ants on the planet, taken together, have a biomass greater than that of humans. Ants have been incredibly industrious for millions of years. Yet their productiveness nourishes plants, animals, and soil. Human industry has been in full swing for little over a century, yet it has brought about a decline in almost every ecosystem on the planet. Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.”
3 January 1959 – Alaska is officially proclaimed a state.
Below – The State Flag of Alaska; the State Dog of Alaska – Alaskan Malamute; the State Flower of Alaska – Alpine Forget-me-not; the State Tree of Alaska – Sitka Spruce; the State Bird of Alaska – Willow Ptarmigan; the State Fish of Alaska – King Salmon; the State Land Mammal of Alaska– Moose; the State Marine Mammal of Alaska – Bowhead Whale.
A Sixth Poem for Today
By W. S. Merwin
There are threads of old sound heard over and over
phrases of Shakespeare or Mozart the slender
wands of the auroras playing out from them
into dark time the passing of a few
migrants high in the night far from the ancient flocks
far from the rest of the words far from the instruments
Musings in Winter: Peter Singer
“Arguments for preservation based on the beauty of wilderness are sometimes treated as if they were of little weight because they are ‘merely aesthetic.’ That is a mistake. We go to great lengths to preserve the artistic treasures of earlier human civilisations. It is difficult to imagine any economic gain that we would be prepared to accept as adequate compensation for, for instance, the destruction of the paintings in the Louvre. How should we compare the aesthetic value of wilderness with that of the paintings in the Louvre? Here, perhaps, judgment does become inescapably subjective; so I shall report my own experiences. I have looked at the paintings in the Louvre, and in many of the other great galleries of Europe and the United States. I think I have a reasonable sense of appreciation of the fine arts; yet I have not had, in any museum, experiences that have filled my aesthetic senses in the way that they are filled when I walk in a natural setting and pause to survey the view from a rocky peak overlooking a forested valley, or by a stream tumbling over moss-covered boulders set amongst tall tree-ferns, growing in the shade of the forest canopy, I do not think I am alone in this; for many people, wilderness is the source of the greatest feelings of aesthetic appreciation, rising to an almost mystical intensity.”
Musings in Winter: Gary Snyder
“I have a friend who feels sometimes that the world is hostile to human life–he says it chills us and kills us. But how could we be were it not for this planet that provided our very shape? Two conditions–gravity and a livable temperature range between freezing and boiling–have given us fluids and flesh. The trees we climb and the ground we walk on have given us five fingers and toes. The “place” (from the root plat, broad, spreading, flat) gave us far-seeing eyes, the streams and breezes gave us versatile tongues and whorly ears. The land gave us a stride, and the lake a dive. The amazement gave us our kind of mind. We should be thankful for that, and take nature’s stricter lessons with some grace.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Elaine Maria Upton
Everytime you see a tree
or dream a cloud,
there is that in you of the tree
there is that in you of the cloud.
The saguaro dreams in drought
and endures. The cloud dreams
our woe –sneezes, cries.
The rain falls
Musings in Winter: Vera Nazarian
“Listen to the trees as they sway in the wind.
Their leaves are telling secrets. Their bark sings songs of olden days as it grows around the trunks. And their roots give names to all things.
Their language has been lost.
But not the gestures.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Ron Monsma
In the words of one writer, “Ron Monsma has been painting and teaching for over 20 years. Since exhibiting at the Chicago Art Institute’s prestigious 51st Drawing Competition, Ron has continued his career with numerous awards and solo exhibitions at galleries in Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati and is represented in private and corporate collections throughout the United States and Europe.”