American Art – Part I of III: Joyce Cambron
In the words of one writer, “Joyce Cambron states that her figurative paintings are about ‘things I can’t easily talk about – isolation and intimacy. They are often representations of the least public moments, those seen only by family or a lover; waking, stepping into the shower, a dirty kitchen. They both invite intimacy and cause the discomfort of intrusion.’
While interiors and the figure are the subjects that most interest her, she returns to the landscape to experiment with materials and to work more with light and space rather than representation. In these paintings, she often employs irregular surfaces such as hand made paper from India for the inspiration derived from its rustic shape and texture.”
Musings in Winter: George Santayana
A Poem for Today
“The Man in the Moon,”
By Billy Collins
He used to frighten me in the nights
the wide adult face, enormous, stern, aloft
I could not imagine such loneliness, such coldness
But tonight as I drive home over
these hilly roads
I see him sinking behind stands of winter trees
And rising again to show his familiar face
And when he comes into full view
over open fields
he looks like a young man who has fallen in love
with the dark earth
a pale bachelor, well-groomed and
full of melancholy
his round mouth open
as if he had just broken into song.
Musings in Winter: John Clare
French Art – Part I of II: Gustave Dore
Born 6 January 1832 – Gustave Dore, a painter, engraver, illustrator, and sculptor.
Below – “Enigma”; “Little Red Riding Hood in Bed with the Wolf”; “Naiads of the Sea”; from “The Raven”; “Entertainers”; “Lucifer,” from “Paradise Lost”; “Andromeda”; “Don Quixote”; from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
Musings in Winter: Carl Sagan
“What a marvelous cooperative arrangement – plants and animals each inhaling each other’s exhalations, a kind of planet-wide mutual mouth-to-stoma resuscitation, the entire elegant cycle powered by a star 150 million kilometers away.”
“Stories distribute the suffering so that it can be borne.” – Edgar Lawrence “E. L.” Doctorow, American writer and author of “Ragtime” (which won the 1975 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction), who was born 6 January 1931.
Some quotes from the work of E. L. Doctorow:
“Because like all whores you value property. You are creature of capitalism, the ethics of which are so totally corrupt and hypocritical that your beauty is no more than the beauty of gold, which is to say false and cold and useless.”
“The difference between Socrates and Jesus is that no one had ever been put to death in Socrates’ name. And that is because Socrates’ ideas were never made law. Law, in whatever name, protects privilege.”
“It was evident to him that the world composed and recomposed itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.”
“I am often asked the question How can the masses permit themselves to be exploited by the few. The answer is ‘By being persuaded to identify with them.’”
“We are all good friends. Friendship is what endures. Shared ideals, respect for the whole character of a human being. ”
“Satire’s nature is to be one-sided, contemptuous of ambiguity, and so unfairly selective as to find in the purity of ridicule an inarguable moral truth.”
“Someone dying asks if there is life after death. Yes, comes the answer, only not yours.”
“I watched bulls bred to cows, watched mares foal, I saw life come from the egg and the multiplicative wonders of mudholes and ponds, the jell and slime of life shimmering in gravid expectation. Everywhere I looked, life sprang from something not life, insects unfolded from sacs on the surface of still waters and were instantly on prowl for their dinner, everything that came into being knew at once what to do and did it, unastonished that it was what it was, unimpressed by where it was, the great earth heaving up bloodied newborns from every pore, every cell, bearing the variousness of itself from every conceivable substance which it contained in itself, sprouting life that flew or waved in the wind or blew from the mountains or stuck to the damp black underside of rocks, or swam or suckled or bellowed or silently separated in two.”
“I knew he was unreliable, but he was fun to be with. He was a child’s ideal companion, full of surprises and happy animal energy. He enjoyed food and drink. He liked to try new things. He brought home coconuts, papayas, mangoes, and urged them on our reluctant conservative selves. On Sundays he liked to discover new places, take us on endless bus or trolley rides to some new park or beach he knew about. He always counseled daring, in whatever situation, the courage to test the unknown, an instruction that was thematically in opposition to my mother’s.”
Grandmamma had been the last connection to our past. I had understood her as some referent moral authority to whom we paid no heed, but by whose judgments we measured our waywardness.”
“You’re nothing more than a clever prostitute. You accepted the conditions in which you found yourself and you triumphed.”
“And so the ordinary unendurable torments we all experienced were indeed exceptional in the way they were absorbed in each heart.”
“What we call fiction is the ancient way of knowing, the total discourse that antedates all the special vocabularies… Fiction is democratic, it reasserts the authority of the single mind to make and remake the world.”
Musings in Winter: Edward Mooney, Jr.
A Second Poem for Today
By Mary Oliver
Listen, whatever it is you try
to do with your life, nothing will ever dazzle you
like the dreams of your body,
longing to fly while the dead-weight bones
toss their dark mane and hurry
back into the fields of glittering fire
even the great whale,
throbs with song.
Musings in Winter: Herman Melville
French Art – Part II of II: David Graux
Here is one writer describing the artistry of French painter David Graux: “David Graux was born in Besançon in 1970, where he still lives and works. His highly inquiring mind tried all means of expression and all techniques in order to establish his very personal style. His favourite theme is the naked woman in all her glory. This woman rises on a richly worked and abstract background, which involves paying with material and complicated graphics. She stands out against it thanks to the perfection of her delicate lines and to her softness. The Background and the woman are both full of mystery and both loaded with the recurrent secret of oriental calligraphy, which one would like to be able to decipher.”
Musings in Winter: John Marsden
From the Television Archives: Rowan Atkinson
“To criticize a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous, but to criticize their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom.” – Rowan Atkinson, English actor, comedian, and screenwriter who is best known for his work on the sitcoms “Mr. Bean” and “Blackadder.”
Musings in Winter: Wilhelm Reich
“I know that what you call ‘God’ really exists, but not in the form you think; God is primal cosmic energy, the love in your body, your integrity, and your perception of the nature in you and outside of you.”
6 January 1958 – The Bollingen Prize in Poetry is awarded to E. E. Cummings.
“O sweet spontaneous”
O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
prurient philosophers pinched
, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
them only with
Musings in Winter: John Lubbock
“All those who love Nature she loves in return, and will richly reward, not perhaps with the good things, as they are commonly called, but with the best things of this world-not with money and titles, horses and carriages, but with bright and happy thoughts, contentment and peace of mind.”
British Art – Part I of III: Shirley Trevina
Artist Statement: “I was born in Brixton, London. My mother and her mother were both dancers and singers. My father worked in the making of fantastic films and television. My background as a child was full of theatre, circus and, most exciting of all, cinema. All that colour on a big screen has to have influenced my colourful compositions.
One day, after many years working in local government, I was given a box of watercolour paints and discovered that painting was what I was meant to do all along.
I enjoy working with watercolours and mixed media, my subject matter mainly still life, but I have been known to branch out into abstract landscape, monoprinting and pen and ink work.
I have a sort of love-hate relationship with painting. I would rather do anything than start a painting: clean the oven, make lists or even do the ironing. But once I’m in the studio and the first marks are on the white paper, I go into a world of my own, oblivious of everything except colour and form. I find my creativity so hard to start up and even harder to walk away from.”
Musings in Winter: M. Scott Momaday
“Coyotes have the gift of seldom being seen; they keep to the edge of vision and beyond, loping in and out of cover on the plains and highlands. And at night, when the whole world belongs to them, they parley at the river with the dogs, their higher, sharper voices full of authority and rebuke. They are an old council of clowns, and they are listened to.”
“Everyone in California is from somewhere else.” – Wright Morris, American essayist, novelist, photographer, and author of “Plains Song: For Female Voices,” who was born 6 January 1910.
A few quotes from the work of Wright Morris:
“There’s little to see, but things leave an impression. It’s a matter of time and repetition. As something old wears thin or out, something new wears in. The handle on the pump, the crank on the churn, the dipper floating in the bucket, the latch on the screen, the door on the privy, the fender on the stove, the knees of the pants and the seat of the chair, the handle of the brush and the lid to the pot exist in time but outside taste; they wear in more than they wear out. It can’t be helped. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s the nature of life.”
“The imagination made us human, but being human, becoming more human, is a greater burden than we imagined. We have no choice but to imagine ourselves more human than we are.”
“As the style of Faulkner grew out of his rage–out of the impotence of his rage–the style of Hemingway grew out of the depth and nuance of his disenchantment.”
Below – “Self-Portrait, Home Place”; Wright Morris’s wonderful book; “Panama”; “Drawer with Silverware, Home Place”; Barbershop, Weeping Water, Nebraska, 1947”; “Clothing on Hooks”; “Rocker, Home Place.”
Musings in Winter: Sara Teasdale
British Art – Part II of III: Mitch Griffiths
In the word of one critic, British artist Mitch Griffiths (born 1971)
“uses a traditional, almost forgotten style of painting, inspired by the light and composition of Old Master paintings, but he uses this style to depict the issues concerning 21st-century British society. His main subject is the transient and throwaway nature of contemporary culture, which is held in stark contrast to the permanence and indelibility of oil paint on canvas.”
Musings in Winter: Barack Obama
“Winter came and the city [Chicago] turned monochrome — black trees against gray sky above white earth. Night now fell in midafternoon, especially when the snowstorms rolled in, boundless prairie storms that set the sky close to the ground, the city lights reflected against the clouds.”
A Third Poem for Today
“In the Secular Night,”
By Margaret Atwood
In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It’s two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.
Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it’s baby lima beans.
It’s necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You’d be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.
There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn’t now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone’s been run over.
The century grinds on.
Musings in Winter: Wendell Berry
“If we are to have a culture as resilient and competent in the face of necessity as it needs to be, then it must somehow involve within itself a ceremonious generosity toward the wilderness of natural force and instinct. The farm must yield a place to the forest, not as a wood lot, or even as a necessary agricultural principle but as a sacred grove – a place where the Creation is let alone, to serve as instruction, example, refuge; a place for people to go, free of work and presumption, to let themselves alone.”
American Art – Part II of III: Francesco Scavullo
Died 6 January 2004 – Francesco Scavullo, an American fashion photographer known for his celebrity portraits.
Musings in Winter: Michael Pollan
“Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn’t necessarily expect to witness.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“For the Record,”
By Adrienne Rich
The clouds and the stars didn’t wage this war
the brooks gave no information
if the mountain spewed stones of fire into the river
it was not taking sides
the raindrop faintly swaying under the leaf
had no political opinions
and if here or there a house
filled with backed-up raw sewage
or poisoned those who lived there
with slow fumes, over years
the houses were not at war
nor did the tinned-up buildings
intend to refuse shelter
to homeless old women and roaming children
they had no policy to keep them roaming
or dying, no, the cities were not the problem
the bridges were non-partisan
the freeways burned, but not with hatred
Even the miles of barbed-wire
stretched around crouching temporary huts
designed to keep the unwanted
at a safe distance, out of sight
even the boards that had to absorb
year upon year, so many human sounds
so many depths of vomit, tears
had not offered themselves for this
The trees didn’t volunteer to be cut into boards
nor the thorns for tearing flesh
Look around at all of it
and ask whose signature
is stamped on the orders, traced
in the corner of the building plans
Ask where the illiterate, big-bellied
women were, the drunks and crazies,
the ones you fear most of all: ask where you were.
Musings in Winter: Jack Kerouac
British Art – Part III of III: Linda Sutton
Musings in Winter: Luci Anneu Seneca
“When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary, and shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike you with the presence of a deity?”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Robinson Jeffers
Mountains, a moment’s earth-waves rising and hollowing; the earth too’s an ephemerid; the stars—
Short-lived as grass the stars quicken in the nebula and dry in their summer, they spiral
Blind up space, scattered black seeds of a future; nothing lives long, the whole sky’s
Recurrences tick the seconds of the hours of the ages of the gulf before birth, and the gulf
After death is like dated: to labor eighty years in a notch of eternity is nothing too tiresome,
Enormous repose after, enormous repose before, the flash of activity.
Surely you never have dreamed the incredible depths were prologue and epilogue merely
To the surface play in the sun, the instant of life, what is called life? I fancy
That silence is the thing, this noise a found word for it; interjection, a jump of the breath at that silence;
Stars burn, grass grows, men breathe: as a man finding treasure says “Ah!” but the treasure’s the essence:
Before the man spoke it was there, and after he has spoken he gathers it, inexhaustible treasure.
Musings in Winter: Charles Frazier
“If you are in the mountains alone for some time, many days at minimum, & it helps if you are fasting. The forest grows tired of its weariness towards you; it resumes its inner life and allows you to see it. Near dusk the faces in tree bark cease hiding, and stare out at you. The welcoming ones and also the malevolent, open in their curiosity. In your camp at night you are able to pick out a distinct word now and then from the muddled voices in creek water, sometimes an entire sentence of deep import. The ghosts of animals reveal themselves to you without prejudice to your humanity. You see them receding before you as you walk the trail their shapes beautiful and sad.”
American Art – Part III of III: Kenney Mencher