American Art – Part I of IV: Paul Rahilly
In the words of one writer, “For over three decades, Paul Rahilly has been exhibiting his lush, painterly works in shows that have been received with delight by enthusiasts of painting. Writing in the Boston Globe in 1991, Nancy Stapen said, ‘Rahilly’s art is almost sinful; it is an art of movement, light, and delight, where all aspects of nature are sensually proffered for the viewer’s pleasure.’
Rahilly is often called a realist, but the term doesn’t fit well for a few reasons. The figures typically at the center of his large works, female nudes or livestock or both, are generally set in situations so odd or fantastic – beneath towered castles, under absurdly gnarled trees, picnicking beside a mausoleum – that their world is more aptly termed surrealist, or fabulist. As Rahilly has famously remarked, commenting on the tendency to overstate the role of image in painting, ‘No one goes to opera for the plot.’”
A Poem for Today
By Allen Tate
I’ve often wondered why she laughed
On thinking why I wondered so;
It seemed such waste that long white hands
Should touch my hands and let them go.
And once when we were parting there,
Unseen of anything but trees,
I touched her fingers, thoughtfully,
For more than simple niceties.
Musings in Winter: John Muir
Musings in Winter: Emil Dorian
“I stopped in front of a florist’s window. Behind me, the screeching and throbbing boulevard vanished. Gone, too, were the voices of newspaper vendors selling their daily poisoned flowers. Facing me, behind the glass curtain, a fairyland. Shining, plump carnations, with the pink voluptuousness of women about to reach maturity, poised for the first step of a sprightly dance; shamelessly lascivious gladioli; virginal branches of white lilac; roses lost in pure meditation, undecided between the metaphysical white and the unreal yellow of a sky after the rain.”
Died 13 January 2002 – Gregorio Fuentes (born 1897), a Cuban fisherman and the reputed model for Santiago, the protagonist in Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Fuentes was the first mate of the “Pilar” – Hemingway’s fishing boat. He never read “The Old Man and the Sea.”
Musings in Winter: Michael Pollan
“In the same way that the picturesque designers were always careful to include some reminder of our mortality in their gardens — a ruin, sometimes even a dead tree — the act of leaving parts of the garden untended, and calling attention to its margins, seems to undermine any pretense to perfect power or wisdom on the part of the gardener. The margins of our gardens can be tropes too, but figures of irony rather than transcendence — antidotes, in fact, to our hubris. It may be in the margins of our gardens that we can discover fresh ways to bring our aesthetics and our ethics about the land into some meaningful alignment.”
Italian Art – Part I of III: Moreno Bondi
13 January 1957 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to Allen Tate.
Where we went in the boat was a long bay
a slingshot wide, walled in by towering stone–
Peaked margin of antiquity’s delay,
And we went there out of time’s monotone:
Where we went in the black hull no light moved
But a gull white-winged along the feckless wave,
The breeze, unseen but fierce as a body loved,
That boat drove onward like a willing slave:
Where we went in the small ship the seaweed
Parted and gave to us the murmuring shore
And we made feast and in our secret need
Devoured the very plates Aeneas bore:
Where derelict you see through the low twilight
The green coast that you, thunder-tossed, would win,
Drop sail, and hastening to drink all night
Eat dish and bowl–to take that sweet land in!
Where we feasted and caroused on the sandless
Pebbles, affecting our day of piracy,
What prophecy of eaten plates could landless
Wanderers fulfil by the ancient sea?
We for that time might taste the famous age
Eternal here yet hidden from our eyes
When lust of power undid its stuffless rage;
They, in a wineskin, bore earth’s paradise.
Let us lie down once more by the breathing side
Of Ocean, where our live forefathers sleep
As if the Known Sea still were a month wide–
Atlantis howls but is no longer steep!
What country shall we conquer, what fair land
Unman our conquest and locate our blood?
We’ve cracked the hemispheres with careless hand!
Now, from the Gates of Hercules we flood
Westward, westward till the barbarous brine
Whelms us to the tired land where tasseling corn,
Fat beans, grapes sweeter than muscadine
Rot on the vine: in that land were we born.
Musings in Winter: Kathleen Raine
Italian Art – Part II of III: Daniela Tesi
Musings in Winter: David Brendan Hopes
“Most European nations identify themselves with eagles or lions, with some predator or creature of the air, ascendant and belligerent. I would like to visit the country which adopts the groundhog as its mascot, somewhere peaceful, some place that curls against the secrets of the earth, a little Belgium of the imagination, tables piled high with cakes, the Sunday bells ringing (not too loudly), the light falling on rolling hillocks studded with salad greens.”
13 January 1981 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to May Swenson (shared with Howard Nemerov).
Body my house
my horse my hound
what will I do
when you are fallen
Where will I sleep
How will I ride
What will I hunt
Where can I go
without my mount
all eager and quick
How will I know
in thicket ahead
is danger or treasure
when Body my good
bright dog is dead
How will it be
to lie in the sky
without roof or door
and wind for an eye
Italian Art – Part III of III: Claudia Venuto
Musings in Winter: Peter Redgrove
“Our approach to reality, our sense of reality, cannot assume that the text of nature, the book of life, is a cryptogram concealing just a single meaning. Rather, it is an expanding riddle of a multiplicity of resonating images.”
13 January 1981 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to Howard Nemerov (shared with May Swenson).
“Because You Asked About The Line Between Prose And Poetry”
Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned into pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.
There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.
Argentinean Art – Part I of II: Alejandro Rosemberg
A Second Poem for Today
“A Calendar of Sonnets: January,”
By Helen Hunt Jackson
O Winter! frozen pulse and heart of fire,
What loss is theirs who from thy kingdom turn
Dismayed, and think thy snow a sculptured urn
Of death! Far sooner in midsummer tire
The streams than under ice. June could not hire
Her roses to forego the strength they learn
In sleeping on thy breast. No fires can burn
The bridges thou dost lay where men desire
In vain to build.
O Heart, when Love’s sun goes
To northward, and the sounds of singing cease,
Keep warm by inner fires, and rest in peace.
Sleep on content, as sleeps the patient rose.
Walk boldly on the white untrodden snows,
The winter is the winter’s own release.
Musings in Winter: John Muir
“If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb to the top of one of them, and run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jumping from boulder to boulder with even speed. You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of these magnificent rock piles — a fine lesson; and all Nature’s wildness tells the same story — the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort — each and all are the orderly beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.”
Argentinean Art – Part II of II: Miguel Avataneo
In the words of one writer, “Avataneo (born 1962) is one of the brightest talents in Argentina’s art world. He is a painter of images that combine a love of classicism with the South American tradition of magical realism. His images are rooted in the real world of European classicism but are infused with a naturally fantastical element. Exquisitely drawn figures are placed in dreamlike environments.
Avataneo’s imagery is sensual and evocative and employs a luxurious use of color and detail that give his canvases a luminous quality that is mesmerizing.”
Musings in Winter: Corey Ford
“The name Alaska is probably an abbreviation of Unalaska, derived from the original Aleut word agunalaksh, which means ‘the shores where the sea breaks its back.’ The war between water and land is never-ending. Waves shatter themselves in spent fury against the rocky bulwarks of the coast; giant tides eat away the sand beaches and alter the entire contour of an island overnight; williwaw winds pour down the side of a volcano like snow sliding off a roof, building to a hundred-mile velocity in a matter of minutes and churning the ocean into a maelstrom where the stoutest vessels founder.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Ted Kooser
Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.
“I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it calls itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use — silence, exile, and cunning.” – James Joyce, Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, and author of “Ulysses,” who died 13 January 1941.
Some quotes from the work of James Joyce:
“Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.”
“His heart danced upon her movements like a cork upon a tide. He heard what her eyes said to him from beneath their cowl and knew that in some dim past, whether in life or reverie, he had heard their tale before.”
“‘History,’ Stephen said, ‘is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.’”
“Shut your eyes and see.”
“You made me confess the fears that I have. But I will tell you also what I do not fear. I do not fear to be alone or to be spurned for another or to leave whatever I have to leave. And I am not afraid to make a mistake, even a great mistake, a lifelong mistake and perhaps as long as eternity too.”
“Love loves to love love.”
“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”
“I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”
“But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.”
“A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”
“He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.”
“Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.”
“I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.”
“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.”
“Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”
“They lived and laughed and loved and left.”
“One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.”
“Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”
In the words of one writer, “Alfredo Roldan was born in Madrid in 1965. At the age of 22, having had no formal artistic training, he started drawing professionally, selling his work in street markets, at the same time presenting his work at major competitions, of which he won several. In 1996 he was named a Member of the Senate ‘Honoris Causa’ of the Academy of Modern Art of Rome.”
From the American Old West: Wyatt Earp
“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.” – Wyatt Earp, gambler, city policeman, Pima County Deputy Sheriff, buffalo hunter, bouncer, saloon keeper, brothel owner, pimp, miner, boxing referee, and, most famously, Deputy Town Marshall in Tombstone Arizona, during which tenure he took part in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, who died 13 January 1929.
Below – Wyatt Earp and his mother Virginia Cooksey Earp, circa 1856; Earp at about age 21; Wyatt Earp (seated) and Bat Masterson in Dodge City, 1876; Earp at about age 33 (his age when he fought at the O.K. Corral); Tombstone in 1881 (the year of the gunfight); Wyatt at home on August 9, 1923, at age 75.
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Michelle Y. Burke
A man can give up so much,
can limit himself to handwritten correspondence,
to foods made of whole grains,
to heat from a woodstove, logs
hewn by his own hand and stacked neatly
like corpses by the backdoor.
Musings in Winter: Philip Levine
“We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.
You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.
You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.”
American Art – Part II of IV: William Coleman Mills
In the words of one critic, “Mills is far more interested in ‘the memory of a place, with its inherent inaccuracies and overlays of emotions, than a photographic recollection.’”
Musings in Winter: Henry Beston
“The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Orchard Trees, January,”
By Richard Wilbur
It’s not the case, though some might wish it so
Who from a window watch the blizzard blow
White riot through their branches vague and stark,
That they keep snug beneath their pelted bark.
They take affliction in until it jells
To crystal ice between their frozen cells,
And each of them is inwardly a vault
Of jewels rigorous and free of fault,
Unglimpsed until in May it gently bears
A sudden crop of green-pronged solitaires.
Musings in Winter: Edward Abbey
“If a man’s imagination were not so weak, so easily tired, if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon forever such fantasies of the supernal. He would learn to perceive in water, leaves and silence more than sufficient of the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him for the loss of the ancient dreams.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Martin Eichinger
In the words of one critic, “Martin Eichinger’s bronzes are refreshingly unique. They are evidence of a visionary artist who has something positive and eternal to say with his talent. He is much more than a skilled craftsman at the sculptor’s turntable.
A profound comprehension of human anatomy has allowed Eichinger to place his sculpture studies on the edge of possibility without losing their sense of grace. At the same time he is a romantic who sometimes adds bright colors, gems, iridescence and unusual basing to his work. His series of characters from an imaginary circus each includes a poem that adds another layer to our understanding of the work.”
Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Anthony Hecht
As though it were reluctant to be day,
…….Morning deploys a scale
…….Of rarities in gray,
And winter settles down in its chain-mail,
Victorious over legions of gold and red.
……The smokey souls of stones,
……Blunt pencillings of lead,
Pare down the world to glintless monotones
Of graveyard weather, vapors of a fen
…….We reckon through our pores.
…….Save for the garbage men,
Our children are the first ones out of doors.
Book-bagged and padded out, at mouth and nose
…….They manufacture ghosts,
…….George Washington’s and Poe’s,
Banquo’s, the Union and Confederate hosts’,
And are themselves the ghosts, file cabinet gray,
…….Of some departed us,
…….Signing our lives away
On ferned and parslied windows of a bus.
Musings in Winter: Everett Ruess
“I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail leading into the unknown to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities… it is enough that I am surrounded by beauty.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Charles J. Dwyer, Jr.
In the words of one writer, “Charles J. Dwyer, Jr. was born in 1961. A Wisconsin native, Dwyer graduated from the Milwaukee School of Art, where he studied fine arts, painting and printmaking.
Dwyer has shown his work in a variety of galleries across the U.S.A.
Those who view Dwyer’s art are captivated by the combination of the female form with autobiographical elements or hidden images. In many of the works, Dwyer combines hand-written script with the images. Working in mixed media for both his limited edition prints and unique works of art, the artist builds up a tactile surface. Style and technique enhance each other to present a romantic form of his very personal expressionism.”