Nobel Laureate: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., American clergyman, activist, humanitarian, civil rights leader, and recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, who was born 15 January 1929.
American Art – Part I of III: Bruce Adams
In the words of one writer, “Bruce Adams is best known as a conceptually based figurative painter who references various (often historical) painting styles. In exploring the act of painting, Adams peels back the layers of meaning inherent in making and viewing art.
Formally trained in art education at Buffalo State College, Adams considers his true education to be his involvement in Western New York’s contemporary art scene, starting in the nineteen-eighties as director/curator of a small storefront gallery called peopleart bflo, and then with Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center as an Artist Advisory Committee co-founder, long-time board member, and board president.”
A Poem for Today
By Billy Collins
‘You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine…’
You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.
However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.
It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.
And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.
It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.
I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.
The Sea – Part I of V: Conrad Aiken
“The House Of Dust: Part 01: 08: The white fog creeps from the cold sea over the city”
The white fog creeps from the cold sea over the city,
Over the pale grey tumbled towers,—
And settles among the roofs, the pale grey walls.
Along damp sinuous streets it crawls,
Curls like a dream among the motionless trees
And seems to freeze.
The fog slips ghostlike into a thousand rooms,
Whirls over sleeping faces,
Spins in an atomy dance round misty street lamps;
And blows in cloudy waves over open spaces . . .
And one from his high window, looking down,
Peers at the cloud-white town,
And thinks its island towers are like a dream . . .
It seems an enormous sleeper, within whose brain
Laborious shadows revolve and break and gleam.
Musings in Winter: John Muir
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
15 January 1895 – The definitive version of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” premieres in St. Petersburg.
A favorite of mine since boyhood:
A Second Poem for Today
“I Don’t Have a Pill for That,”
By Deborah Landau
It scares me to watch
a woman hobble along
the sidewalk, hunched adagio
leaning on —
there’s so much fear
I could draw you a diagram
of the great reduction
all of us will soon
The wedding is over.
Summer is over.
Life please explain.
This book is nearly halfway read.
I don’t have a pill for that,
the doctor said.
Musings in Winter: Theodore Roosevelt
Born 15 January 1858 – Giovanni Segantini, an Italian painter known for his pastoral landscapes of the Alps.
The Sea – Part II of V: John Steinbeck
“Time is more complex near the sea than in any other place, for in addition to the circling of the sun and the turning of the seasons, the waves beat out the passage of time on the rocks and the tides rise and fall as a great clepsydra.”
A Third Poem for Today
By W. D. Ehrhart
Each day I go into the fields
to see what is growing
and what remains to be done.
It is always the same thing: nothing
is growing, everything needs to be done.
Plow, harrow, disc, water, pray
till my bones ache and hands rub
blood-raw with honest labor—
all that grows is the slow
intransigent intensity of need.
I have sown my seed on soil
guaranteed by poverty to fail.
But I don’t complain—except
to passersby who ask me why
I work such barren earth.
They would not understand me
if I stooped to lift a rock
and hold it like a child, or laughed,
or told them it is their poverty
I labor to relieve. For them,
I complain. A farmer of dreams
knows how to pretend. A farmer of dreams
knows what it means to be patient.
Each day I go into the fields.
Musings in Winter: Myrtle Reed
“The river itself portrays humanity precisely, with its tortuous windings, its accumulation of driftwood, its unsuspected depths, and its crystalline shallows, singing in the Summer sun. Barriers may be built across its path, but they bring only power, as the conquering of an obstacle is always sure to do. Sometimes when the rocks and stone-clad hills loom large ahead, and eternity itself would be needed to carve a passage, there is an easy way around. The discovery of it makes the river sing with gladness and turns the murmurous deeps to living water, bright with ripples and foam.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: George Harrison
15 January 1971 – George Harrison releases “My Sweet Lord.”
In the words of one writer, “Philip de Rooij was born in January of 1976 in Arnhem, The Netherlands. He spent his youth in Zutphen, an old city near the river IJssel. By spending much time at that river, he developed his sense for nature, organic forms and space.
After two degrees in trade training and a technical math degree, he moved to Amsterdam. There he studied Structural Engineering at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, his goal was to become an architect. After he had been working as a broker in real estate, he started working in the internet business. Here Philip was the creative brain behind all of the photographs and picture material. After the company he worked for went bankrupt, he was at a crucial phase in his life. His overpowering feelings to create, were feelings he could not hold back any longer.”
Musings in Winter: Rainer Maria Rilke
Musings in Winter: John Muir
15 January 1985 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to John Ashbery (shared with Fred Chappell).
“The Picture of Little J. A. in a Prospect of Flowers”
He was spoilt from childhood
by the future, which he mastered
rather early and apparently
without great difficulty.
Darkness falls like a wet sponge
And Dick gives Genevieve a swift punch
In the pajamas. “Aroint thee, witch.”
Her tongue from previous ecstasy
Releases thoughts like little hats.
“He clap’d me first during the eclipse.
Afterwards I noted his manner
Much altered. But he sending
At that time certain handsome jewels
I durst not seem to take offence.”
In a far recess of summer
Monks are playing soccer.
So far is goodness a mere memory
Or naming of recent scenes of badness
That even these lives, children,
You may pass through to be blessed,
So fair does each invent his virtue.
And coming from a white world, music
Will sparkle at the lips of many who are
Beloved. Then these, as dirty handmaidens
To some transparent witch, will dream
Of a white hero’s subtle wooing,
And time shall force a gift on each.
That beggar to whom you gave no cent
Striped the night with his strange descant.
Yet I cannot escape the picture
Of my small self in that bank of flowers:
My head among the blazing phlox
Seemed a pale and gigantic fungus.
I had a hard stare, accepting
Everything, taking nothing,
As though the rolled-up future might stink
As loud as stood the sick moment
The shutter clicked. Though I was wrong,
Still, as the loveliest feelings
Must soon find words, and these, yes,
Displace them, so I am not wrong
In calling this comic version of myself
The true one. For as change is horror,
Virtue is really stubbornness
And only in the light of lost words
Can we imagine our rewards.
The Sea – Part III of V: Werner Herzog
“At the press conference for the film (“The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser”) he (Bruno Schleinstein, an actor who worked in three of Herzog’s films) impressed everyone with his complete sincerity and innocence. He said he had come to see the sea for the first time and marveled at how clean it was. Someone told him that, in fact, it wasn’t. ‘When the world is emptied of human beings,’ he said, ‘it will become so again.’”
American Art – Part II of III: Patrick Lee
In the words of one writer, “It is Lee’s masterful draftsmanship which conveys his understanding of his subjects and the core issue of masculinity. Each image is hand drawn without Photoshop or digital assistance. Akin to a sculptor, the artist invests each facial pore and hair with microscopic detail so the image resonates as a complete emotional picture; an internal and external illumination. In the lineage of Chuck Close and Manet’s realism, Lee forges a contemporary investigation of class and gender roles. His conceptual drawings are compelling mirrors of our societal desire for alpha – heroic strength and control. Yet his subjects are not ideal figures for they embody other human traits such as pride, anger, or pain. As complex portraits, Lee’s images expose the illusion of ‘maleness’ as acquired, not necessarily inherent; external gender characteristics as ever changing and adaptable according to need; a game of adaption and replication to an end.”
Musings in Winter: Pablo Neruda
15 January 1985 – The Bollingen Prize for poetry is awarded to Fred Chappell (shared with John Ashbery).
“Narcissus and Echo”
Shall the water not remember ‘Ember’
my hand’s slow gesture, tracing above ‘of’
its mirror my half-imaginary ‘airy’
portrait? My only belonging ‘longing’;
is my beauty, which I take ‘ache’
away and then return, as love ‘of’
teasing playfully the one being ‘unbeing.’
whose gratitude I treasure ‘Is your’
moves me. I live apart ‘heart’
from myself, yet cannot ‘not’
live apart. In the water’s tone, ‘stone?’
that brilliant silence, a flower ‘Hour,’
whispers my name with such slight ‘light’:
moment, it seems filament of air, ‘fare’
the world becomes cloudswell. ‘well.’
Musings in Winter: Edward Abbey
“Growing up human is uniquely a matter of social relations rather than biology. What we learn from connections within the family takes the place of instincts that program the behavior of animals; which raises the question, how good are these connections?” – Elizabeth Janeway, American author, social critic, feminist, and author of “The Walsh Girls,” who died 15 January 2005.
A few quotes from the work of Elizabeth Janeway:
“Like their personal lives, women’s history is fragmented, interrupted; a shadow history of human beings whose existence has been shaped by the efforts and the demands of others.”
“As long as mixed grills and combination salads are popular, anthologies will undoubtedly continue in favor.”
“The Goddamn human race deserves itself, and as far as I’m concerned it can have it.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“On Leaving the Body to Science,”
By Claudia Emerson
The ‘my’ becomes
a ‘the,’ becomes
a law’s, something
by me, alone,
though it will not
be the ‘I’
I am on
leaving it, no
longer to be
designated human or
it will be,
the deep hold
of the hospital
as in the storage
of a ghost ship
run aground —
the secret in it
perhaps, stir again
the wind that
will be preserved,
kept like larva,
like a bullet
in its chamber.
They will gather
probe and sample,
argue — then
to its between-
and stroll, some evenings,
a city block
for a beer,
a glass of chilled
white wine. Even there, they
to speak of it,
glean from beneath
of scars, surgical
mess it became
before I left it
left of me, this
name, a signature,
“Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Everything.” – Ernest J. Gaines, American writer and recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (for “A Lesson Before Dying”), who was born 15 January 1933.
Some quotes from the work of Ernest J. Gaines:
“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? ”
“I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be.”
“I have no more to say except this: We must live with our own conscience.”
“Nietzsche said without music, life would be a mistake. To me, without books, life would be a mistake.”
“There will always be men struggling to change, and there will always be those who are controlled by the past.”
“Everything’s been said, but it needs saying again.”
“We’ve only been living in these ghettos for seventy-five years or so, but the other three hundred years — I think this is worth writing about. I think we’ve made tremendous sacrifices, we’ve shown tremendous strength. In the ghetto you see a lot of frustration; you see very little strength.”
“I don’t care what a man is. I mean, a great artist is like a great doctor. I don’t care how racist he is. If he can show me how to operate on a heart so that I can cure a brother, or cure someone else, I don’t give a damn what the man thinks; he has taught me something. And that is valuable to me. And that is valuable to others and man as a whole.”
The Sea – Part IV of V: Jacques Cousteau
German painter Eckart Hahn (born 1971) studied Photography at Johannes Guttenberg School in Stuttgart (1990-1991), the History of Art at Eberhardt Karl University in Tubingen (1991-1993), and Graphic Design at Johannes Guttenberg School in Stuttgart (1995-1998).
Musings in Winter: David Abram
“We sleep, allowing gravity to hold us, allowing Earth- our larger body- to recalibrate our neurons, composting the keen encounters of our waking hours (the tensions and terrors of our individual days), stirring them back, as dreams, into the sleeping substance of our muscles. We give ourselves over to the influence of the breathing earth. Sleep is the shadow of the earth as it seeps into our skin and spreads throughout our limbs, dissolving our individual will into the thousand and one selves that compose it- cells, tissues, and organs taking their prime directives now from gravity and the wind- as residual bits of sunlight, caught in the long tangle of nerves, wander the drifting landscape of our earth-borne bodies like deer moving across the forested valleys.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Women Whose Lives are Food, Men Whose Lives are Money,”
By Joyce Carol Oates
Mid-morning Monday she is staring
peaceful as the rain in that shallow back yard
she wears flannel bedroom slippers
she is sipping coffee
she is thinking—
—gazing at the weedy bumpy yard
at the faces beginning to take shape
in the wavy mud
in the linoleum
where floorboards assert themselves
Women whose lives are food
breaking eggs with care
scraping garbage from the plates
unpacking groceries hand over hand
Wednesday evening: he takes the cans out front
tough plastic with detachable lids
Thursday morning: the garbage truck whining at 7
Friday the shopping mall open till 9
bags of groceries unpacked
hand over certain hand
Men whose lives are money
the lunchbag folded with care and brough back home
unfolded Monday morning
Women whose lives are food
because they are not punch-carded
because they are unclocked
sighing glad to be alone
staring into the yard, mid-morning
by mid-afternoon everything is forgotten
There are long evenings
panel discussions on abortions, fashions, meaningful work
there are love scenes where people mouth passions
sprightly, handsome, silly, manic
in close-ups revealed ageless
the women whose lives are food
the men whose lives are money
fidget as these strangers embrace and weep and mis-
understand and forgive and die and weep and embrace
and the viewers stare and fidget and sigh and
begin yawning around 10:30
never made it past midnight, even on Saturdays,
watching their braven selves perform
Where are the promised revelations?
Why have they been shown so many times?
Long-limbed children a thousand miles to the west
hitch-hiking in spring, burnt bronze in summer
‘Give us a ride, huh? Give us a ride?’
and when they return nothing is changed
the linoleum looks older
the Hawaiian Chicken is new
the girls wash their hair more often
the boys skip over the puddles
in the GM parking lot
no one eyes them with envy
their mothers stoop
the oven doors settle with a thump
the dishes are rinsed and stacked and
by mid-morning the house is quiet
it is raining out back
or not raining
the relief of emptiness rains
simple, terrible, routine
The Sea – Part V of V: Andre Gide
In the words of one art historian, British painter Christian Furr “became the youngest artist to have ever officially painted Queen Elizabeth II, when in 1995 – at the age of twenty eight – he was invited by the Queen to paint her portrait at Buckingham Palace.”
Christian Furr lives and works in London.
A Sixth Poem for Today
“For the Climbers,”
By Kevin Craft
Among the many lives you’ll never lead,
consider that of the wolverine, for whom avalanche
is opportunity, who makes a festival
of frozen marrow from the femur of an elk,
who wears the crooked North Star like an amulet
of teeth. In the game of which animal
would you return as, today I’m thinking
snowshoe hare, a scuffle in the underbrush,
one giant leap. You never see them
coming and going, only the crosshairs
of their having passed, ascending the ridge, lost
or not lost in succession forests giving way
to open meadow where deep snow
lingers and finally relents, uncovering
acres of lily — glacier yellow, avalanche
white — daylight restaking its earthly claim.
Every season swallows someone —
Granite Mountain with its blunderbuss
gullies, Tatoosh a lash on the tongue,
those climbers caught if not unawares
then perfectly hapless, not thinking of riding
that snowstorm to the summit, not thinking
wolverine fever in the shivering blood,
not thinking steelhead cutthroat rainbow
or the languid river that will carry them out.
Musings in Winter: Christopher Isherwood
“An afternoon drive from Los Angeles will take you up into the high mountains, where eagles circle above the forests and the cold blue lakes, or out over the Mojave Desert, with its weird vegetation and immense vistas. Not very far away are Death Valley, and Yosemite, and Sequoia Forest with its giant trees which were growing long before the Parthenon was built; they are the oldest living things in the world. One should visit such places often, and be conscious, in the midst of the city, of their surrounding presence. For this is the real nature of California and the secret of its fascination; this untamed, undomesticated, aloof, prehistoric landscape which relentlessly reminds the traveller of his human condition and the circumstances of his tenure upon the earth. ‘You are perfectly welcome,’ it tells him, ‘during your short visit. Everything is at your disposal. Only, I must warn you, if things go wrong, don’t blame me. I accept no responsibility. I am not part of your neurosis. Don’t cry to me for safety. There is no home here. There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it, and you will be happy.’”
American Art – Part III of III: Lea Colie Wight
In the words of one writer, “Lea Colie Wight was born in Philadelphia, Pa in 1951. She earned a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1974. In 2003 Lea discovered Studio Incamminati, a small intensive Atelier founded in Philadelphia by world-renowned artist Nelson Shanks and entered as a student. Lea flourished in the environment of rigorous study under the attention of Nelson Shanks and the other top realist painters instructing at the school. In 2005 Lea was invited to join the teaching staff rising to become one of the lead teachers at that school. Lea periodically serves as teaching assistant to Nelson Shanks at the Art Students League on New York and has served as lead instructor for various Studio Incamminati workshops.
Lea maintains a studio in Manasquan, New Jersey as well as at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia.”