American Art – Part I of IV: Tony Chimento
Artist Statement: “As a young man at college I was encouraged to accept the notion that art could only be valid if it somehow ‘pushed the envelope.’ To be avant-garde and new seemed by far the most important criterion to my professors. However, it seemed to me that once that art-historical time line ended in the late 60’s with the minimal artists and the final blank white canvas, then the whole idea of artists making marks on canvas should have ended along with it. As we all know it didn’t. For me, that began to erode the power that the so called ‘Avant-Garde’ held in my thinking about my validity as a realist painter and opened the door for new ways of thinking about art along with my own self- respect as an artist.
Allowing the work to talk to me, I began to be aware on a conscious level of something which was always there intuitively: that my work is mostly about the exploration if beauty and the space we make for its contemplation. In a world where the ugly and violent seem increasingly more intense, the exploration of beauty and serenity, not as escape…but as antidote, certainly must be as valid a reason for making art as any other.
Earlier on, when I felt that if the finished painting was beautiful and special to me, then I succeeded no matter how difficult the journey might have been. As I learn more about the process of painting, I’m finding the process has its own beauty…. that of becoming, so that painting itself can be seen as a metaphor for what is best about life.”
“Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.” – Anton Chekhov, Russian physician, dramatist, short story writer, and author of “The Cherry Orchard,” who was born 17 January 1860.
Some quotes from the work of Anton Chekhov:
“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.”
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
“Wisdom…. comes not from age, but from education and learning.”
“The world is, of course, nothing but our conception of it.”
“Civilized people must, I believe, satisfy the following criteria:
1) They respect human beings as individuals and are therefore always tolerant, gentle, courteous and amenable … They do not create scenes over a hammer or a mislaid eraser; they do not make you feel they are conferring a great benefit on you when they live with you, and they don’t make a scandal when they leave.
2) They have compassion for other people besides beggars and cats. Their hearts suffer the pain of what is hidden to the naked eye.
3) They respect other people’s property, and therefore pay their debts.
4) They are not devious, and they fear lies as they fear fire. They don’t tell lies even in the most trivial matters. To lie to someone is to insult them, and the liar is diminished in the eyes of the person he lies to. Civilized people don’t put on airs; they behave in the street as they would at home, they don’t show off to impress their juniors.
5) They don’t run themselves down in order to provoke the sympathy of others. They don’t play on other people’s heartstrings to be sighed over and cosseted … that sort of thing is just cheap striving for effects, it’s vulgar, old hat and false.
6) They are not vain. They don’t waste time with the fake jewellery of hobnobbing with celebrities, being permitted to shake the hand of a drunken [judicial orator], the exaggerated bonhomie of the first person they meet at the Salon, being the life and soul of the bar … They regard phrases like ‘I am a representative of the Press!!’ — the sort of thing one only hears from [very minor journalists] — as absurd. If they have done a brass farthing’s work they don’t pass it off as if it were 100 roubles by swanking about with their portfolios, and they don’t boast of being able to gain admission to places other people aren’t allowed in (…) True talent always sits in the shade, mingles with the crowd, avoids the limelight … As Krylov said, the empty barrel makes more noise than the full one.
7) If they do possess talent, they value it … They take pride in it … they know they have a responsibility to exert a civilizing influence on [others] rather than aimlessly hanging out with them. And they are fastidious in their habits.
8) They work at developing their aesthetic sensibility … Civilized people don’t simply obey their baser instincts … they require ‘mens sana in corpore sano.’
And so on. That’s what civilized people are like … Reading ‘Pickwick’ and learning a speech from ‘Faust’ by heart is not enough if your aim is to become a truly civilized person and not to sink below the level of your surroundings.”
“Perhaps the feelings that we experience when we are in love represent a normal state. Being in love shows a person who he should be.”
“If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.”
“Medicine is my lawful wife, and literature is my mistress. When I get fed up with one, I spend the night with the other”
“A woman can become a man’s friend only in the following stages – first an acquaintance, next a mistress, and only then a friend.”
“These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”
“And I despise your books, I despise wisdom and the blessings of this world. It is all worthless, fleeting, illusory, and deceptive, like a mirage. You may be proud, wise, and fine, but death will wipe you off the face of the earth as though you were no more than mice burrowing under the floor, and your posterity, your history, your immortal geniuses will burn or freeze together with the earthly globe.”
“Do you see that tree? It is dead but it still sways in the wind with the others. I think it would be like that with me. That if I died I would still be part of life in one way or another.”
Out of the Depths – Quotes from “Moby Dick”: Part I of IV
Musings in Winter: Edith Wharton
A Poem for Today
“The Darker Sooner,”
By Catherine Wing
Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.
Musings in Winter: Alanis Obomsawin
“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.”
Musings in Winter: Edna St Vincent Millay
“Moon, that against the lintel of the west
Your forehead lean until the gate be swung,
Longing to leave the world and be at rest,
Being worn with faring and no longer young,
Do you recall at all the Carian hill
Where worn with loving, loving late you lay,
Halting the sun because you lingered still,
While wondering candles lit the Carian day?
Ah, if indeed this memory to your mind
Recall some sweet employment, pity me,
That even now the dawn’s dim herald see!
I charge you, goddess, in the name of one
You loved as well: endure, hold off the sun.”
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, statesman, musician, inventor, civic activist, diplomat, author of “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” and a Founding Father of the United States, who was born 17 January 1706.
Some quotes from the work of Benjamin Franklin:
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
“You may delay, but time will not.”
“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”
“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”
“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,
What’s a sundial in the shade?”
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.”
“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”
“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”
Musings in Winter: Joy Williams
“You don’t believe in Nature anymore. It’s too isolated from you. You’ve abstracted it. It’s so messy and damaged and sad. Your eyes glaze as you travel life’s highway past all the crushed animals and the Big Gulp cups.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Signing on a Crew,”
By David L. Harrison
Gather ’round, ye scurvy mates,
I’m signing on a crew.
You there! Can ye tie a knot?
I’d say you’ve snatched a purse or two.
Does the thought of plundered gold
make ye shiver?
Make ye bold?
Ha! You’re rotten through and through!
Phew! You stinking, drunken lout!
You’d whack your uncle’s gizzard out!
Well step right up!
Beyond a doubt
Musings in Winter: John Hay
“In a society so estranged from animals as ours, we often fail to credit them with any form of language. If we do, it comes under the heading of communication rather than speech. And yet, the great silence we have imposed on the rest of life contains innumerable forms of expression. Where does our own language come from but this unfathomed store that characterizes innumerable species?
We are now more than halfway removed from what the unwritten word meant to our ancestors, who believed in the original, primal word behind all manifestations of the spirit. You sang because you were answered. The answers come from life around you. Prayers, chants, and songs were also responses to the elements, to the wind, the sun and stars, the Great Mystery behind them. Life on earth springs from a collateral magic that we rarely consult. We avoid the unknown as if we were afraid that contact would lower our sense of self-esteem.”
Out of the Depths – Quotes from “Moby Dick”: Part II of IV
“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. ”
A Third Poem for Today
By Caroline Bird
I surrender my weapons:
Catapult Tears, Rain-Cloud Hat,
Lip Zip, Brittle Coat, Taut Teeth
in guarded rows. Pluck this plate
of armor from my ear, drop
it in the Amnesty Bin,
watch my sadness land among
the dark shapes of memory.
Unarmed, now see me saunter
past Ticking Baggage, Loaded
Questions, Gangs of Doubt; my love
equips me. I swear, ever
since your cheeky face span round
I trust this whole bloody world.
From the American Old West: The Modoc War
17 January 1873 – The Modoc War: A group of Modoc Native American warriors led by Captain Jack defeat the United States Army in the First Battle of the Stronghold in northeastern California.
Musings in Winter: Henry Beston
“Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame. To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life. Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valleys, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth’s and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and dawn seen over ocean from the beach.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Norwegian ceramicist Toril Redalen: “As an artist I use the material in different state of being in order to challenge and expand people’s perception of their surroundings and belongings. Using different approaches, I visualize the relationship between thought and the material present. Taking interest in spatial issues, I work with exteriors and interiors containing real and fabricated history. The symbolically charged beauty of nature, the expectations of total freedom; I am fascinated by the modern conception of nature and how this can create controversy. I also reflect on the fundamental Romantic feeling of loneliness that seems to be the concern of most contemporary representations of nature.
My work is driven by ‘being in’ the process, with the primary motivation of exploring. My aesthetic hinges upon a minor de-contextualization of a thing or feeling so that it can be used a means for us to re-experience the familiar in a way that lets us see it again for the first time. My fulfilled work will have an introspective supple quality, like the way a mist shrouds and soften a form, giving it potential to slip just before you fully recognize it. I seek creation, with the material being able to embrace more than a faded cast of an action once happened. I am fascinated by the clays ability to be reused and transformed into future forms and ideas, in contrast to its hard and resistant state as ceramics.
In a world that seems to have fallen either apathetic or frenetic in wanting to make a difference, I hope my work is an honest reminder of the importance of the reality of dreams, and the necessity of feeling a little overwhelmed.”
Musings in Winter: Mark Haddon
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Floyd Skloot
My wife sits in her swivel chair
ringed by skeins of multicolored yarn
that will become the summer sweater
she has imagined since September.
Her hand rests on the spinning wheel
and her foot pauses on the pedals
as she gazes out into the swollen river.
Light larking between wind and current
will be in this sweater. So will a shade
of red she saw when the sun went down.
When she is at her wheel, time moves
like the tune I almost recognize now
that she begins to hum it, a lulling
melody born from the draft of fiber,
clack of spindle and bobbin, soft
breath as the rhythm takes hold.
Musings in Winter: Mark Twain
“No alien land in all the world has any deep strong charm for me but one, no other land could so longingly and so beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and waking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done. Other things leave me, but it abides me; other things change, but it remains the same. For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of it surfbeat is in my ear; I can see its garland crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud wrack; I can feel the woodland solitudes, I can hear the splash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.”
Out of the Depths – Quotes from “Moby Dick”: Part III of IV
“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.
Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!”
“Standing on a street corner waiting for no one is power.” – Gregory Corso, American poet and a member of the Beat Generation that included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, who died 17 January 2001.
“The Mad Yak”
I am watching them churn the last milk they’ll ever get from me.
They are waiting for me to die;
They want to make buttons out of my bones.
Where are my sisters and brothers?
That tall monk there, loading my uncle, he has a new cap.
And that idiot student of his — I never saw that muffler before.
Poor uncle, he lets them load him.
How sad he is, how tired!
I wonder what they’ll do with his bones?
And that beautiful tail!
How many shoelaces will they make of that!
Musings in Winter: Danika Stone
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Rebecca Kai Dotlich
On thin golden poles
gliding up, sliding down,
a kingdom of horses
goes spinning around.
‘Jumper, Brown Beauty,
Dark Thunder, Sir Snow,’
a medley of ponies
parade in a row.
Settled in saddles,
their riders hold on
to reins of soft leather
while circling along
on chestnut or charcoal,
on sleek Arctic white,
on silver they gallop
in place day and night.
Such spinning is magic,
(to dream as you sail)
with lavender saddle
and ebony tail,
American Art – Part II of IV: Rashida Ua Bakari
Artist Statement: “My spirit vessels are metaphorical representations of bodies as objects of physical, as well as spiritual containment. The emerging and introspective faces on the vessels evoke serenity and bring spiritual peace to my work.”
Musings in Winter: Loren Eiseley
“Great minds have always seen it. That is why man has survived his journey this long. When we fail to wish any longer to be otherwise than what we are, we will have ceased to evolve. Evolution has to be lived forward. I say this as one who has stood above the bones of much that has vanished, and at midnight has examined his own face.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom,”
By Kim Dower
breezy, floral, dancing with color
soft, silky, flows as I walk
Easter Sunday and you always liked
to get dressed, go for brunch, “maybe
there’s a good movie playing somewhere?”
Wrong religion, we were not church-goers,
but New Yorkers who understood the value
of a parade down 5th Avenue, bonnets
in lavender, powder blues, pinks, hues
of spring, the hope it would bring.
We had no religion but we did have
noodle kugel, grandparents, dads
who could fix fans, reach the china
on the top shelf, carve the turkey.
That time has passed. You were the last
to go, mom, and I still feel bad I never
got dressed up for you like you wanted me to.
I had things, things to do. But today in L.A.—
hot the way you liked it—those little birds
you loved to see flitting from tree to tree—
just saw one, a twig in its mouth, preparing
American Art – Part III of IV: John Weiss
Musings in Winter: John Steinbeck
“It is not only the size of these redwoods but their strangeness that frightens them. And why not? For these are the last remaining members of a race that flourished over four continents as far back in geologic time as the upper Jurassic period. Fossils of these ancients have been found dating from the Cretaceous era while in the Eocene and Miocene they were spread over England and Europe and America. And then the glaciers moved down and wiped the Titans out beyond recovery. And only these few are left–a stunning memory of what the world was like once long ago. Can it be that we do not love to be reminded that we are very young and callow in a world that was old when we came into it? And could there be a strong resistance to the certainty that a living world will continue its stately way when we no longer inhabit it?”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Deer Fording the Missouri in Early Afternoon,”
By Kevin Cole
Perhaps to those familiar with their ways
The sight would not have been so startling:
A deer fording the Missouri in the early afternoon.
Perhaps they would not have worried as much
As I about the fragility of it all:
Her agonizingly slow pace, the tender ears
And beatific face just above the water.
At one point she hit upon a shoal
And appeared to walk upon a mantle,
The light glancing off her thin legs and black hooves.
I thought she might pause for a while to rest,
To gain some bearings, but instead she bound
Back in, mindful I suppose
Of the vulnerability of open water.
When she finally reached the island
And leapt into dark stands
Of cottonwoods and Russian olives,
I swear I almost fell down in prayer.
Musings in Winter: Munia Khan
Out of the Depths – Quotes from “Moby Dick”: Part IV of IV
“Queequeg was a native of Kokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
Musings in Winter: Patricia A. McKillip
“I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Timothy John-Luke Smith
In the words of one writer, “Timothy studied in the classical tradition of drawing and painting from the early age of 15. He was accepted into the prestigious High School of Art & Design in New York City. There he studied with the watercolorist, Irwin Greenberg and illustrator and painter, Max Ginsberg. These both talented and well-known artists instilled in him the values of diligent study from life and the study of the old masters.
After graduation with a Regents Art Diploma, in June of 1985, he took art history classes at Long Island University, Southampton, NY. This year of intense study was crucial for his direction. He found the work of the French Neo-Classicists and the French Academic schools to be guiding lights for his technical study of painting and drawing.
His favorite artists are still the oil painters of the Neo-Classical and French Academic schools and his pastel paintings have the look and feel of an oil painting. Timothy is the founder of his own movement he calls, ‘Neo-Meso Americanism.’ This movement is affected by the recent discoveries of whole Mayan cities from the Late Classic Period, as well as the deciphered glyphs from those same cities. These discoveries are all within the last 15 years! Just as the 18th century archaeologists discovered the ancient Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum from the volcanic ashes of Mount Vesuvius at 79 AD, the jungles of Central America had lifted their veil from the ancient Mayan cities of Palenque, Calakmul and Copan. The 19th century artists painted the ancient Roman world as Timothy, today paints the ancient Mayan world. He is able to read and write ancient Mayan glyphs and they are in his paintings. ‘This gives the work some of the mystery that is The Maya.’ Timothy says.”