January Offerings – Part XIX: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of III: John Mark Gleadow

In the words of one art critic, “Born in 1976, John Mark Gleadow had already achieved gallery representation by the time he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Delaware in 1999. Renowned for his skill as a draftsman and ability for creating hyperrealstic oil paintings, he has gone on to garner various awards, solo shows and grants and has been met with commercial success in the numerous galleries carrying his work from coast to coast in the United States and beyond.
Early influences on the young artist were Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali and VerMeer.” In Gleadow’s words, “I fell in love with the beauty of their imagery and have always been in awe of their amazing gift for depicting reality, or their version of it. My desire is that my abilities would be used for creating works that are beautiful and that, when viewed as a whole, convince the viewer not only that what they’re seeing is real but that there’s truth in it. For that reason I find strict photorealism a somewhat unsatisfying undertaking.”








A Poem for Today

“Before Dark,”
By Jennifer Barber

They used to mass
in the crowns of oaks
on every street for blocks around
but have gone elsewhere,
the evening no longer
gathered by their feathers
but by the leaves, which blot
whatever light is left to the sky.

Whether we saw the crows
as a barely worth mentioning
image of death for the way
they took over branches
with perfect authority,
whether, where did I hear it, their
numbers were thinned by disease,
nothing avails. They are

missing, the crackle of wings
against the weight of their flight,
beaks that broke open
broadcasting any scrap of news.
Like our children, they carry off
whole years, like the wind-borne thought
of cries never welcome enough
day or night in our ears.

Musings in Winter: D. J. Niko

“This leaf has fallen from its mother and withered. Yet the tree does not mourn the loss. While barren, it stands tall, ready to bear the burden of winter, for it knows that through hardship comes renewal.”

From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Janis Joplin

“Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable.” – Janis Joplin, American singer-songwriter and lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, who was born 19 January 1943.

“Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.” – Paul Cezanne, influential French Post-Impressionist painter, who was born 19 January 1839.

Below – “The Card Players”; “Still Life with a Curtain”; “Madame Cezanne in a Red Dress”; “The Bathers”; “Mardi Gras”; “Self-Portrait with Beret.”







A Second Poem for Today

From “Among the Multitudes,”
By Wislawa Szymborska

I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.

I could have had different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from under another tree.

Nature’s wardrobe
holds a fair supply of costumes:
spider, seagull, field mouse.
Each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.


From the Music Archives – Part II of II: John Stewart

Died 19 January 2008 – John Stewart, an American songwriter and singer known for his contributions to the American folk music movement of the 1960s while with the Kingston Trio (1961 – 1967) and as a the songwriter of The Monkees’ #1 hit “Daydream Believer.”


Musings in Winter: Donald Worster

“We trust ourselves, far more than our ancestors did… The root of our predicament lies in the simple fact that, though we remain a flawed and unstable species, plagued now as in the past by a thousand weaknesses, we have insisted on both unlimited freedom and unlimited power. It would now seem clear that, if we want to stop the devastation of the earth, the growing threats to our food, water, air, and fellow creatures, we must find some way to limit both.”

From the Cinema Archives: Snub Pollard

Died 19 January 1962 – Harry “Snub” Pollard, an American silent film comic actor.

“It’s a Gift” (1923) is the most highly-regarded of Pollard’s short features.

Back to The Pond – Quotes from “Walden”: Part I of III

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Below – Flowers at Walden Pond.

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” – Edgar Allan Poe, American author, editor, literary critic, and influential poet, who was born 19 January 1809.

“A Dream Within a Dream”

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less ‘gone’?
‘All’ that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

Australian painter Anne Smerdon earned a Bachelor of Architectural Design degree from the University of Queensland.
Anne Smerdon

Anne Smerdon

Anne Smerdon

Anne Smerdon

Anne Smerdon

Anne Smerdon


Anne Smerdon



Anne Smerdon

Anne Smerdon

A Third Poem for Today

“Costumes Exchanging Glances,”
By Mary Jo Bang

The rhinestone lights blink off and on.
Pretend stars.
I’m sick of explanations. A life is like Russell said
of electricity, not a thing but the way things behave.
A science of motion toward some flat surface,
some heat, some cold. Some light
can leave some after-image but it doesn’t last.
Isn’t that what they say? That and that
historical events exchange glances with nothingness.

Musings in Winter: Susan Casey

“All three dolphins were magnificent, absolute marvels of the ocean, and by all rights they should have been out in the Pacific, doing what 55 million years of evolution had designed them to do in the most important ecosystem on earth, instead of in here, leaping to the beat of cheesy pop songs.

As I watched, sweat trickled down the back of my neck but something else was rising: anger. The show was soul-crushingly stupid. It was plainly and inanely stupid- all of this was stupid, everything that went on at the cove, the entire arrogant, selfish relationship we had with these animals and with all of nature, as though every bit of life existed only for our purposes. We behaved as though we were gods, deciding the fate of everything, but we weren’t. We were just dumb. I felt a wave of despair wash over me.”

From the American History Archives: Acadia National Park

19 January 1929 – Lafayette National Park in Maine, the oldest National Park east of the Mississippi River, is renamed Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park





American Art – Part II of III: Jeffrey G. Batchelor

Artist Statement: “After years of working as a theatrical scenic painter, I had a broad command of many different styles, but when I decided to embark upon my fine art painting career, it was realism that proved to be my strong suit. Although time-consuming and labor-intensive, it was always in realism that I found my voice, and in realism that I was able to stand out from the throngs of hopeful artists. I have continued to reach for higher levels of detail, and to show realism in a way that allows the viewer to see and embrace my subjects with an understanding that they might not have had otherwise. I do not use an airbrush, a tool often prized by artists who paint on my level of realism. I have great respect for those artists who use it well, but I myself prefer glazes and blending, and a more tactile involvement with my work.

 Conceptually, my work ranges from straight realism to surrealism, and from rectangular canvases to shaped canvas panels that I build, thanks to my extensive training in theatrical scenic construction. In my glass pieces I seek to produce a spectacle of understanding within complexity. Often working with magnifiers, I delineate and define the myriad of reflections and refractions that exist within thick blown and cut crystal – realism for realism’s sake. When realism becomes too constraining for me, I like to reach into surrealism, to take an idea or a concept and develop it with a magical flavor. This allows me to elicit the viewer’s thought processes and visually define a concept, idea, or feeling. When a rectangle becomes constraining, I create shaped panels that I paint in trompe-l’oiel fashion. This gives me endless possibilities for shape and depth illusions.

 I have great appreciation for all styles and approaches to painting, but I know what is the truth for me, so, ‘To thine own self be true…’ I am an ultra-realist painter. It is hard. It is a lot of work, and I’ll never be able to create as much as I’d like. However, I must paint to the best of my ability; to do less would be to do dishonor to the gift I’ve been given. I must, at the end of the day, be proud of my work. And I am.”









Back to The Pond – Quotes from “Walden”: Part II of III

“A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

Below – An aerial view of Walden Pond.

A Fourth Poem for Today

“I Found a 1950s ‘Answer and Color-in Book’,”
By Jennifer Barber

One day the children played

in the kitchen.
in the cellar.
in the yard.

The yard looked like

a meadow.
a forest.
an island in the sea.

The children forgot their

mud cakes,
swing set,

when a girl taught them

cat’s cradles.
clay people.
folded paper boats.

Late afternoon, whispering, they lay

in a sandbox.
on the sidewalk.
in the grass.

Each knew the others had

a mother.
a father.
brothers, sisters, dogs.

They traded blood oaths that foretold

how close.
how long.
at what cost.

Spanish Art – Part I of II: Imma Merino

Here is how one critic describes the artistry of Spanish painter Imma Merino (born 1964): “Since Imma Merino was a child, she needed to express herself and she resorted to the act of drawing and painting in a natural way. She passed her childhood and youth studying and becoming perfect in an art that she finds enthusiastic. This art offers her a way of expressing all the love she feels for every living thing, and the opportunity of analyzing the spirituality and beauty of what surrounds her.”






Musings in Winter: Captain Elwin Hartley Edwards

“The horse is by Nature a very lazy animal whose idea of heaven is an enormous field of lush grass in which he can graze undisturbed until his belly is full, and after a pleasant doze can start filling himself up all over again.”

“And I to my motorcycle
Parked like the soul of the junkyard
Restored, a bicycle fleshed
With power, and tore off
Up Highway 106 continually
Drunk on the wind in my mouth
Wringing the handlebar for speed
Wild to be wreckage forever.” – From “Cherrylog Road,” by James Dickey, American poet and novelist, who died 19 January 1997.

“The Heaven of Animals”

Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.

Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.

To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing, desperately
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.

For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done,
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,

More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey

May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk

Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain

At the cycle’s center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.

Below – “The Peaceable Kingdom,” by Edward Hicks.

Musings in Winter: Umair Siddiqui

“There is no place like the beach… where the land meets the sea and the sea meets the sky.”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“A Shropshire Lad: 52: Far in a western brookland,”
By A. E. Housman

Far in a western brookland
That bred me long ago
The poplars stand and tremble
By pools I used to know.

There, in the windless night-time,
The wanderer, marvelling why,
Halts on the bridge to hearken
How soft the poplars sigh.

He hears: long since forgotten
In fields where I was known,
Here I lie down in London
And turn to rest alone.

There, by the starlit fences,
The wanderer halts and hears
My soul that lingers sighing
About the glimmering weirs.

Spanish Art – Part II of II: Cesar Prada

Here is one critic describing the background of Spanish painter Cesar Prada: “But the future painter and sculptor (now in the prime artistic coming of age) is a restless, maverick, who feels a deep curiosity before any new experience. For the irresistible call of the horizon of dreams, to plunge into the adventure of the unknown, the adventure of living. Therefore, it is risky not imagine on the streets, at home, in the Garden of Posío exciting learning and assimilating the lesson of life. Ultimately learning the lesson of Scherezade, i.e., save life with the help of art and survive the squalor, mediocrity, and narrowness of each threatening destination.”









A Sixth Poem for Today

By Wendell Berry

If you are not to become a monster,
you must care what they think.
If you care what they think,

how will you not hate them,
and so become a monster
of the opposite kind? From where then

is love to come—love for your enemy
that is the way of liberty?
From forgiveness. Forgiven, they go

free of you, and you of them;
they are to you as sunlight
on a green branch. You must not

think of them again, except
as monsters like yourself,
pitiable because unforgiving.

Musings in Winter: William Faulkner

“Who owned no property and never desired to since the earth was no man’s but all men’s, as light and air and weather were.”

Back to The Pond – Quotes from “Walden”: Part III of III

“Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.”

Below – A replica of Henry David Thoreau’s Cabin at Walden Pond.

American Art – Part III of III: George Yepes

Artist Statement: “I speak with my brush.”
Here is how one writer describes Yepes’ artistry: “When it comes to sheer touch that combines beautiful control over line and brushwork, yet seemingly spontaneous expression, George Yepes is among the best. His darkly romantic excess can’t help but make you think he would have been Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s (1828 – 1882, London, England), equal among the Pre-Raphaelites. But these saints and sinners are hardly a throwback. Yepes’ painting has a visual density and suggestiveness that is as
tantalizing to the intellect as it is arresting for the eye.”










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