American Art – Part I of VI: Leona Shanks
Artist Statement: “As an artist, I have much to say. My art is a forum for me to express ideas that are in my consciousness. Images will not leave my mind until I explore them on canvas. My platform for communication is with paintbrush and canvas.
As an artist, I want to paint something that matters and is relevant to contemporary issues. I aspire to make a contribution so that when I leave this earth, maybe I have done something meaningful. A fire rages inside of me to create art that has soul and significance.”
A Poem for Today
By Ralph Angel
All dark morning long the clouds are rising slowly up
beneath us, and we are fast asleep.
The mountains unmove
intensely. And so do we. Meadows
A city there looks up and
stirs a little. Adrift the rolling tiled roofs of
buildings, the deadly
trains of grinding sand and morning—
a spy unfolds his paper,
the coffee’s served.
A bride and groom stand shivering on a tarmac
in the mist, and
they are happy. Each one
and all of us entangled, the room is moist with us,
the house unfinished, windowless,
and we are fast asleep.
The brother of the groom can’t get
close enough. He leans against the brightest ridge
and ladder, the sucking
sound of memory
as heaven picks up speed and
Musings in Winter: Hermann Hesse
“That is just what life is when it is beautiful and happy – a game! Naturally, one can also do all kinds of other things with it, make a duty of it, or a battleground, or a prison, but that does not make it any prettier.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part I of XVIII
“People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbors. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.”
Musings in Winter: Darrell Calkins
“There are as many styles of beauty as there are visions of happiness.”
– Marie-Henri Beyle, known by his pen name Stendhal, French writer and author of “The Red and the Black,” who was born 23 January 1783.
Some quotes from the work of Stendhal:
“All religions are founded on the fear of the many and the cleverness of the few.”
“Our true passions are selfish.”
“Pleasure is often spoiled by describing it.”
“Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness.”
“One can acquire everything in solitude except character.”
“After moral poisoning, one requires physical remedies and a bottle of champagne.”
“Love born in the brain is more spirited, doubtless, than true love, but it has only flashes of enthusiasm; it knows itself too well, it criticizes itself incessantly; so far from banishing thought, it is itself reared only upon a structure of thought.”
“A melancholy air can never be the right thing; what you want is a bored air. If you are melancholy, it must be because you want something, there is something in which you have not succeeded.
It is shewing your inferiority. If you are bored, on the other hand, it is the person who has tried in vain to please you who is inferior.”
“A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.”
“Faith, I am no such fool; everyone for himself in this desert of selfishness which is called life.”
“Nothing is so hideous as an obsolete fashion.”
“Ah, Sir, a novel is a mirror carried along a high road. At one moment it reflects to your vision the azure skies, at another the mire of the puddles at your feet. And the man who carries this mirror in his pack will be accused by you of being immoral! His mirror shews the mire, and you blame the mirror! Rather blame that high road upon which the puddle lies, still more the inspector of roads who allows the water to gather and the puddle to form.”
“The idea which tyrants find most useful is the idea of God.”
Musings in Winter: Henry David Thoreau
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part II of XVIII
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
“There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.” – Edouard Manet, French painter and a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, who was born 23 January 1831.
Musings in Winter: Hermann Hesse
“Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part III of XVIII
“Trees love to toss and sway; they make such happy noises.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part IV of XVIII
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
“I don’t do drugs. I am drugs.” – Salvador Dali, Spanish surrealist painter, who died 23 January 1989.
Musings in Winter: June Stoyer
“Dandelions, like all things in nature are beautiful when you take the time to pay attention to them.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part V of XVIII
“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers…
Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?
The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”
A Second Poem for Today
“The Yellow Bowl”
By Rachel Contreni Flynn
If light pours like water
into the kitchen where I sway
with my tired children,
if the rug beneath us
is woven with tough flowers,
and the yellow bowl on the table
rests with the sweet heft
of fruit, the sun-warmed plums,
if my body curves over the babies,
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part VI of XVIII
“The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It’s proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or ‘accessing’ what we now call ‘information’ – which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Alex Gnidziejko
In the words of one writer, “In the style of heightened realism, Alex Gnidziejko’s paintings are reminiscent of the Dutch masters of the 16th and 17th centuries. Gnidziejko’s painstaking technique of egg tempera emulsion and oil give his paintings a stunning depth and three-dimensional quality. The process he uses starts with a precise under painting with white egg tempera. Using small brush strokes that follow the contour of the subject, Gnidziejko brings definition to the form and accentuates its highlights. Transparent oil glazes of complementary colors are then applied to the painting. By building up many layers of these glazes over luminescent egg tempera, Gnidziejko is able to achieve the life-like quality that characterizes his paintings.”
Musings in Winter: John Muir
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part VII of XVIII
“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”
“Because I see the world poisoned
by cant and brutal self-seeking,
must I be silent about
the useless waterlily, the dunnock’s nest
in the hedgeback?” – From “Balances,” by Norman MacCaig, Scottish poet and teacher, who died 23 January 1996.
I don’t learn much, I’m a man
of no improvements. My nose snuffs the air
in an amateurish way. My profound ideas
were once toys on the floor, I love them, I’ve licked
most of the paint off. A whisky glass
is a rattle I don’t shake. When I love
a person, a place, an object, I don’t see
what there is to argue about.
I learned words, I learned words: but half of them
died for lack of exercise. And the ones I use
often look at me with a look that whispers, Liar.
How I admire the elder duck that dives
with a neat loop and no splash and the gannet that suddenly
harpoons the sea – I’m a guillemot
that still dives
in the first way it thought of: poke your head under
and fly down.
Musings in Winter: Hermann Hesse
“Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part VIII of XVIII
“I sat staring, staring, staring – half lost, learning a new language or rather the same language in a different dialect. So still were the big woods where I sat, sound might not yet have been born.”
Musings in Winter: Wallace Stegner
“‘Oh, listen. Listen!’ A sound like a big crowd a good way off, excited and shouting, getting closer. We stand up and scan the empty sky. Suddenly there they are (the geese), a wavering V headed directly over the hilltop, quite low, beating southward down the central flyway and talking as they pass. We stay quiet suspending our human conversation until their garrulity fades and their wavering lines are invisible in the sky.
They have passed over us like an eraser over a blackboard, wiping away whatever was there before they came.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part IX of XVIII
Musings in Winter: Alan Watts
“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
American Art – Part III of VI: Carol Carter
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Carol Carter: “Having grown up in Florida, my strongest visual impression of an environment for human activity is water. In much of my work, water provides the setting for anonymous figures. Watercolors of nudes, as well as black and white nudes are in my portfolio. The nude swimmer- evocative and sensual watercolour painting is a signature theme.
The paintings contain duality: clarity and ambiguity; sanctuary and threat; pleasure and pain. The use of vibrant, saturated-color contributes to the tension between these extremes.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part X of XVIII
A Third Poem for Today
By Cynthia Rylant
Todd’s Hardware was dust and a monkey—
a real one, on the second floor—
and Mrs. Todd there behind the glass cases.
We stepped over buckets of nails and lawnmowers
to get to the candy counter in the back,
and pointed at the red wax lips,
and Mary Janes,
and straws full of purple sugar.
Said goodbye to Mrs. Todd, she white-faced and silent,
and walked the streets of Beaver,
our teeth sunk hard in the wax,
and big red lips worth kissing.
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XI of XVIII
“So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute…Give your approval to all you cannot understand…Ask the questions that have no answers. Put your faith in two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years…Laugh. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts…Practice resurrection.”
Musings in Winter: Tecumseh
“Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools and robs their spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”
Here is Ukrainian painter Anton Yakutovych (born 1975) discussing his artistry:
“I have been doing etching, lithography and painting since my earliest childhood. These disciplines complement each other, since the graphic arts bring rigour to one’s work and painting a sense of freedom.
I come from a country in the former USSR where classical techniques are still taught in schools and I grew up in a family of artists. I studied in circles where I was kept informed about the social and cultural changes in the world. I have a very pronounced taste for films, rock music and literature. I am naturally part of this post-modern age we live in where popular art, drawing nourishment from high art, has become exceedingly sophisticated.
For each new painting, my point of departure is a series of questions that were left unresolved when I completed the previous one. This first state is one of confusion, a strange impression of having lost the thread. Several pages covered in sketches that contain no real leads and are generally of no use.
Then finally the right rough sketch, the right idea emerges and the thread is restored. Then comes the work on the canvas, followed by a sort of frenzy. Tones, technique and information intermingle.
Eagerness gives way to reason, to restraint, to a long series of coming and goings between doing and looking, until a balance is reached. Once all the elements are in place, an accent, a distinctive characteristic still needs to be found, a surprise that will render the work unique and complete.
My characters exist less for their human properties than for their sculptural quality. The attitudes they adopt in my works are at the service of the composition and the rhythm. The foreground of sculptures in action creates a break in the accumulation of information. Constructing a completely realistic or fantastic scene is of less importance to me than revealing a subtle arrangement of the zones and the planes.
I take the mechanisms of reality as my inspiration and, although I do not reproduce all their workings, they form the basis of my imaginary world. At first sight, what strikes the eye is a series of objects set in a subtle fantasy scene, but if one looks more closely at the work, for example by isolating one particular detail from the rest of the painting, one’s eye will be guided from these familiar objects through a variety of plastic experiences.
The small story the painting tells, the viewer’s identification with it, the role-play, all of these fade into variations on the theme, a sweet obsession of mine. This theme unfolds throughout the exhibition like a collection of scenes in which fragmented harmony, controlled disorder and childhood memories blend and blur into each other to create a multitude of references and interpretations.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XII of XVIII
“I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.”
Musings in Winter: Tsleil-Waututh (Chief Dan George)
A Fourth Poem for Today
“The Paleontologist’s Blind Date”
By Philip Memmer
You have such lovely bones, he says,
holding my face in his hands,
and although I can almost feel
the stone and the sand
sifting away, his fingers
like the softest of brushes,
I realize after this touch
he would know me
years from now, even
in the dark, even
without my skin. Thank you, I smile—
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XIII of XVIII
“Especially among Christians in positions of wealth and power, the idea of reading the Gospels and keeping Jesus’ commandments as stated therein has been replaced by a curious process of logic. According to this process, people first declare themselves to be followers of Christ, and then they assume that whatever they say or do merits the adjective ‘Christian.’”
American Art – Part IV of VI: Louise Peabody
Artist Statement: “My paintings and drawings are emotional narratives that explore the unseen — a subtle world of psychic energy. A reality lies below the surface and is revealed through visual clues. In creating a likeness of my subjects, I transcend their physical presence, capturing the who versus the what in the person before me.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XIV of XVIII
From the American History Archives: The Baker Massacre
23 January 1870 – The United States Cavalry, under the command of Major Eugene Baker, attacks a Blackfoot Indian camp in Montana, resulting in the deaths of 173 Native Americans, most of them women and children. Here is the description of the massacre given by Bear Head, who survived it: “(A)t once all of the seizers began shooting into the lodges. Chief Heavy Runner ran from his lodge toward the seizers on the (river) bank. He was shouting to them and waving a paper … a writing saying that he was a good and peaceful man, a friend of the whites. He had run but a few steps when he fell, his body pierced with bullets.
Inside the lodges men were yelling, terribly frightened women and children screaming, screaming from wounds, from pain as they died. I saw a few men and women escaping from the lodges, shot down as they ran. … I sat before the ruin of my lodge and felt sick. I wished the seizers had killed me, too.”
Below – Major Eugene Baker, center, ninth from left leaning on railing, poses with Army officers at Fort Ellis in this 1870 photograph; The Crazy Dog Society singing at the Baker Massacre Memorial.
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XV of XVIII
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”
Musings in Winter: Barry Lopez
“A Chipewyan guide named Saltatha once asked a French priest what lay beyond the present life. ‘You have told me heaven is very beautiful,’ he said. ‘Now tell me one more thing. Is it more beautiful than the country of the muskoxen in the summer, when sometimes the mist blows over the lakes, and sometimes the water is blue, and the loons cry very often? That is beautiful. If heaven is still more beautiful, I will be glad. I will be content to rest there until I am very old.’”
American Art – Part V of VI: William Wolk
Here is one critic describing the artistic genesis of painter William Wolk (born 1951): “(He) began drawing free-hand charcoal portraits at age eight. By age nine, he was working diligently in oils. At age seventeen, he spent one year in drawing study at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. At eighteen, Wolk moved to Florence, Italy to study at the Academy of Fine Arts. The total absence of a teacher or any instruction at the Academy spurred Wolk on to a year of self-study in the city’s museums and churches. Upon his return to the United States, Wolk had his first one man show in Coral Gables, Florida at age nineteen.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XVI of XVIII
“You can best serve civilization by being against what usually passes for it.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“The One Certain Thing”
By Peter Cooley
A day will come I’ll watch you reading this.
I’ll look up from these words I’m writing now—
this line I’m standing on, I’ll be right here,
alive again. I’ll breathe on you this breath.
Touch this word now, that one. Warm, isn’t it?
You are the person come to clean my room;
you are whichever of my three children
opens the drawer here where this poem will go
in a few minutes when I’ve had my say.
These are the words from immortality.
No one stands between us now except Death:
I enter it entirely writing this.
I have to tell you I am not alone.
Watching you read, Eternity’s with me.
We like to watch you read. Read us again.
“There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XVII of XVIII
Musings in Winter: Black Elk
“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world.
And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father.
According to one critic, the art of Canadian painter Christopher Walker “is best described as perceptual realism. This complex method of analysis of form and composition can only be derived from the actual experience of the subject. The artist attempts to convey a unique interpretation of the subject based on personal associations and intellectual perspectives. The concept then progresses to multiple juxtaposition of various elements to achieve an infinite range of distinctive metaphoric combinations.
Walker’s various artistic influences range from the Renaissance Flemish masters to contemporary realists, impressionists and abstract expressionists. Having experimented in these particular styles, the artist has refined his technique and composition to blending the traditional method with a unique contemporary flair.”
For the Sake of Community and Good Land – Quotes from the Work of Wendell Berry: Part XVIII of XVIII
“When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
Musings in Winter: Elizabeth Gilbert
“I have never felt the need to invent a world beyond this world, for this world has always seemed large and beautiful enough for me. I have wondered why it is not large and beautiful enough for others.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Kevin Griffith
I hold my two-year-old son
under his arms and start to twirl.
His feet sway away from me
and the day becomes a blur.
Everything I own is flying into space:
yard toys, sandbox, tools,
garage and house,
and, finally, the years of my life.
When we stop, my son is a grown man,
and I am very old. We stagger
back into each other’s arms
one last time, two lost friends
heavy with drink,
remembering the good old days.
American Art – Part VI of VI: Jennifer Cronin
Artist Statement: “There is always something that cannot be seen. A before and after. Something just outside, on the fringe, or even teeming just beneath the surface. Building upon the ubiquitous but often concealed psychological underpinnings inherent to suburban life, my paintings create an absurd mythology of the seemingly banal.
I am certainly not alone in my upbringing as a female growing up in the suburbs, yet that aspect of my identity has remained one of the most salient and inescapable to me throughout my life. My earlier paintings vibrate with a dark anxiety with women looking for ways out, attempting to break through an invisible something as we passively watch their struggle. Like a painting, they are trapped within their own beauty, grace, and seduction.
Recently, I have been interested in the fact that my paintings are very unabashedly highly constructed images, just as our reality is construct, perhaps no more real or meaningful than the flat surfaces of the paintings themselves. Sitting on the surface of the canvas, the paint, sometimes thick, drippy, misty, brush strokey, etc. infuses the banal, quiet, domestic space with beauty, horror, drama, tension, and mystique. The paintings themselves grapple with the fact that they are merely paintings. The characters within the paintings confront their existence as merely painted figures. Painted figures struggling to make sense of their existence within seemingly meaningless structures and confines that they are brought into. Painted figures trying to find their way within the backdrop of a painting that is just as incidental and banal as life itself. Painted figures that find ways to cope within their world. Some, like myself, even turn to painting.”