American Art – Part I of X: Cedar Lee
Artist Statement: “am inadvertently drawn to play with scale, both visually and in my choice of subject matter. Many of my paintings are of large things, sometimes unfathomably large, highlighting the smallness of the viewer. With my choice of exaggerated angles, my trees zoom dramatically into the sky higher than the eye can see. I also play with the scale of time. Ancient redwood trees are rooted in the past and will outlive us all, but even so they are impermanent as any other life on Earth. I am attracted to Tree of Life imagery, and images of the cosmos, because these are all-encompassing, a glimpse into the universe. I want to capture the experience of being simultaneously present both in our distinct, tangible bodies –grounded–and in our mysterious, limitless minds –flying.”
Musings in Winter: Thomas King
“The yard consisted of grass and a Russian Olive tree, which was about the only kind of tree able to survive on the high prairies. Its thin, grey leaves made it look as though it were on the verge of dying, thereby fooling the elements and the bad weather into thinking that they didn’t have to bother with something so spindly and bent, something so obviously on its last legs.”
In the words of one writer, “Eliseo d’Angelo Visconti (1866-1944) was an Italian-born Brazilian painter, cartoonist and teacher. He is considered one of the very few impressionist painters of Brazil. He is considered the initiator of the Art Nouveau in Brazil.
He entered in 1884 the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios do Rio de Janeiro, where studied under Victor Meireles. Parallel to his studies in the Liceu, he entered the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes (Brazilian Imperial Academy) studying under professors Henrique Bernardelli, Rodolfo Amoedo and Jose Maria de Medeiros.”
Some quotes from the work of Abraham Lincoln:
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be”
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“And in the end it is not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
“My Best Friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.”
“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.”
“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.”
“Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to
succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.”
“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
American Art – Part II of X: Anne Schreivogle
In the words of one writer, “As a spontaneous, creative and intuitive artist, Anne seeks to transmit the joy she sees and feels in everyday activities onto canvas. In her studio, her whimsical work is primarily in acrylic, though she also paints plein air oil landscapes. She always carries a pen and sketchpad whether she’s studied in France, taught English in Japan, or during her travels by bicycle across the U.S.”
Musings in Winter: Kimberly Sabatini
“Out in the open field of flowers, I could feel the sun and see how every golden blossom faced the light… I knew that if I stayed there long enough, the flowers would follow the path of the sun across the sky. It seemed like they knew what they were doing, and at least for a little while, I wanted to be part of that.”
Italian Art – Part I of II: Pietro Canonica
“The aim of the artist is to study truth in its purest form, concentrating the greatest possible emotion on it.” According to one writer, “with these words Pietro Canonica (1869-1959) declared his predilection for an art capable of idealising and yet at the same time expressing the most secret motions of the soul. In his sculptures he combines the proportions and balance of classical art, the refined models of fifteenth century Florentine work, the lightness of touch of neoclassicism, Romantic disquietude and nineteenth century sensibility. Gifted with an absolute mastery of technique and great ability and speed in working the material, he received commissions from the aristocracy of all Europe, who sought after his refined taste and idealization.”
Musings in Winter: F. T. McKinstry
American Art – Part III of X: Kristin Kunc
Here is how one critic describes the artistry of American Kristin Kunc (born 1978): “Whether they feature a pristine stream, a glass of deep red wine, or the faces of the people around her, Kristin’s works are suffused with inner light and soft color. She paints true to the classical style, with a sense of timelessness and longevity to the work. Her portraits, which comprise the lion’s share of her current work, will remain lovely and desirable regardless of temporary trends and fads in the art world.”
A Poem for Today
“The Soul Bone”
By Susan Wood
Once I said I didn’t have a spiritual bone
in my body and meant by that
I didn’t want to think of death,
as though any bone in us
could escape it. Maybe
I was afraid of what I couldn’t know
for certain, a thud like the slamming
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable
as that. What was the soul anyway,
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness?
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it,
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth
that falls from a child’s mouth, a dove,
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones,
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn,
the white ones they call boneset, for healing,
or the others, pearly everlasting.
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond,
depending on which rabbi was telling the story,
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base,
depending. No one’s ever seen it, of course,
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it,
shining its light through my body, the bone
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes,
if you listen, you might even hear that light
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.
Italian Art – Part II of II: Matteo Pugliese
In the words of one writer, “Italian sculptor Matteo Pugliese was born in Milan. In 1978 his family moved to Sardinia where Matteo lived for the next 12 years. During this time he developed a strong love for drawing and sculpture and continued his art work without any formal education. After finishing his secondary school studies in classics in Cagliari, he returned to Milan to attend university.
In 1995 he was awarded his degree in Modern literature at the University of Milan with a graduation thesis on Art criticism.”
Musings in Winter: Rachel Carson
“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
From the Music Archives: Eubie Blake
“Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind—listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody.” – James Herbert “Eubie” Blake, American composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music, who died 12 February 1983 at age 100.
American Art – Part IV of X: John Pototschnik
In the words of one writer, “British-born American painter John Pototschnik (Poe-toe-sh-nick) was born in St. Ives, Cornwall, England but grew up in Wichita, Kansas. He received his art training at Wichita State University in advertising design, followed by instruction in illustration and design at Art Center College in Los Angeles. Most recently he has studied human anatomy at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Geoffrey Paul Gordon
Why not speak out
among the silently praying?
Consider the futility of quiet.
This is my thought:
That healing is active,
This is my belief:
That the unspoken is unknown,
This is my hope:
That knowledge is strength.
I remember lives taken,
Lives risked and lost,
Tears shed unashamedly,
The surviving world in an embrace
Like at the end of a long slow dance;
The dancers tired and leaning
On each other for support,
The musicians waiting to pack up,
The dancers clinging and closing their eyes, exhausted,
But wishing for just one more song.
In the words of one writer, “Wojciech Weiss (1875-1950) was a Polish painter, draughtsman and graphic artist, a student, professor and Rector of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, representative of the Expressionist Young Poland art movement and of the Colouristic tendencies of the 1920s and 1930s.”
“We never know what’s in us till we stand by ourselves.” – George Meredith, English novelist, poet, and author of “The Egoist,” who was born 12 February 1828.
“Dirge in Woods”
A wind sways the pines,
Not a breath of wild air;
Still as the mosses that glow
On the flooring and over the lines
Of the roots here and there.
The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
“I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa.” – Grant Wood, American painter, who died 12 February 1942.
Musings in Winter: Jack Kerouac
“Sixty three sunsets I saw revolve on that perpendicular hill – mad raging sunsets pouring in sea foams of cloud through unimaginable crags like the crags you grayly drew in pencil as a child, with every rose-tint of hope beyond, making you feel just like them, brilliant and bleak beyond words.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Judith Barrington
A word is elegy to what it signifies –
The thinking, old and new, is still about loss-
so many pages filled with decaying Edens:
places where poets, lovers, thoughtful people,
made the old mistake of going back:
Tintern Abbey, blousy with candy wrappers;
Fern Hill faded from carefree green to mud;
New Brunswick woods, crossed by nocturnal buses,
but never bringing forth from scratchy shadows
that perfect, ambling moose, high as a church-
Bishop’s sad-faced harbinger of joy.
Yet even knowing this, I enter the gash
in the chalky hills, try to rekindle the past
with steps that slide on trampled, grubby grass
and search again for my body’s imprint, stretched
deep in daisies, purple clover holding
the shape of someone young, someone flat
on her back, gazing past small brown bees,
the sky smudged with wavering vapor trails
of planes headed south where I always wanted to go.
The word is honeysuckle; the life was sweet.
Died 12 February 1997 – Walter Ritchie, a British sculptor. Because Ritchie believed that art should be on display in public places, much of his work has been lost, since he carved it into the brickwork of buildings that have been demolished.
Musings in Winter: Charmian Hussey
“Our poems will have failed if our readers are not brought by them beyond the poems.” – Muriel Rukeyser, American poet and political activist, who died 12 February 1980.
“Waiting for Icarus”
He said he would be back and we’d drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don’t cry
I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying: Inventors are like poets, a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added: Women who love such are the worst of all
I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.
Musings in Winter: Marjory Stoneman Douglas
“The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is a river of grass.”
American Art – Part VI of X: John Porter Lasater IV
In the words of one art historian, “John Porter Lasater the Fourth developed a love for art working as a designer and illustrator for a division of Hallmark Cards. Fine art was a natural transition after years of study and practice. John now paints full time, both from his studio in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, and on the road painting ‘En plein air.’ He also teaches workshops.”
Musings in Winter: Jay Griffiths
“What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is. Unmistakable, unforgettable, unshakable, elemental as earth and ice, water, fire and air, a quintessence, pure spirit, resolving into no constituents. Don’t waste your wildness: it is precious and necessary.”
“Prof. Crevett: And then there is the cloud.
Alan Brooks: What cloud?
Prof. Crevett: Come on, Alan, you know what I’m talking about. The cloud where there should be no cloud.
Alan Brooks: Where there are mountains, there are always clouds.
Prof. Crevett: But this one remains static. On the side of the Trollenberg. It never moves.
Alan Brooks: A freak of nature.
Prof. Crevett: A radioactive freak of nature?” – Dialogue from the British movie “The Trollenberg Terror” (1958 – released in the United States as “The Crawling Eye”), starring Forrest Tucker (as Alan Brooks), American movie and television actor, who was born 12 February 1919.
In addition to “The Crawling Eye” (which is in part a tribute to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos), Forrest Tucker starred in another low-budget cinematic gem made in Britain – “The Abominable Snowman” (1957 – released in the United States as “The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas”).
I own DVD copies of both these movies, and so you know that they must be good.
Below – Forrest Tucker; ruthless American entrepreneur Tom Friend (right – played by Forrest Tucker) conversing with idealistic British scientist John Rollason (played by Peter Cushing) in “The Abominable Snowman.” If you watch this movie, you will never forget the importance of the line, “There is no Yeti.”; Alan Brooks (right – played by Tucker) discussing a radioactive cloud (see dialogue, above) with Professor Crevett (played by Warren Mitchell). Brooks and Crevett are going to try to save the world from homicidal alien creatures, but will they succeed?!
American Art – Part VII of X: Wes Christensen
Artist Statement: “The ‘issues’ surrounding figure painting, and representational art in general, are created by people who don’t do it. My main concern is to communicate clearly to anyone who wants to look, and to invite viewers to interact with the imagery, to engage in a sort of imaginative conversation. The illusionist technique needed to create this fictive environment is important, but it must not be a distraction if I hope to succeed. In the English tradition of the ‘conversation piece,’ I try to make illustrations for stories not yet written.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Letter to His Daughter”
By Philip Dacey
When the light fails, say
this is the time for the light to fail,
the time I expected, and wrap yourself
in the darkness, which has fur
inside it and hums old animal tunes.
I won’t be there, but I will.
A room will be there, and water
from a tap, and street sounds
that echo the words two stars
exchanged long years ago:
one star said, Fay, and the other nodded
and said, Fay, back. These stars knew,
and have been trying ever since to tell
the world what they knew. Remember
you’ve got a purpose. The stars need you
In the words of one writer, “Robert Antoine Pinchon studied at Lycée Pierre-Corneille in Rouen at the turn of the century. Two other students in his class also became well-known artists and lasting friends: Marcel Duchamp and Pierre Dumont. Claude Monet referred to him ‘as a surprising touch in the service of a surprising eye.’
Among Robert Antoine Pinchon’s important works are a series of paintings of the River Seine, mostly around Rouen and landscapes depicting places in or near Upper Normandy.”
Musings in Winter: Sam Walter Foss
“The woods were made for the hunter of dreams,
The brooks for the fishers of song;
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The streams and the woods belong.
There are thoughts that moan from the soul of pine
And thoughts in a flower bell curled;
And the thoughts that are blown with scent of the fern
Are as new and as old as the world.”
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” – Charles Darwin, English naturalist, geologist, and author of “On the Origin of Species,” who was born 12 February 1809.
Some quotes from the work of Charles Darwin:
If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.”
“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
“I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”
“I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men.”
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”
“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”
“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities… still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”
“An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.”
“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.”
“Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with the social instincts which in us would be called moral.”
“Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.”
“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.”
“I am not the least afraid to die.”
American Art – Part VIII of X: David Carmack Lewis
In the words of one writer, “David’s richly colored oils on canvas have evolved from thought provoking figure studies in symbolically rich scenarios to evocative nocturnal landscapes. He says, ‘at night colors either vanish into darkness or are transformed by the light source illuminating them. My recent work explores the variety and contrasts of different light sources and their interplay with darkness, while I continue to pursue my interest in narrative image making.’”
Musings in Winter: Mikhail Lermontov
“A childish feeling, I admit, but, when we retire from the conventions of society and draw close to nature, we involuntarily become children: each attribute acquired by experience falls away from the soul, which becomes anew such as it was once and will surely be again.”
From the American History Archives: Ethan Allen
“In those parts of the world where learning and science has prevailed, miracles have ceased; but in those parts of it as are barbarous and ignorant, miracles are still in vogue.” – Ethan Allen, American farmer, businessman, philosopher, writer, and American Revolutionary War patriot, politician, leader of the Green Mountain Boys, and hero, who died 12 February 1789.
Most contemporary Americans probably associate the name “Ethan Allen” with a furniture store.
In the words of one writer, “John Meyer is one of South Africa’s leading contemporary realists. Born 1942, Meyer has put his indelible stamp on the genres of landscape, portraiture and narrative art. Meyer became a professional painter in 1972. Since then he has travelled extensively, painting landscapes from Nevada to Norway. He has exhibited consistently in the United States, Europe and South Africa, developing an international profile that few South African artists have achieved. Since the early 1990’s Meyer has concentrated almost exclusively on what he calls the narrative genre – enigmatic figures caught in emotional ambiguities – representing a new direction to his art.”
Musings in Winter: Marty Rubin
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Vitamins and Roughage,”
By Kenneth Rexroth
Strong ankled, sun burned, almost naked,
The daughters of California
Educate reluctant humanists;
Drive into their skulls with tennis balls
The unhappy realization
That nature is still stronger than man.
The special Hellenic privilege
Of the special intellect seeps out
At last in this irrigated soil.
Sweat of athletes and juice of lovers
Are stronger than Socrates’ hemlock;
And the games of scrupulous Euclid
Vanish in the gymnopaedia.
Musings in Winter: Sara Maitland
“I believe that the great stretches of forests in northern Europe, with their constant seasonal changes, their restricted views, their astonish biological diversity, their secret gifts and perils and the knowledge that you have to go through them to get anywhere else, created the themes and ethics of the fairy tales we know best. There are secrets, hidden identities, cunning disguises; there are rhythms of change like the changes of the seasons; there are characters, both human and animal, whose assistance can be earned or spurned; and there is — over and over again — the journey or quest, which leads first to knowledge and then to happiness. The forest is the place of trial in fairy stories, both dangerous and exciting. Coming to terms with the forest, surviving its terrors, utilising its gifts and gaining its help is the way to ‘happy ever after.’”
In the words of one critic, “Norwegian artist and singer Kristin Blix divides her time between her Oregon home and her Scandinavian homeland. She first came to America in 2001 while fronting the alternative rock band Guards of Metropolis and started painting while on a break from a lengthy U.S. tour in 2006. She most recently contributed to a forthcoming record by the band Thriftstore Masterpiece (alongside members of Modest Mouse, Pixies, The Dandy Warhols, and Art Brut) by singing on several of the tracks and illustrating each of the ten songs for the album artwork.”
Musings in Winter: Helen Keller
“Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of sunbeams. Press the soft blossoms against your cheek, and finger their graces of form, their delicate mutability of shape, their pliancy and freshness. Expose your face to the aerial floods that sweep the heavens, ‘inhale great draughts of space,’ wonder, wonder at the wind’s unwearied activity. Pile note on note the infinite music that flows increasingly to your soul from the tactual sonorities of a thousand branches and tumbling waters. How can the world be shriveled when this most profound, emotional sense, touch, is faithful to its service? I am sure that if a fairy bade me choose between the sense of sight and that of touch, I would not part with the warm, endearing contact of human hands.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Kristopher Saknussemm
You know what I miss most?
Watching you try to fold maps.
And the way you always waited
until you were in the car
to spray on your perfume.
Do you still drive out through
the oil derricks when you need
time to think? Can you still drive?
My father says he can, and he’s been
dead as long as you.
And I miss the smell of your skin
when you got hot dancing—
sitting in those cane chairs
listening to that stupid parrot.
My old man comes back at night
to drink Old Crow with me.
Old man, old crow. Hah. He knows.
Come back and smell like limes
and White Shoulders perfume and we’ll drink
Tanqueray and ice. Come back to me
and we’ll count mirages all the way
to Mazatlan. Please. I have one arm
out the window—and one hand on the wheel.
Back from the Territory – Part I of II: Art
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
American Art – Part IX of X: Carol Grigg
In the words of one writer, “Carol Grigg’s poetry, music, writing, philosophy, sculpting, potting, and painting reflect the essence of her very special being. She is a whole person, consistent, confident and truly devoted to her beliefs. She believes in the land and preserving the environment we have left, the animals and preserving what species we have left, the unity of nature and the simplicity of the relationship between man, earth and beast. Carol’s Oregon childhood inspired her strong feelings for the environment and her coming of age in the 60’s gave her courage to become involved, contribute and use her talents and means to make a difference.”
Back from the Territory – Part II of II: The Yukon Quest
In the words of one writer, “The Yukon Quest 1,000 Mile International Sled Dog Race gets its name from the ‘highway of the north,’ which is the Yukon River and the historical winter land routes travelled by prospectors, adventurers and mail and supply carriers traveling between the gold fields of the Klondike and those in the Alaska interior.”
Watching the brave riders and their indefatigable dogs leave Fairbanks on their way to Whitehorse was one of the most exciting and fulfilling moments of my life. I kept thinking, “Jack London, I am here.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
American Art – Part X of X: Tommer Gonser
In the words of one writer, “Tommer Gonser’s oil paintings on canvas with their bold palettes and dynamic patterns are reminiscent of the early modernist abstractionists. The uniqueness and mystery of his art is in large part the essence of his abstractions. He is influenced by his daily life and carries over on to the canvas his recent or more distant past. ‘Today I am painting yesterday. Tomorrow I will be painting today.’ Experiences such as a childhood spent surrounded by the beauty of Colorado and later years spent in the outdoors of Alaska rock climbing, fishing, kayaking, bike riding, hiking, and camping are among his influences. An inspired song writer and musician, Tommer plays the guitar, sings and writes music in a style that is as unique as his paintings.”