American Art – Part I of V: Jaxon Northon
In the words of one writer, “Jaxon Northon is a self-taught oil painter that resides between San Francisco, California and his hometown of Reno, Nevada. He has exhibited his work at The Chapterhouse Gallery, Record Street, The Holland Project, The Lincoln Lounge, The Amber Lounge, The Wonderland Gallery, and Modern Eden Gallery. For the last seven years Northon has made his living off of commissioned portraiture.”
“Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.” – Ben Hecht, American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist called “the Shakespeare of Hollywood,” who was born 28 February 1893.
Some quotes from the work of Ben Hecht:
“I know that a man who tries to convert me to any cause
is actually at work on his own conversion, unless he is looking for funds under the mask of some fancied nobility.”
“Tell it, Fanny. About the crowds, streets, buildings, lights, about the whirligig of loneliness, about the humpty-dumpty clutter of longings. And then explain about the summer parks and the white snow and the moon window in the sky. Throw in a poignantly ironical dissertation on life, on its uncharted aimlessness, and speak like Sherwood Anderson about the desire that stir in the heart. Speak like Remy de Gourmont and Dostoevsky and Stevie Crane, like Schopenhauer and Dreiser and Isaiah; speak like all the great questioners whose tongues have wagged and whose hearts have burned with questions. He will listen bewilderedly and, perhaps, only perhaps, understand for a moment the dumb pathos of your eyes.”
“A wise man will not trust too much those who admire him, even for his wisdom. He knows that an admirer is never truly satisfied until he can substitute pity for his admiration and disdain for his applause. Our admirers are always on the lookout for evidence of our collapse. They find a solace in the fact that our superiority was transitory and that we end as they do—old and useless.”
“I know that man who shows me his wealth
is like the beggar who shows me his poverty;
they are both looking for alms from me,
the rich man for the alms of my envy,
the poor one for the alms of my guilt.”
“People’s sex habits are as well known in Hollywood as their political opinions, and much less criticized.”
“Prejudice is a raft onto which the shipwrecked mind clambers and paddles to safety.”
“I discovered early in my movie work that a movie is never any better than the stupidest man connected with it. There are times when this distinction may be given to the writer or director. Most often it belongs to the producer.”
“Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away.”
“I noticed early that pompous people have actually less a high opinion of themselves than a desire to create such an opinion in others.”
“In Hollywood a starlet is the name for any woman under thirty who is not actively employed in a brothel. ”
Musings in Winter: Ray Bradbury
Painter Ole E. Petterson (born 1944) is a member of the Danish Artist Union.
A Poem for Today
By Sally Bliumis-Dunn
She has painted her lips
The upper lip dips
perfectly in the center
like a Valentine heart.
It makes sense to me—
that the lips, the open
ah of the mouth
is shaped more like a heart
than the actual human heart.
I remember the first time I saw it—
veined and shiny
as the ooze of a snail—
if this were what
we had been taught to draw
American Art – Part II of V: Emily Burns
In the words of one writer, “Emily Burns | Artist Statement Emily’s recent work investigates the inner complexities of women through intimate glimpses of parallel environments. She is interested in the vulnerability of beauty, and the ‘eternalization’ of my subjects through the process of painting. Texture, pixilation, color and sensuality invite the viewer to acknowledge the arousing quality of the images.”
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James, American novelist, essayist, literary critic, biographer, and travel writer, who died 28 February 1916.
Some quotes from the work of Henry James:
“It’s time to start living the life you’ve imagined.”
“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
“I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.”
“We work in the dark – we do what we can – we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”
“Sorrow comes in great waves…but rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us, it leaves us. And we know that if it is strong, we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain.”
“Her reputation for reading a great deal hung about her like the cloudy envelope of a goddess in an epic.”
“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
“Live all you can: it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t matter what you do in particular, so long as you have had your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?”
“I call people rich when they’re able to meet the requirements of their imagination.”
“Never say you know the last word about any human heart.”
“Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.”
“Obstacles are those frightening things you see when you take you eyes off your goal.”
“Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost.”
“And remember this, that if you’ve been hated, you’ve also been loved.”
“Don’t mind anything any one tells you about any one else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.”
“Be not afraid of life believe that life is worth living and your belief will create the fact.”
“Don’t pass it by–the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”
Musings in Winter: Alan Keightley
A Second Poem for Today
By Jim Harrison
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.
Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy
“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”
A Third Poem for Today
By David Livewell
Retired from other trades, they wore
Work clothes again to mop the johns
And feed the furnace loads of coal.
Their roughened faces matched the bronze
Of the school bell the nun would swing
To start the day. They limped but smiled,
Explored the secret, oldest nooks:
The steeple’s clock, dark attics piled
With inkwell desks, the caves beneath
The stage on Bingo night. The pastor
Bowed to the powers in their hands:
Fuses and fire alarms, the plaster
Smoothing a flaking wall, the keys
To countless locks. They fixed the lights
In the crawl space above the nave
And tolled the bells for funeral rites.
Musings in Winter: Nicholas Sparks
French Art – Part I of II: Lea Riviere
Here is one writer describing the career and artistry of Lea Riviere: “Born in France, Lea Riviere studied visual arts, drama and dance in Paris. She completed her studies at the Beaux-Arts in Geneva. Starting in 1984, exhibitions, seminar and study tours enriched her pictorial language. She has been living in Québec since 1990.
She started painting at a very young age with her uncle who taught her the essentials of painting. Her training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva gave her a profound understanding of abstraction, technicality and concept. Léa Rivère’s artistic practice has been focusing on painting the female form, as well as horses, an interest that was derived from her earlier experiences of working in horse therapy. Her vast knowledge of anatomy and movement comes from her years of teaching, which enabled her to truly apprehend the true meaning of motion, form and figuration.”
“To compose our character is our duty, not to compose books, and to win, not battles and provinces, but order and tranquility in our conduct. Our great and glorious masterpiece is to live appropriately. All other things, ruling, hoarding, building, are only little appendages and props, at most.” – Michel de Montaigne, one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance, author of “Essays,” and the father of modern skepticism, who was born 28 February 1533.
Some quotes from the work of Michel de Montaigne:
“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”
“When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.”
“If I speak of myself in different ways, that is because I look at myself in different ways.”
“Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own.”
“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”
“Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.”
“I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.”
“To forbid us anything is to make us have a mind for it.”
“When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?”
“I am afraid that our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and that we have more curiosity than understanding. We grasp at everything, but catch nothing except wind.”
“My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
“The most certain sign of wisdom is cheerfulness. ”
“In nine lifetimes, you’ll never know as much about your cat as your cat knows about you.”
“I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly.”
“Obsession is the wellspring of genius and madness.”
“Confidence in others’ honesty is no light testimony of one’s own integrity.”
“Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”
“Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm or a flea and yet will create Gods by the dozen!”
“I speak the truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare; and I dare a little more as I grow older.”
“My art and profession is to live.”
“To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness, let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death… We do not know where death awaits us: so let us wait for it everywhere.”
“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”
“Let us give Nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do.”
French Art – Part II of II: Claude Sauzet
Here is one writer describing the artistry of Claude Sauzet (born 1941): “Born in the South of France, Claude Sauzet, French painter, studied drawing at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Nîmes. He moved to Paris for more than twenty years. It is in his studio that he redraws the sketches executed from the original life. On the bases of a strong outline, colours and light take the foremost place. His colors, always warm, ochres mixed with reds and browns, tinted with a hint of green or blue, recall his Mediterranean origins.”
Musings in Winter: James Baldwin
“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Kyle Harvey
You’d been gone four months by then,
but we brought you along anyway.
On my back, you rested
riding inside a wooden box.
The idea was to lay you gently
at the water’s surface,
but our clumsy hands spilled you,
and it was hard to tell whether you went head
or feet first, but it didn’t much matter
anyway, I suppose.
You would float on down the creek
until you had reached the next and so on.
My father gave a little wave and joked,
“We’ll see you back on down in Denver, Dad.”
We stood there in silence
listening to you chuckle
From the Movie Archives: Philip Ahn
Died 28 February 1978 – Philip Ahn, a Korean-American actor and the first Asian-American film actor to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Philip Ahn portrayed Master Kan in the “Kung Fu” television series.
American Art – Part III of V: Richard Lorenz
Born on a farm in Voigstaedt, Weimar, Germany, Richard Lorenz (1858-1915) became a painter and illustrator of dramatic scenes in the American West, especially of the Plains Indian culture and the consequences of encounters with the white man’s civilization.
A Fifth Poem for Today
‘Love after Love’
By Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
Musings in Winter: Joseph Campbell
Here is one critic describing the artistry of British painter Tina Spratt (born 1976):“Attracted to the methods of painters such as Lucian Freud and Rembrandt, Tina’s own approach involves emphasizing light and mood. Her present style has been developed through many years of experimenting with palette, textures and perspectives – although the inclusion of fabric within her compositions has always been an enduring feature.
In the context of profound social and cultural change, artists have employed radical approaches to address the body, as both subject and object, and as a means of exploring themes and individuality. The question of how to represent the human figure has preoccupied artists since the earliest times. Many of the great creative struggles of the modern era can be seen as attempts to move beyond or away from studio conventions to achieve a more authentic relationship with the human subject. Technological advances in photography in the twentieth century have led to its increasingly important and innovative role in artistic expression – be it as the final creation or part of a process. Tina’s choice to photograph her subjects and reconstruct the image in oil does not entirely result in a photographic likeness. Instead, she captures an atmosphere and beautifully reveals private, transitory moments.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Lisel Mueller
How swiftly the strained honey
of afternoon light
flows into darkness
and the closed bud shrugs off
its special mystery
in order to break into blossom:
as if what exists, exists
so that it can be lost
and become precious
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Romanian painter Nicolae Maniu (born 1944): “Maniu’s conception of art embraces two aspects: on one hand, the elaboration of a three dimensional composition in a Trompe l’Oeil effect, and on the other, the pushing back of boundaries. He uses a hyperrealist technique to show some surrealist images where the real is mixed with the irrational, the logic with the absurd. The spectator is then astonished by this confusing combination, and enchanted by this mastery in creating such unknown territories. Thus the delight of anyone looking at Maniu’s painting will be complete.”
“The alternative to thinking in evolutionary terms is not to think at all.” – Sir Peter B. Medawar, British biologist and co-recipient of the 1960 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for discovery of acquired immunological tolerance,” who was born 28 February 1915.
Medawar was awarded the 1987 Michael Faraday Prize “for the contribution his books had made in presenting to the public, and to scientists themselves, the intellectual nature and the essential humanity of pursuing science at the highest level and the part it played in our modern culture.” I recommend reading his witty and erudite “Pluto’s Republic.”
Some quotes from the work of Sir Peter B. Medawar:
“The human mind treats a new idea the same way the body treats a strange protein; it rejects it.”
“The lives of scientists, considered as Lives, almost always make dull reading. For one thing, the careers of the famous and the merely ordinary fall into much the same pattern, give or take an honorary degree or two, or (in European countries) an honorific order. It could be hardly otherwise. Academics can only seldom lead lives that are spacious or exciting in a worldly sense. They need laboratories or libraries and the company of other academics. Their work is in no way made deeper or more cogent by privation, distress or worldly buffetings. Their private lives may be unhappy, strangely mixed up or comic, but not in ways that tell us anything special about the nature or direction of their work. Academics lie outside the devastation area of the literary convention according to which the lives of artists and men of letters are intrinsically interesting, a source of cultural insight in themselves. If a scientist were to cut his ear off, no one would take it as evidence of a heightened sensibility; if a historian were to fail (as [John] Ruskin did) to consummate his marriage, we should not suppose that our understanding of historical scholarship had somehow been enriched.”
“How have people come to be taken in by ‘The Phenomenon of Man’? We must not underestimate the size of the market for works of this kind [pseudoscience] for philosophy-fiction. Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.”
“I cannot give any scientist of any age better advice than this: the intensity of a conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing over whether it is true or not.”
“Today the world changes so quickly that in growing up we take leave not just of youth but of the world we were young in.”
Musings in Winter: Tom Hiddleston
American Art – Part IV of V: David Lyle
In the words of one writer, “David Lyle attended the University of California at Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies. His work has been exhibited in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, CA, in France and Japan and has also been featured in publications such as New York Magazine, Modern Painter, New American Paintings, American Artist, Hi-Fructose, Proximity Magazine and Coast Magazine. He resides and creates from his studio in Manhattan.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“Only When I am Quiet and do not speak”
By Jane Hirshfield
Only when I am quiet for a long time
and do not speak
do the objects of my life draw near.
Shy, the scissors and spoons, the blue mug.
Hesitant even the towels,
for all their intimate knowledge and scent of
How steady their regard as they ponder,
dreaming and waking,
the entrancement of my daily wanderings and tasks.
Drunk on the honey of feelings, the honey of purpose,
they seem to be thinking,
a quiet judgment that glistens between the
Yet theirs is not the false reserve
of a scarcely concealed ill-will,
nor that other, active shying: of pelted rocks
No, not that. For I hear the sigh of happiness
each object gives off
if I glimpse for even an instant the actual
As if they believed it possible
I might join
their circle of simple, passionate thusness,
their hidden rituals of luck and solitude,
the joyous gap in them where appears in us
the pronoun ‘I’
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Heidi Robichaud
In the words of one writer, “This artist has been creating scrimshaw since 1981. Heidi’s love of art spans from her childhood passion for drawing horses and princesses to her current portraits of wildlife and indigenous peoples.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Musings in Winter: Alan Watts
“The art of living… is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
American Art – Part V of V: Ivy Jacobsen
In the words of one writer, “Ivy Jacobsen strives to create a place of magical realism in her landscapes, balancing magical elements with real world rendering of flora and fauna found in our natural world. She uses oil paint, bronzing powder, earth pigments, acrylic paint, resin, and other mixed media on canvas and birch panel in creating her paintings. They are composed of many thin layers of glazes slowly built up over time. Through the multiple semi-transparent layers all the colors are visible creating a glowing depth of field. By painting the trees and plant forms in between the layers of glazes the forms begin to occupy various spaces in the foreground and background, further creating the illusion of depth. It is Ivy’s hope that the viewer is invited ‘into’ the painting to fully explore the imaginary environment.”