March Offerings – Part III: Something to Delight both Head and Heart

American Art – Part I of IV: Jack Cassinetto

In the words of one writer, “Jack’s unique style is a blend of old and new, guided by a love of shadows as revealed by the changing light of day. His work reflects many hours spent at the Oakland Museum studying the Plein Air painters of the early 1900’s, such as Xavier Martinez, Gottardo Piazzoni and Arthur Mathews. His paintings clearly show that influence. Jack’s frames, salvaged from flea markets and antique shops, are often from the early 1900’s. He also creates his own frames, replete with figures and carvings to enhance the mood and setting of particular paintings. Plein Air magazine featured Jack in their 2004 inaugural issue. His artwork was shown in the September 1995 issue of American Art Bungalow in an article entitled, “Plein Air Paintings: Windows on the Walls” and was named “Best of the West” in the February 1998 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Jack received his B.A. in Art and English from Sacramento University in 1966 and his M.A. in Art from the University of Northern Colorado in 1972. He spent the ensuing years experimenting with a variety of subjects and artistic media. Jack settled on landscapes in the distinctive style of early California Plein Air and Decorative Style painters.”

Below – “Golden Gate”; “Near Bodega Bay”; “Eucalyptus Reflections, Marin”; “Just Off Highway 1”; “Tamalpais Valley.”





A Poem for Today

“A Brook in the City”
By Robert Frost

The farmhouse lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear
A number in. But what about the brook
That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown
Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run —
And all for nothing it had ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder
If from its being kept forever under,
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.

Australian Art – Part I of III: Zai Kuang

Chinese painter Zai Kuang (born 1962) moved to Australia in 1998.





Musings in Winter: Andy Rooney

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”

From the American History Archives: “The Star-Spangled Banner”

3 March 1931 – President Hoover signs the congressional resolution making the “The Star-Spangled Banner” the national anthem of the United States.

Australian Art – Part II of III: Ernesto Arrisueno

In the words of one writer, “Ernesto Arrisueño was born in Lima, Peru in 1957, a time when migration to Australia was almost exclusively from Britain and Europe. In the past decade however, Australian life has been enriched by migration from many South American countries. Arrisueño studied art in Lima before completing a Bachelor of Architecture degree at Ricardo Palma University.”





Musings in Winter: Christopher McCandless

“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

A Second Poem for Today

“The Transfer”
By Elise Hempel

His car rolls up to the curb, you switch
your mood, which doll to bring and rush

out again on the sliding steps
of your shoes half-on, forgetting to zip

your new pink coat in thirty degrees,
teeth and hair not brushed, already

passing the birch, mid-way between us,
too far to hear my fading voice

calling my rope of reminders as I
lean out in my robe, another Saturday

morning you’re pulled toward his smile, his gifts,
sweeping on two flattened rafts

from mine to his, your fleeting wave
down the rapids of the drive.

Australian Art – Part III of III: Graeme Balchin

Artist Statement: “We live in a time where technology has advanced to the point we no longer need a camera to make a great image. For the commercial world, technology is the future, for it has embraced the new mediums with open arms. With this in mind, I am constantly amazed with the amount of artists who still use traditional mediums and methods simply because they wish too. I am one of those people, who has a compelling desire that borders on an insane obsession, to paint and draw. Painting has been and still is a successful way of recording history, but I feel it is also an integral part of human endeavor; the need to achieve excellence in creation.”







Musings in Winter: Carl Sagan

“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”

“You can’t walk alone. Many have given the illusion, but none have really walked alone. Man is not made that way. Each man is bedded in his people, their history, their culture, and their values.” – Peter Abrahams, South African novelist, journalist, political commentator, and author of “Mine Boy,” who was born 3 March 1919.

Some quotes from the work of Peter Abrahams:

“With Shakespeare and poetry, a new world was born. New dreams, new desires, a self consciousness was born. I desired to know to know myself in terms of the new standards set by these books.”
“Many have changed so much that they have lost the magic of the dream that carried them on their own bootstraps.”
“To get where you want to go you can’t only do what you like.”

Here is the Artist Statement of New Zealand painter Callum Arnold (born 1973):
“My new work is primarily concerned with geographic experience and the transpositions of media upon that knowledge. The understanding of the visual world through photography, film and T.V. has given the viewer an experience mediated through technology.
The inherent spiritual nature of the land has become diffused through the context of new media and associations are made from its own visual history. The act of looking for dramatic panoramic landscapes in dislocated spaces is limited to viewing from roads and the visual memory contained within sequential photographic records.
Using multiple images within the borders of a single work the visual experience is reconstructed through the process of drawing and digital media which create new surreal environments. Through the act of painting the visual image is no longer an accurate rendering of the actual world but a collaboration of processes.”





Musings in Winter: Gregory David Roberts

“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, you just don’t get the joke.”

A Third Poem for Today

“Sixty Years Later I Notice, Inside A Flock Of Blackbirds”
By David Allan Evans

the Venetian blinds
I dusted off

for my mother on
Saturday mornings,

closing, opening them
with the pull cord a few

times just to watch the outside
universe keep blinking,

as the flock suddenly
rises from November stubble,

hovers a few seconds,
closing, opening,

blinking, before it tilts,
then vanishes over a hill.

From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Carlos Montoya

Died 3 March 1993 – Carlos Montoya, a Spanish guitarist and a founder of the modern-day popular Flamenco style of music.

American Art – Part II of IV: Mimi Jensen

In the words of one writer, “In her still life work, Mimi Jensen presents an often playful mix of everyday objects. With a photographer’s eye for composition, she chooses things that intrigue or please or even annoy her.
Jensen then carefully arranges the sometimes quirky ensemble, which she paints life-size from an orthographic perspective. She hopes the viewer will notice each element’s texture and color and shape, and examine the interplay of the whole. The allure of the still life revived in 2003, when an invigorating workshop experience inspired her to paint in a realistic style she’d never before considered.”





“Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion.” – Arthur Koestler, Hungarian-British writer, journalist, and author of “Darkness at Noon,” who died 1 March 1983.

Some quotes from the work of Arthur Koestler:

“The principal mark of genius is not perfection but originality, the opening of new frontiers.”
“I think most historians would agree that the part played by impulses of selfish, individual aggression in the holocausts of history was small; first and foremost, the slaughter was meant as an offering to the gods, to king and country, or the future happiness of mankind. The crimes of a Caligula shrink to insignificance compared to the havoc wrought by Torquemada. The number of victims of robbers, highwaymen, rapists, gangsters and other criminals at any period of history is negligible compared to the massive numbers of those cheerfully slain in the name of the true religion, just policy or correct ideology. Heretics were tortured and burnt not in anger but in sorrow, for the good of their immortal souls. Tribal warfare was waged in the purported interest of the tribe, not of the individual. Wars of religion were fought to decide some fine point in theology or semantics. Wars of succession dynastic wars, national wars, civil wars, were fought to decide issues equally remote from the personal self-interest of the combatants.
Let me repeat: the crimes of violence committed for selfish, personal motives are historically insignificant compared to those committed ad majorem gloriam Dei, out of a self-sacrificing devotion to a flag, a leader, a religious faith or a political conviction. Man has always been prepared not only to kill but also to die for good, bad or completely futile causes. And what can be a more valid proof of the reality of the self-transcending urge than this readiness to die for an ideal?”
“Creative activity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.”
“Satan, on the contrary, is thin, ascetic and a fanatical devotee of logic. He reads Machiavelli, Ignatius of Loyola, Marx and Hegel; he is cold and unmerciful to mankind, out of a kind of mathematical mercifulness. He is damned always to do that which is most repugnant to him: to become a slaughterer, in order to abolish slaughtering, to sacrifice lambs so that no more lambs may be slaughtered, to whip people with knouts so that they may learn not to let themselves be whipped, to strip himself of every scruple in the name of a higher scrupulousness, and to challenge the hatred of mankind because of his love for it–an abstract and geometric love.”
“Creativity is the defeat of habit by originality.”
“The ‘gallows’ are not only a symbol of death, but also a symbol of cruelty, terror and irreverence for life; the common denominator of primitive savagery, medieval fanaticism and modern totalitarianism.”
“History had a slow pulse; man counted in years, history in generations.”
“I went to Communism as one goes to a spring of fresh water, and I left Communism as one clambers out of a poisoned river strewn with the wreckage of flooded cities and the corpses of the drowned.”
“Some of the greatest discoveries…consist mainly in the clearing away of psychological roadblocks which obstruct the approach to reality; which is why, ‘post factum’ they appear so obvious.”
“Our Press and our schools cultivate Chauvinism, militarism, dogmatism, conformism and ignorance. The arbitrary power of the Government is unlimited, and unexampled in history; freedom of the Press, of opinion and of movement are as thoroughly exterminated as though the proclamation of the Rights of Man had never been. We have built up the most gigantic police apparatus, with informers made a national institution, and the most refined scientific system of political and mental torture. We whip the groaning masses of the country towards a theoretical future happiness, which only we can.”

Here is one critic describing the artistry of Russian painter Volodia Popov (1961): “Volodia Popov is an artist for whom there are no stylistic borders. The horizons of his creativity are opened widely to meet the seven winds. At any time filled with salty energy sails can transfer the clipper of his inexhaustible imagination to unfamiliar mysterious coast of new terra incognita.”






Musings in Winter: Robin Hobb

“Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die.
True courage is about facing life without flinching. I don’t mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I’m talking about enduring the boredom, the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

By Ted Kooser

On a parking lot staircase
I met two fine-looking men
descending, both in slacks
and dress shirts, neckties
much alike, one of the men
in his sixties, the other
a good twenty years older,
unsteady on his polished shoes,
a son and his father, I knew
from their looks, the son with his
right hand on the handrail,
the father, left hand on the left,
and in the middle they were
holding hands, and when I neared,
they opened the simple gate
of their interwoven fingers
to let me pass, then reached out
for each other and continued on.

Canadian Art – Part I of II: Gaetane Dion

The paintings of Canadian artist Gaetane Dion (born 1957) have won numerous awards.






Musings in Winter: Tom Robbins

“In the haunted house of life, art is the only stair that doesn’t creak.”

From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Buffalo Springfield

3 March 1966 – The American-Canadian rock band Buffalo Springfield forms.

In the words of one writer, the group’s song “For What It’s Worth” “became a political anthem for the turbulent late 1960s.”

Musings in Winter: John Updike

“Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings.”

Canadian Art – Part II of II: William Kurelek

Born 3 March 1927 – William Kurelek, a Canadian artist and writer.

Below – “Huskies Howling to Be Free”; “Cold Dawn in Saskatchewan”; “Excitement of First Heavy Snow”; “Down in the Valley”; Untitled (Child with Feed in Winter); “How Often At Night”; “In the Autumn of Life.”







A Fifth Poem for Today

“Bones and Shadows”
By John Philip Johnson

She kept its bones in a glass case
next to the recliner in the living room,
and sometimes thought she heard
him mewing, like a faint background music;
but if she stopped to listen, it disappeared.
Likewise with a nuzzling around her calves,
she’d reach absent-mindedly to scratch him,
but her fingers found nothing but air.

One day, in the corner of her eye,
slinking by the sofa, there was a shadow.
She glanced over, expecting it to vanish.
But this time it remained.
She looked at it full on. She watched it move.
Low and angular, not quite as catlike
as one might suppose, but still, it was him.

She walked to the door, just like in the old days,
and opened it, and met a whoosh of winter air.
She waited. The bones in the glass case rattled.
Then the cat-shadow darted at her,
through her legs, and slipped outside.
It mingled with the shadows of bare branches,
and leapt at the shadow of a bird.
She looked at the tree, but there was no bird.
Then he blended into the shadow of a bush.
She stood in the threshold, her hands on the door,
the sharp breeze ruffling the faded flowers
of her house dress, and she could feel
her own bones rattling in her body,
her own shadow trying to slip out.

Musings in Winter: Helen Keller

“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”

American Art – Part III of IV: Don Ealy

In the words of one writer, “Don Ealy painted in the grand tradition of the old masters, although he would have laughed at the comparison. In his painting there are no tricks, shortcuts or any pandering to the current fashions. Landscape, still life and people flowed from his brush in color, light and shadow as they did from the brushes of Rembrandt and Rubens (again his laugh), but the perceptions are uniquely from his restless eye. With ‘lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne’ and more than forty years after committing himself to the life of a painter, every Ealy canvas shows the hand of a master craftsman and the clear, calm vision of a mature artist. As a child growing up in Spokane, Washington, Ealy sketched constantly and remarkably well. Herman Keys, noted artist and his mentor, would shake his head and sigh, ‘The boy draws like an angel.’ The head shaking and sighing were for other less productive practices of his pupil. Ealy studied and painted in Los Angeles and Mendocino, California. He spent time in New York before moving on to Europe, settling in Malaga, Spain for a formative period. Other travels in Brazil, Central America and the salt water fishing ports of Alaska, New England, Nova Scotia and the Pacific Coasts have had an influence on his work as did two years of sea duty abroad an aircraft carrier in the Pacific and Far East. Don Ealy was a signature member of the Oil Painters of America.”

Below – “My Dog Is Deaf”; “Up For Repairs”; “Water’s Edge”; “Purple Hills”; “Pretty In Pink.”





A Sixth Poem for Today

“Work Boots: Still Life”
By Jim Daniels

Next to the screen door
work boots dry in the sun.
Salt lines map the leather
and laces droop
like the arms of a new-hire
waiting to punch out.
The shoe hangs open like the sigh
of someone too tired to speak
a mouth that can almost breathe.
A tear in the leather reveals
a shiny steel toe
a glimpse of the promise of safety
the promise of steel and the years to come.

Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist John Fehringer

In the words of one writer, “Calm cool waters, vast rivers of ice, snow geese in flight and endless rows of mountains like frozen waves against a becoming sky, are all part of the Alaska landscape and the art of John Fehringer. With a command of light and a developed creative spirit, John reflects a world of compelling beauty that rivals one’s own imagination while spinning the true tales of splendor in Alaska. Take a journey with John as he draws the viewer in for an intimate rendezvous with grandeur, beauty and peace, through his art.”

Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.

Below – “Raven’s Moon Rising”; “Sandy Beach Memories”; “Whale Watch”: “Above and Below”; “Amazing Grace”; “Bus Buddies”; “Forest Haiku.”







Musings in Winter: Annie Dillard

“Spend the afternoon, you can’t take it with you.”

American Art – Part IV of IV: Allen Figone

In the words of one writer, “Allen Figone is a native of San Jose, California. He attended San Jose State University, obtaining his Bachelor of Arts in painting in 1973 under the direction of John DeVincenzi, Wendall Gates and Raymond Brose. Over the course of his career, Allen has won awards in shows throughout the San Francisco Bay area. His paintings have been featured in galleries throughout California, Oregon, Arizona, New Jersey and Montana. Admired by fine art connoisseurs, Allen’s work is proudly displayed in private collections throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Most recently Allen has achieved National level recognition as a finalist in ‘The Art of Seeing Nature’ Oakland Museum of Art, ‘Arts for the Parks 2005 and 2006’ (triple finalist), and ‘Oil Painters of America Western Regional Juried Exhibition 2006 through 2009.’
‘My painting philosophy is simple: to capture nature as I see her and to depict the colors and values I see as exactingly as possible. Art is about seeing, interpreting and painting the performance.’”

Below – “Coyote Lake Vista”; “Bodega Highway Ranch”; “Russian River and Sonoma Coast”; “Ahwahnee Meadow & Sentinel Rock at Sunset”; “Wildflowers & Fog.”





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