American Art – Part I of VII: Laurie Kersey
In the words of one writer, “Sometimes defiance pays off. In high school, Laurie Kersey, a rebellious teenager with irresistible pluck and a flair for painting, was faced with a painful ultimatum: complete an assignment of 30 poems for a writing class required for graduation, or fail high school. Kersey’s visually oriented mind and “optional” interpretation on authority refused to submit to the literary torture. Staring the consequence dead in the eye, she didn’t turn in her assignment. As the end of the semester approached, her teacher met with her to discuss the situation. What the dreaded Iliad-waving wordmonger said surprised her. She told her that while some people prefer verbal expression, which must be formulated within the constraints of language, visually oriented people express themselves more naturally within the open framework provided by art. She knew Kersey was into painting, so she struck a deal with her: six paintings for 30 poems. Kersey got an A.
Laurie Kersey’s daring approach seems to have worked for her ever since. When the successful plein-air artist reached moments when most people would have bitten bullets and bowed to bland precedents, she rebelled against blind expectations, armed only with the certainty that she would not be pushed in the wrong direction. After 15 years in the graphic arts field in North Carolina she dropped everything to move out West to become a fine artist. Kersey talked about her significant and risky career change, explaining, ‘I had started doing some oil painting on the side, and I found that I was much more interested in my painting in my studio than in the project on my desk. So I sold almost everything I owned and put the rest in a pickup truck and moved to California. I took painting classes at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco and waitressed on the side to pay the bills.’ Though Kersey affirmed that she had some reservations about trading a steady paycheck for a starving artist’s adventure, she avowed with conviction, “It wasn’t going to stop me.” Kersey’s rebellious streak has, fortunately for her collectors, led her to risk a gander off the beaten path of high school assignments and job security to venture into a different world, where creativity reigns and spunk is rewarded.”
Musings in Winter: Joseph Campbell
In the words of one writer, “Born in 1954, Masahiro Arai received a Bachelor of Law degree from Toyo University in Tokyo in 1977 and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Orleans in 1992. Arai uses lithography to subtly interpret his immediate surroundings, transforming domestic interiors, still lifes and architectural details into magical settings flooded with sunlight.”
“I, my own damn self, am not a Tea Party supporter. I disagree with them on social liberties, our overseas wars, Obama’s birthplace, Sarah Palin, and the conspicuous absence of tea at their rallies.” – Penn Jillette, American illusionist, comedian, musician, inventor, actor, atheist, libertarian, writer, and author of “God No!,” who was born 5 March 1955.
Some quotes from the work of Penn Jillette:
“I don’t think anything gives your life joy and meaning. I think your life simply has joy and meaning. The love for my children, the love for my parents and the love for my friends is the end in itself. The meaning is life.”
“Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”
“If there’s something you really want to believe, that’s what you should question the most.”
“You don’t have to be brave or a saint, a martyr, or even very smart to be an atheist. All you have to be able to say is ‘I don’t know.’”
“Luck is statistics taken personally.”
“The only difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama is killing more people. He’s about double the numbers now. Can you imagine if McCain had won and did precisely what Obama has done, with every speech and every political maneuver overseas? There’d be riots in the streets about the people we’re killing. And yet because it’s Obama, and he’s better looking and better at reading the teleprompter, we let him get away with it.”
“Every time something really bad happens, people cry out for safety, and the government answers by taking rights away from good people. We have no proof that the bad, stupid crazy people who have planted bombs in the past few years used the phone much for their stupid bad crimes, let alone logged on the Internet. Yet when those kind of bad things happen nowadays, the government tries to do bad things to phones and the Net. The phones and the Internet are just good smart things, and the government should leave them alone. You have to watch the government all the time on everything. Thomas Jefferson didn’t say that, but he said something very close to that.”
“It’s fair to say that the Bible contains equal amounts of fact, history, and pizza.”
“My favorite thing about the Internet is that you get to go into the private world of real creeps without having to smell them.”
“If every trace of any single religion were wiped out and nothing were passed on, it would never be created exactly that way again. There might be some other nonsense in its place, but not that exact nonsense. If all of science were wiped out, it would still be true and someone would find a way to figure it all out again.”
“Proselytizing is a moral imperative and feeds the marketplace of ideas. I want to hear everyone tell the truth as they see it. I want to learn from everyone.”
“Read everything and be kind.”
Musings in Winter: Brian Andreas
American Art – Part II of VII: Eric Joyner
In the words of one writer, “Eric is a local San Francisco artist with a groovy penchant for donuts and robots flavored with a dash of Magritte symbolism. He grew up in the Bay Area and pursued his schooling here as well.”
A Poem for Today
“March is the Month of Expectation”
By Emily Dickinson
March is the Month of Expectation.
The things we do not know —
The Persons of prognostication
Are coming now —
We try to show becoming firmness —
But pompous Joy
Betrays us, as his first Betrothal
Betrays a Boy.
Spanish Art – Part I of II: Alberto Mielgo
Musings in Winter: Soren Kierkegaard
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
A Second Poem for Today
“Not Ideas About The Thing But The Thing Itself”
By Wallace Stevens
At the earliest ending of winter,
In March, a scrawny cry from outside
Seemed like a sound in his mind.
He knew that he heard it,
A bird’s cry, at daylight or before,
In the early March wind.
The sun was rising at six,
No longer a battered panache above snow…
It would have been outside.
It was not from the vast ventriloquism
Of sleep’s faded papier-mache…
The sun was coming from the outside.
That scrawny cry–It was
A chorister whose c preceded the choir.
It was part of the colossal sun,
Spanish Art – Part II of II: Daniel Coves
Musings in Winter: Jodi Picoult
“Do you know how there are moments when the world moves so slowly you can feel your bones shifting, your mind tumbling? When you think that no matter what happens to you for the rest of your life, you will remember every last detail of that one minute forever?”
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Sergei Prokofiev
Died 5 March 1953 – Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.
American Art – Part III of VII: Dana Tiger
Artist Statement: “By drawing on the strength of the women of my Creek Indian ancestry, I am better able to portray the dignity and determination of contemporary women.”
Below – “Cherokee Basket”; “From the Four Directions”; “From You I Learn Many Things”; “Quest for Peace”; “Gathering Strength”; “Thinking It All Over”; “Ritual Traditions of the Human Woman”; “In Balance.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Austin Smith
The factory stands on the train
of your town’s wedding gown,
dirtying it and smoking
unfiltered cigarettes. Embarrassed,
the clouds rush to cover up
the track marks of the stars.
On your way home from the factory
-run theater, it’s too dark to say
hello to the pale-faced people
plummeting past you and your son.
Who knows what bright things
they conceal in their black coats
now that they’ve rationed the rations.
Home before curfew, the iodine
tablets fume in the bedtime
glass of water your son requests.
He sips it as if it were hot tea
while you read to him yet again
that ancient story you three
loved. You stumble over the new
language, but even it is becoming
beautiful. You close the book,
kiss his forehead, stand the flashlight
upright by the fuming glass
and stumble to your bed in the dark.
Your son will wake in the night
and turn on the flashlight
so he can see the water
that he will turn into urine
that you will carry in an armful
of sheets down to the river,
that gray, dappled,
broken thing running
through the dying trees
like an app
-aloosa spooked by gunfire.
Musings in Winter: Carl Sandburg
A Fourth Poem for Today
“One Light to Another”
By Jonathan Greene
lights the whereabouts
of the flashlight.
takes us to matches
and candles, the oil lamp.
In the words of one writer, “Montenegrin painter Boris Dragojevic (born 1956) graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Belgrade in 1983 and earned a Masters Degree from the Department of Painting in 1986.”
Musings in Winter: Ashley Smith
“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Leo Dangel
In the early afternoon my mother
was doing the dishes. I climbed
onto the kitchen table, I suppose
to play, and fell asleep there.
I was drowsy and awake, though,
as she lifted me up, carried me
on her arms into the living room,
and placed me on the davenport,
but I pretended to be asleep
the whole time, enjoying the luxury—
I was too big for such a privilege
and just old enough to form
my only memory of her carrying me.
She’s still moving me to a softer place.
Here is the Artist Statement of Yemini painter Mazher Nizar (born 1958): “Divided between two cultures, it has been two decades ago since I came from India back to Yemen. Yemen has always inspired me since 1985 especially the old city of Sanaa where I have been painting views and veiled women. The rich history and culture of Yemen allowed me to work with Queens and women of this beautiful country.
These are my recent works on canvas, mostly untitled, but women remain the major subject in my abstract compositions, sometimes combined with fragments from the old city of Sanaa.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Patsy Cline
“Trouble ‘n’ honey.” – Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley), American country music singer, who died 5 March 1963, on what someone who’d never seen her would think she looked like.
American Art – Part IV of VII: Richard Diebenkorn
Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was an abstract expressionist painter.
Below – “Cityscape 1”; “Ocean Park No. 67”; “Ocean Park No. 129”; “Seated Nude. Hands Behind Head”; “Bottles”; “Girl in White Blouse”;
“Seated Woman”; “Invented Landscape.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“The Ring Toss Lady Breaks a Five”
By Mark Kraushaar
It’s all of it rigged, she says,
Bust-one-wins, Hi-striker, even the Dozer.
It’s like you think you’ll score that giant panda
for the wife except you can’t, or not
without you drop another twenty
and then—what?—then you win
a thumb-sized monkey or a little comb.
She hands me five ones and then stands.
She’s worked the whole of the midway,
she says, funnel cake to corn-dogs.
She’s worked every game
plus half the rides, Krazy Koaster,
Avalanche, Wing-Ding, Tilt-a-Whirl
and if there’s somebody sick she’ll do
a kiddy ride too, Li’l Choo-choo, maybe
the Tea Cup.
There’s a collapsing soft sigh
and she sits, opens the paper, turns a page
and as if she were the one assigned to face forwards,
as if it were her job to intuit the world
and interpret the news,
Anymore, she says, it’s out of our hands,
it’s all we can do—it’s not up to you.
You see that bald bronco tearing
tickets at the carousel?
We worked the Bottle-drop
and now he’s mine: he’s no genius
but he loves me and he’s mine.
Things happen, she says, you
can’t take them back.
Here is the Artist Statement of Peruvian painter Fidel Ponce Ccana: “During my childhood I have grown up with the Andean culture, trough the education that my parents have given me, and the western culture that was received through the educational system and the media of communication. Since then I have dreamed to express and to show through my work this half-cast that it typical of my country. Through my work of medium and large sizes, the human figure is the principal element to express existentialism situations: empty bodies surrounded by pre-Hispanic symbolism, geometric and linear like architectonics structures solid and spatial. Small formats are also inspired by nature mort and with the same style.
All the elements in conformity of my work are expressed with colours inspired by day living of our days to day living of our days: like neon lights, discotheques, internet, television, etc…And the entire modern means that are offered are expressed with subtlety and abounded materiel. The aim to find a language in which to translate a plastic encounter between the ancient and the modern, the tradition and the modernity of our days.
The research of a personal and sincere language in the painting that leads us to observe our surrounding and understand our roots and in own existence. The historic tradition, the western culture and all cultural manifestations that converge in Latin America give us a language engaged with our history and society.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
“To The House”
By Robinson Jeffers
I am heaping the bones of the old mother
To build us a hold against the host of the air;
Granite the blood-heat of her youth
Held molten in hot darkness against the heart
Hardened to temper under the feet
Of the ocean cavalry that are maned with snow
And march from the remotest west.
This is the primitive rock, here in the wet
Quarry under the shadow of waves
Whose hollows mouthed the dawn; little house each stone
Baptized from that abysmal font
The sea and the secret earth gave bonds to affirm you.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Chinese painter Xue Mo: “Her portraits of Oriental women are more than representations of female beauty. Xue Mo’s premise is that the composition of these paintings act as a focal point for meditation on such concepts as virtue, beauty, serenity, benevolence, and tranquility.
Variously described as ‘Renaissance,’ ‘Chinese Vermeer,’ or ‘Medici- like portraiture,’ Xue Mo’s paintings evoke a timeless elegance and a return to pure painting. Critic Katherine Wilkinson has written, ‘In the 20th Century, many Asian artists have sited, in the human figure, the portrayal and exploration of their own and their society’s identity and history and its changing relationship with other nations and a global culture…Xue considers her work deeply affected by old Chinese culture, its traditional music, calligraphy and early portraiture.’”
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Finding the Lego”
By Maryann Corbett
You find it when you’re tearing up your life,
trying to make some sense of the old messes,
moving dressers, peering under beds.
Almost lost in cat hair and in cobwebs,
in dust you vaguely know was once your skin,
it shows up, isolated, fragmentary.
A tidy little solid. Tractable.
Knobbed to be fitted in a lock-step pattern
with others. Plastic: red or blue or yellow.
Out of the dark, undamaged, there it is,
as bright and primary colored and foursquare
as the family with two parents and two children
who moved in twenty years ago in a dream.
It makes no allowances, concedes no failures,
admits no knowledge of a little girl
who glared through tears, rubbing her slapped cheek.
Rigidity is its essential trait.
Likely as not, you leave it where it was.
American Art – Part V of VII: Joseph Alleman
In the words of one writer, “For artist Joseph Alleman, an important motive to paint lies in understanding his surroundings. ‘I’m visually compelled by various forms of shape, value, pattern, etc. Through the process of painting, I gain new and deeper insight into my subject and its surroundings as these elements combine and communicate.’
Working in both watercolor and oil, Joseph Alleman’s paintings have become highly recognized and collected for their visionary portrayals of the West. As a signature member of both the American and National Watercolor Societies, he exhibits regularly through gallery, juried, and invitational shows, and has been a featured artist in the majority of contemporary fine art publications.
Residing in Northern Utah, Joseph finds a great deal of inspiration in the regions land, towns, and people which make it unique. ‘There is a beauty within the everyday and ordinary that only painting can reveal. I’m drawn to these subjects in hopes of making and sharing such discoveries.’”
Musings in Winter: Henry J.M. Nouwen
“The eternal raison d’etre of America is in its being the ‘sweet land of liberty.’ Should a land so dreamed into existence, so degenerate through material prosperity as to become what its European critics, with too much justice, have scornfully renamed it the ‘Land of the Dollar’ – such a development will be one of the sorriest conclusions of history, and the most colossal disillusionment that has ever happened to mankind.” – Frank Norris, American novelist and author of “The Octopus: A Story of California” and “McTeague,” who was born 5 March 1870,
Some quotes from the work of Frank Norris:
“Always blame conditions, not men.”
“I never truckled. I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn’t like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the truth.”
“Wait till you see-at the same time that your family is dying for lack of bread-a hundred thousand acres of wheat-millions of bushels of food-grabbed and gobbled by the Railroad Trust, and then talk of moderation. That talk is just what the Trust wants to hear. It ain’t frightened of that. There’s one thing only it does listen to, one things it is frightened of-the people with dynamite in their hands, -six inches of plugged gaspipe. That talks.”
“The People have a right to the Truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“He strove for the diapason, the great song that should embrace in itself a whole epoch, a complete era, the voice of an entire people, wherein all people should be included—they and their legends, their folk lore, their fightings, their loves and their lusts, their blunt, grim humour, their stoicism under stress, their adventures, their treasures found in a day and gambled in a night, their direct, crude speech, their generosity and cruelty, their heroism and bestiality, their religion and profanity, their self-sacrifice and obscenity—a true and fearless setting forth of a passing phase of history, un-compromising, sincere; each group in its proper environment; the valley, the plain, and the mountain; the ranch, the range, and the mine—all this, all the traits and types of every community from the Dakotas to the Mexicos, from Winnipeg to Guadalupe, gathered together, swept together, welded and riven together in one single, mighty song, the Song of the West.”
Musings in Winter: Lin Yutang
American Art – Part VI of VII: Ron Grauer
In the words of one writer, “Ron Grauer’s life should have started with a pencil in his hand because drawing has always held an important spot in his heart. During 1928-29 his father took him to the airport often and he gleefully watched beautiful planes passing right in front of the windshield of their car. One in particular was a bright red biplane with spirals painted on the wheels which were still revolving as they passed by. The thrill of those early times inspired him to study all the airplane pictures he could lay his hands on. Sheer magic!
Such vivid memories struck a chord in his fertile imagination. After the family moved from St Joseph, Missouri, where he was born in 1927, to Topeka, Kansas, Ron began drawing: airplanes and birds…on all the walls in his bedroom and on the inside cover of every book in the house! Airplanes and drawing were certainly his first loves.”
Musings in Winter: Rachel Carson
A Ninth Poem for Today
By Shari Wagner
It begins in a cow lane
with bees and white clover,
courses along corn, rushes
accelerando against rocks.
It rises to a teetering pitch
as I cross a shaky tree-bridge,
syncopates a riff
over the dissonance
of trash—derelict icebox
with a missing door,
mohair loveseat sinking
into thistle. It winds through green
adder’s mouth, faint as the bells
of Holsteins heading home.
Blue shadows lengthen,
but the undertow
of a harmony pulls me on
through raspy Joe-pye-weed
and staccato-barbed fence.
It hums in a culvert
beneath cars, then empties
into a river that flows oboe-deep
past Indian dance ground, waterwheel
and town, past the bleached
stones in the churchyard,
the darkening hill.
Musings in Winter: Ai Yazawa
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Jon Van Zyle
In the words of one writer, “Jon Van Zyle is widely recognized as one of thepremier artists in Alaska, and he has built a national reputation. His graceful and realistic portrayals of dog teams and landscapes are unmatched. Art is his life and Alaska, all of Alaska, has been his inspiration. Artist Jon Van Zyle has seen more of Alaska in a much more unique way than most can ever hope to experience.
Jon has twice completed the 1049 miles of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race between Anchorage and Nome. From these adventures he has created the yearly Iditarod poster series commemorating the race and his involvement. In 1979 he was made official Iditarod artist, a title he still holds today. In 2004, Jon was inducted into the Iditarod Hall of Fame.
His acrylic paintings go beyond the race though, and encompass so much of Alaska’s beauty. Jon’s reputation as a storyteller through his art is further enhanced by his art prints, posters and stone lithographs. Dog teams, landscapes, wildlife, Alaskan faces from native to newcomer, portray an intimacy with the land and its people. He touches on history with studies of Alaskan pioneers and native traditions and lore recording the Alaskan spirit. Public acceptance of his shared feeling through his art has been his greatest reward.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Musings in Winter: Pearl S. Buck
American Art – Part VII of VII: Suzanne D’Arcy
Artist Statement: “I knew early on in my life that painting and drawing were integral to my self. As a very little kid, the illustrations of Arthur Szyk in Grimm’s Fairytales, struck me for their drama and clarity; I knew that the world of representational art would be my focus. There is such beauty in the ordinary city street, open field, sea edge, a person’s face that I have never been without motivation or subject matter for painting. Diversity of subject matter reflects the wonderful complexity of our visual world. With plein air painting I am, like my fellow painters, often painting nature’s scenery that will soon disappear under the wheels of land development. I feel I am painting one page in the long story of our changing land.
To be an artist and engage the imagination through creative process and build the technical knowledge is a wonderful path in life. I’m on this road and I love it.”