American Art – Part I of IV: Susan Middleton
Artist Statement: “I consider myself a portrait photographer. My subjects are plants and animals, and I hope to evoke an emotional response.”
A Poem for Today
“The Art of Being”
By Anne Coray
The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low. Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log
covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.
French Art – Part I of II: Raoul Dufy
“My eyes were made to erase all that is ugly.” – Raoul Dufy, French Fauvist painter, draftsman, printmaker, book illustrator, and scenic designer, who died 23 March 1953.
Fancies in Springtime: Sam Harris
“Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name.”
Born 23 March 1915 – Vasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev, a Russian sniper and a Hero of the Soviet Union during World War II. In the words of one historian, “(Zaytsev was) notable particularly for his activities between 10 November and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad; during this five-week period he killed 225 soldiers and officers of the Wehrmacht and other Axis armies, including 11 enemy snipers.”
French Art – Part II of II: Rebecca de Cachard
Here is one critic briefly describing the artistry of French painter Rebecca de Cachard (born 1969): “When she paints, Rebecca invites us into her dream, where we can maybe find a part of our childhood. It restores us, the blue sky, the ocean, an island that lies ahead over the horizon…”
A Second Poem for Today
By Claudia Emerson
It was fifty cents a game
beneath exhausted ceiling fans,
the smoke’s old spiral. Hooded lights
burned distant, dull. I was tired, but you
insisted on one more, so I chalked
the cue—the bored blue—broke, scratched.
It was always possible
for you to run the table, leave me
nothing. But I recall the easy
shot you missed, and then the way
we both studied, circling—keeping
what you had left me between us.
Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson
From the American History Archives: Patrick Henry
Spanish Art – Part I of III: Juan Gris
“I prefer the emotion that corrects the rule.” – Juan Gris, Spanish cubist painter and sculptor, who was born 23 March 1887.
A Third Poem for Today
“The New Dentist”
By Jaimee Kuperman
Driving to the new dentist’s office
the slow drive of a new place
with the McDonalds that I don’t go to
on the left, the mall two miles away.
The Courthouse and the Old Courthouse
road signs that break apart, the fork in the road
that looks nothing like a fork or a spoon, in fact
at best, maybe a knife bent in a dishwasher
that leans to one side. And I know the dentist
will ask about my last visit and want to know
in months that I can’t say some time ago
and I know he will ask me about flossing
and saying when I’m in the mood won’t be
the appropriate answer.
He will call out my cavities
as if they were names in a class.
I brush my teeth before going in.
It’s like cleaning before the cleaning person
but I don’t want him to know I keep an untidy
mouth. That I am the type of person who shoves
things in the closet before guests arrive.
Fancies in Springtime: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Spanish Art – Part II of III: Juan Hernandez
Here is the Artist Statement of Juan Hernandez: “I am a Spanish artist specializing in pop art painting on wood. This time I leave the canvas and choose the wood that with its streaks emulate, without much difficulty, the characters of peoples’ skin texture which interests me. I take back with the crayons the passion I lived with them during my childhood, sharing its simple role with the intensity the acrylic gives them, without forgetting other options such as work in pastels, the charcoal or the collage.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Mr. D Shops At Fausto’s Food Palace”
By Candace Black
For years he lived close enough to smell
chicken and bananas rotting
in the trash bins, to surprise a cashier on break
smoking something suspicious when he walked
out the back gate. Did they have an account?
He can’t remember. Probably so, for all the milk
a large family went through, the last-minute
ingredients delivered by a smirking bag boy.
He liked to go himself, the parking lot’s
radiant heat erased once he got past the sweating
glass door, to troll the icy aisles in his slippers.
This was before high-end labels took over
Fancies in Springtime: Toni Sorenson
American Art – Part II of IV: Sylvia Plimack Mangold
Artist Statement: “My work doesn’t look radical, but I am looking for something new, something to satisfy my curiosity.”
From the Movie Archives: Kurosawa Akira
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.” – Kurosawa Akira, Japanese film director, screenwriter, producer, and editor, who was born 23 March 1910.
Kurosawa Akira produced many great and influential films, including “Rashomon,” “Ikiru,” “Seven Samurai” (a candidate for the greatest movie ever made), “Throne of Blood” (Kurosawa’s retelling of “Macbeth”), “Hidden Fortress” (an acknowledged source for George Lucas’s “Star Wars”), “Yojimbo” (remade in the West as “A Fistful of Dollars” [starring Clint Eastwood],“Last Man Standing” [starring Bruce Willis], and “Miller’s Crossing” [starring Gabriel Byrne, directed by the Coen brothers]), “Ran” (Kurosawa’s retelling of “King Lear”), and “Dreams.”
Fancies in Springtime: Rollo May
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Bill Trowbridge
It chafed like some new skin we’d grown,
or feathers, the cummerbund and starched collar
pinching us to show how real this transformation
into princes was, how powerful we’d grown
by getting drivers’ licenses, how tall and total
our new perspective, above that rusty keyhole
parents squinted through. We’d found the key:
that nothing really counts except a romance
bright as Technicolor, wide as Cinerama,
and this could be the night. No lie.
Spanish Art – Part III of III: Enrique Donoso
Fancies in Springtime: Patricia Cornwell
“Farewel the ocean main, we must die,
Farewel the ocean main, we must die,
Farewel the ocean main:
The coast of France or Spain
We ne’er shall see again; we must die.” – From “Captain Kidd’s Farewel to the Seas, or, the Famous Pirate’s Lament, 1701,” dedicated to the memory of Scottish sailor Captain William Kidd, legendary pirate, who was born 22 January 1645.
Captain Kidd was tried and executed for piracy after returning from a voyage to the Indian Ocean. In the words of one writer, “Some modern historians deem his piratical reputation unjust, as there is evidence that Kidd acted only as a privateer. Kidd’s fame springs largely from the sensational circumstances of his questioning before the English Parliament and the ensuing trial. His actual depredations on the high seas, whether piratical or not, were both less destructive and less lucrative than those of many other contemporary pirates and privateers.”
Captain Kidd might have escaped the noose if he had offered the same rationale for his piracy as the one offered by some contemporary music and video pirates on the Internet: “I’m not stealing; I’m sharing.” On the other hand, maybe we should start hanging a few of these modern e-privateers.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Carol L. Gloor
At the moment of my mother’s death
I am rinsing frozen chicken.
No vision, no rending
of the temple curtain, only
the soft give of meat.
I had not seen her in four days.
I thought her better,
and the hospital did not call,
so I am fresh from
an office Christmas party,
scotch on my breath
as I answer the phone.
And in one moment all my past acts
“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” – Roger Bannister, English runner, who was born 23 March 1929, on his reaction on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road Track in Oxford, after he became the first man to run the mile in under four minutes (3 minutes, 59.4 seconds).
In the words of one historian, “Bannister went on to become a distinguished neurologist and Master of Pembroke College, Oxford, before retiring in 1993. When asked whether the 4-minute mile was his proudest achievement, he said he felt prouder of his contribution to academic medicine through research into the responses of the nervous system.”
Fancies in Springtime: Dan Millman
American Art – Part III of IV: Robert Moskowitz
Artist Statement: “In anything I do, I don’t want the viewer involved with how it was done. The curiosity about how it was made can come later. I just want the work to be another thing in the room which is discovered slowly.”
Fancies in Springtime: Keshni Kashyap
A Seventh Poem for Today
“I Was Never Able To Pray”
By Edward Hirsch
Wheel me down to the shore
where the lighthouse was abandoned
and the moon tolls in the rafters.
Let me hear the wind paging through the trees
and see the stars flaring out, one by one,
like the forgotten faces of the dead.
I was never able to pray,
but let me inscribe my name
in the book of waves
Fancies in Springtime: Sanhita Baruah
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Sometimes, When the Light”
By Lisel Mueller
Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood
and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows
or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs standing hip to hip,
you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows
something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous
Fancies in Springtime: Anthony Doerr
“Without habit, the beauty of the world would overwhelm us. We’d pass out every time we saw— actually saw— a flower. Imagine if we only got to see a cumulonimbus cloud or Cassiopeia or a snowfall once a century: there’d be pandemonium in the streets. People would lie by the thousands in the fields on their backs.”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of artist Irene Klar
In the words of one writer, “Irene Klar graduated from McGill University with degrees in Science and Physical Therapy and a Fine Arts degree from the University of Alberta. Irene was a watercolour instructor at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension for many years. She has executed a number of commissioned pieces for the Trans-Canada Trail, Unitarian Services Committee and Amnesty International (United States, Canada, and Spain). She has directed her designs for many nonprofit fundraising activities.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: David Almond
“She told us about the goddess called Persephone, who was forced to spend half a year in the darkness deep underground. Winter happened when she was trapped inside the earth. The days shrank, they became cold and short and dark. Living things hid themselves away. Spring came when she was released and made her slow way up to the world again. The world became brighter and bolder in order to welcome her back. It began to be filled with warmth and light. The animals dared to wake, they dared to have their young. Plants dared to send out buds and shoots. Life dared to come back.”
A Ninth Poem for Today
By Robinson Jeffers
I had walked since dawn and lay down to rest on a bare hillside
Above the ocean. I saw through half-shut eyelids a vulture wheeling
high up in heaven,
And presently it passed again, but lower and nearer, its orbit
I understood then
That I was under inspection. I lay death-still and heard the flight-
Whistle above me and make their circle and come nearer.
I could see the naked red head between the great wings
Bear downward staring. I said, “My dear bird, we are wasting time
These old bones will still work; they are not for you.” But how
he looked, gliding down
On those great sails; how beautiful he looked, veering away in the
over the precipice. I tell you solemnly
That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak
become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes–
What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life
Fancies in Springtime: Edward Abbey
“The weather here is windy, balmy, sometimes wet. Desert springtime, with flowers popping up all over the place, trees leafing out, streams gushing down from the mountains. Great time of year for hiking, camping, exploring, sleeping under the new moon and the old stars.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Tom Marioni
Artist Statement: “The artist’s role in society is to observe real life and report on it poetically. If the movement of his materials is sure and honest, the work becomes a beautiful gesture.”