American Art – Part I of VI: Jane Maxwell
In the words of one writer, “Trim, fashion-forward silhouettes serve as central icons in this mixed-media collage, that deconstructs and illuminates the feminine ideal. Figures are stripped of fashion and makeup , and built from layers of found and vintage papers that have been sanded, scraped and resurfaced. Aged movie posters, produce crate labels, advertising signs and related materials, compose the colors, patterns and text that surround and become the figures.
While the women in this work are pared down forms, they remain thin, long-legged and sexy. There is a palpable ambivalence surrounding this work, that both denounces the cultural pressure to be perfect, while acknowledging a deep desire to achieve societal standards of beauty. This work offers a juxtaposition of women in conversation, comparison or repetition, underscoring the role that female camaraderie and competition play in the beauty quest and making a statement about our culture’s insistence on uniformity.”
From the “Experience Can Be a Harsh Teacher – Trust Me, I Know Department”:
“Before I was married, I had a hundred theories about raising children and no children. Now, I have three children and no theories.” – John Wilmot, English poet and courtier at the Restoration court of Charles II, who was born 1 April 1647.
“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”
Some quotes from the work of Agnes Repplier:
“People who cannot recognize a palpable absurdity are very much in the way of civilization.”
“It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.”
“Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding.”
“It is impossible for a lover of cats to banish these alert, gentle, and discriminating friends, who give us just enough of their regard and complaisance to make us hunger for more.”
“Humor distorts nothing, and only false gods are laughed off their earthly pedestals.”
“A kitten is chiefly remarkable for rushing about like mad at nothing whatever, and generally stopping before it gets there.”
“It has been well said that tea is suggestive of a thousand wants, from which spring the decencies and luxuries of civilization.”
“Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.”
“The thinkers of the world should by rights be guardians of the world’s mirth.”
“The tourist may complain of other tourists, but he would be lost without them.”
“Conversation between Adam and Eve must have been difficult at times because they had nobody to talk about.”
“It is as impossible to withhold education from the receptive mind, as it is impossible to force it upon the unreasoning.”
“It is in his pleasure that a man really lives; it is from his leisure that he constructs the true fabric of self.”
“It is not what we learn in conversation that enriches us. It is the elation that comes of swift contact with tingling currents of thought.”
“We cannot really love anyone with whom we never laugh.”
A Poem for Today
“At the Office Holiday Party”
By Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
I can now confirm that I am not just fatter
than everyone I work with, but I’m also fatter
than all their spouses. Even the heavily bearded
bear in accounting has a little otter-like boyfriend.
When my co-workers brightly introduce me
as “the funny one in the office,” their spouses
give them a look which translates to, Well, duh,
then they both wait for me to say something funny.
A gaggle of models comes shrieking into the bar
to further punctuate why I sometimes hate living
in this city. They glitter, a shiny gang of scissors.
I don’t know how to look like I’m not struggling.
Sometimes on the subway back to Queens,
I can tell who’s staying on past the Lexington stop
because I have bought their shoes before at Payless.
They are shoes that fool absolutely no one.
Everyone wore their special holiday party outfits.
It wasn’t until I arrived at the bar that I realized
my special holiday party outfit was exactly the same
as the outfits worn by the restaurant’s busboys.
Fancies in Springtime: Thomas Aquinas
Canadian Art – Part I of II: Oliver Ray
“When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.” – Abraham Maslow, American psychologist best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which is, in the words of one writer, “a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization,” who was born 1 April 1908.
Some quotes from the work of Abraham Maslow:
“If you deliberately set out to be less than you are capable, you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.”
“It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.”
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.”
“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.”
“Be independent of the good opinion of other people.”
“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.”
“It looks as if there were a single ultimate goal for mankind, a far goal toward which all persons strive. This is called variously by different authors self-actualization, self-realization, integration, psychological health, individuation, autonomy, creativity, productivity, but they all agree that this amounts to realizing the potentialities of the person, that is to say, becoming fully human, everything that person can be.”
“If the essential core of the person is denied or suppressed, he gets sick sometimes in obvious ways, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes immediately, sometimes later.”
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
“Self-actualized people…live more in the real world of nature than in the man-made mass of concepts, abstractions, expectations, beliefs and stereotypes that most people confuse with the world.”
“It seems that the necessary thing to do is not to fear mistakes, to plunge in, to do the best that one can, hoping to learn enough from blunders to correct them eventually.”
“One’s only rival is one’s own potentialities. One’s only failure is failing to live up to one’s own possibilities. In this sense, every man can be a king, and must therefore be treated like a king.”
“The key question isn’t ‘What fosters creativity?’ But why in God’s name isn’t everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might not be why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate?
We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle that anybody created anything.”
“The most stable, and therefore, the most healthy self-esteem is based on deserved respect from others rather than on external fame or celebrity and unwarranted adulation.”
“The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard…travel may be a flight from confronting the scared–this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”
“False optimism sooner or later means disillusionment, anger and hopelessness.”
Fancies in Springtime: Guy Debord
“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”
Canadian Art – Part II of II: Bobbie Burgers
In the words of one writer, “Bobbie Burgers was born in 1973 in Vancouver, B.C. She received a B.A. in Art History in 1996 from the University of Victoria. She has studied in Aix-en-Provence, France and returns often to recapture the life, light and spirit of Provence that she embrues into her painting.”
Fancies in Springtime: Noah Levine
A Second Poem for Today
“Girl Riding a Horse in a Field of Sunflowers”
By David Allan Evans
Sitting perfectly upright,
contented and pensive,
she holds in one hand,
loosely, the reins of summer:
the green of trees and bushes;
the blue of lake water;
the red of her jacket
and open collar; the brown
of her pinned-up hair,
and her horse, deep
in the yellow of sunflowers.
When she stops to rest,
When she decides to leave,
there goes summer
over the hill.
Below – Patty Stern: “Sunflower Heaven”
Fancies in Springtime: Ping Fu
“Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.”
American Art – Part II of VI: Bill White
Artist Statement: “I am a portrait painter and figurative artist living in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. I paint my friends and acquaintances and include them in scenes of contemporary Mexico. I attempt to paint the beauty and emotion of the people I meet. Every picture really does have a story.”
Fancies in Springtime: Ann Druyan
From the Music Archives Part I of II: Sergei Rachmaninoff
Born 1 April 1873 – Sergei Rachmaninoff, one of the finest pianists of his day and a composer widely regarded as one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Igor Kozlovsky and Marina Sharapova: “Working as a husband-and-wife team, the Russian-born duo collaborates on each canvas, Marina contributing her impressive skills as a figurative artist in the Old Master tradition, Igor lending his refined sense of color, shape, texture and affinity for abstract images. As a result, the paintings are influenced by, and recall, a diverse spectrum of artists and eras: famous avant-garde figures like Chagall, Malevich, and Kandinsky as well as fifteenth-century Russian religious painters. Partly, this array of forbearers reflects the artists’ educations: trained in rigorous Russian academies to appreciate both ancient and modern techniques, they learned to combine past and present with fluidity.
In each of their canvases we sense a narrative implied, but we always fall short of piecing it together – it’s like waking up from a dream. And just as dreams synthesize all manner of seemingly disparate material into cohesive experiences, so Igor and Marina blend the modern and traditional, the representational and the abstract – and indeed their own divergent personalities – into each finished painting.”
“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.” – Milan Kundera, Czech writer who has lived in France since 1975 (and who insists that his work be studied as French literature and classified as such in book stores) and author of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” who was born 1 April 1929.
Some quotes from the work of Milan Kundera:
“Two people in love, alone, isolated from the world, that’s beautiful.”
“You can’t measure the mutual affection of two human beings by the number of words they exchange.”
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”
“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”
“He suddenly recalled from Plato’s Symposium: People were hermaphrodites until God split then in two, and now all the halves wander the world over seeking one another. Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost.”
“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
“We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.”
“People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.”
“A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.”
“There is no perfection, only life.”
“The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful … Love begins with a metaphor. Which is to say, love begins at the point when a woman enters her first word into our poetic memory.”
“Loves are like empires: when the idea they are founded on crumbles, they, too, fade away.”
“And therein lies the whole of man’s plight. Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.”
“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Spanish painter Josep Cisquella: “Josep Cisquella’s work is concerned with the illusory properties of painting. It is a subject steeped in tradition, with antecedents extending from ancient Hellenic art to seventeenth-century trompe l’oeil to the more recent photorealistic work of Richard Estes and his contemporaries. Cisquella, however, approaches this estimable territory from a perspective that is altogether new. Building on the foundations erected by great artists before him, he finds fresh ways to marvel at a painting’s capacity to create realities.
Cisquella uses the two dimensional shadow to either echo or imply the existence of a real, three dimensional form. These are canvases that speak to the beauty of details; preserving moments that, in real life, are all too ephemeral. For that reason, and for the care he takes in rendering these quiet scenes, Josep Cisquella’s work amounts to a whole–hearted celebration of painting itself.”
Fancies in Springtime: Eckhart Tolle
“Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now.
Let it teach you Being.
Let it teach you integrity — which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real.
Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem.”
American Art – Part III of VI: Barbara Rogers
Here is one writer describing the accomplishments Barbara Rogers: “Rogers has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including one person exhibitions at major galleries and museums in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Scottsdale, Germany, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. Her work is in major public and private collections including The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, The Oakland Museum of Art, and The San Jose Museum of Art.”
From the Dance Archives: Martha Graham
“No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time; it is just that others are behind the times.” – Martha Graham, influential American modern dancer and choreographer, who died 1 April 1991.
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Marvin Gaye
“I sing about life.” – Marvin Gaye, influential American singer and songwriter, who died 1 April 1984.
Fancies in Springtime: Roger A. Caras
American Art – Part IV of VI: Michael Lynn Adams
A Third Poem for Today
By Todd Davis
In this low place between mountains
fog settles with the dark of evening.
Every year it takes some of those
we love—a car full of teenagers
on the way home from a dance, or
a father on his way to the paper mill,
nightshift the only opening.
Each morning, up on the ridge,
the sun lifts this veil, sees what night
has accomplished. The water on our window-
screens disappears slowly, gradually,
like grief. The heat of the day carries water
from the river back up into the sky,
and where the fog is heaviest and stays
longest, you’ll see the lines it leaves
on trees, the flowers that grow
Fancies in Springtime: Hermann Hesse
“A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, the longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home.”
According to one writer, Vietnamese artist Pham Luan “was born in Hanoi in 1954 and graduated from Hanoi’s Teachers Training College. Although he paints a variety of subjects, Pham Luan always returns to the subject of Hanoi, with its scenic location on the banks of the Red River, its lakes and ponds, the clarity of light, verdant greenery, elegant French architecture, and the wealth of its own culture. Engaging Pham Luan’s paintings is like reading a poem. At times, he chooses to remember Hanoi in its past beauty, devoid of the urbanization that is inevitably enveloping the city.”
Fancies in Springtime: Willa Cather
“Most beautiful of all was the tarnished gold of the elms, with a little brown in it, a little bronze, a little blue, even– a blue like amethyst, which made them melt into the azure haze with a kind of happiness, a harmony of mood that filled the air with content.”
“Actors who have tried to play Churchill and MacArthur have failed abysmally because each of those men was a great actor playing himself.” – William Manchester, American author, biographer, historian, combat veteran of the Pacific theater during World War II, and author of “American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964,” “Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War,” and “The Last Lion: William Spencer Churchill” (3 volumes), who was born 1 April 1922.
“Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War” is an uncommonly well-written and poignant book.
Some quotes from the work of William Manchester:
“The sum of a million facts is not the truth.”
“(Douglas MacArthur) was a thundering paradox of a man, noble and ignoble, inspiring and outrageous, arrogant and shy, the best of me and the worst of men, the most protean, most ridiculous, and most sublime. No more baffling, exasperating soldier ever wore a uniform. Flamboyant, imperious, and apocalyptic, he carried the plumage of a flamingo, could not acknowledge errors, and tried to cover up his mistakes with sly, childish tricks. Yet he was also endowed with great personal charm, a will of iron, and a soaring intellect. Unquestionably he was the most gifted man-at arms- this nation has produced.”
“But there are no loners. No man lives in a void. His every act is conditioned by his time and his society.”
“It is the definition of an egoist that whatever occupies his attention is, for that reason, important.”
“There was, however, a difference between his (Churchill’s) mood and that of the rest of the cabinet. They felt desperate; he felt challenged.”
“There was nothing green left; artillery had denuded and scarred every inch of ground. Tiny flares glowed and disappeared. Shrapnel burst with bluish white puffs. Jets of flamethrowers flickered and here and there new explosions stirred up the rubble.
While I watched, an American observation plane droned over the Japanese lines, spotting targets for the U.S. warships lying offshore. Suddenly the little plane was hit by flak and disintegrated. The carnage below continued without pause.
Here I was safe, but tomorrow I would be there. In that instant I realized that the worst thing that could happen to me was about to happen to me.”
“One strange feeling, which I remember clearly, was a powerful link with the slain, particularly those that had fallen within the past hour or two. There was so much death around that life seemed almost indecent. Some men’s uniforms were soaked with gobs of blood. The ground was sodden with it. I killed, too. ”
“In many ways Churchill remained a nineteenth-century man, and by no means a common man. He fit the mold of what Henry James called in ‘English Hours’ ‘persons for whom the private machinery of ease has been made to work with extraordinary smoothness.’”
“Today’s Europeans and Americans who reached the age of awareness after midcentury when the communications revolution lead to expectations of instantaneity are exasperated by the slow toils of history. They assume that the thunderclap of cause will be swiftly followed by the lightening bolt of effect.”
Fancies in Springtime: Charles Bukowski
“Animals never worry about Heaven or Hell. Neither do I. Maybe that’s why we get along”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Joyce Sutphen
It is mid-October. The trees are in
their autumnal glory (red, yellow-green,
orange) outside the classroom where students
take the mid-term, sniffling softly as if
identifying lines from Blake or Keats
was such sweet sorrow, summoned up in words
they never saw before. I am thinking
of my parents, of the six decades they’ve
been together, of the thirty thousand
meals they’ve eaten in the kitchen, of the
more than twenty thousand nights they’ve slept
under the same roof. I am wondering
Fancies in Springtime: Rainbow Rowell
“I want to be near the ocean, Lincoln, the ocean! I want to feel the tides. And I want mountains, too, at least one mountain. Is that too much to ask? And trees. Not a whole forest, necessarily. I’d settle for a thicket. Scenery. I want scenery!”
American Art – Part V of VI: Greg Miller
In the words of one writer, “About ten years ago, American painter Greg Miller admitted the truth — that he’s a Pop artist — and it felt good to own it. And he’s right; the soul of his large-scale, high-gloss, chromatically saturated work is popular culture. His is a visual language of gorgeous women, classic cars, found typography, surfboard silhouettes, blue waters, billboards, spaghetti westerns, comic books, and memes of childhood. His resin-coated surfaces are as hard and sheer as ice. Even the compositions without heroically beautiful women are quite sexy as a matter of optical appeal. So then why struggle with embracing the Pop Art moniker? Because despite the myriad visual cues, Miller’s art doesn’t really look like Pop. It’s not industrial. It does not obscure the hand of the artist in its rendering. His aesthetic is maximalist and flurried; his process is demonstrably labor-intensive; and his graphic style is flirtatiously loose, even raw. So while it could not be other than Pop Art, Miller addresses Pop, not like a thinker, but like a painter.”
Fancies in Springtime: Arakida Moritake
A Fifth Poem for Today
“A Ghost Abandons the Haunted”
By Katie Cappello
You ignore the way light filters through my cells,
the way I have of fading out—still
there is a constant tug, a stretching,
what is left of me is coming loose. Soon,
I will be only crumbs of popcorn,
a blue ring in the tub, an empty
toilet paper roll, black mold
misted on old sponges,
strands of hair woven into
carpet, a warped door
that won’t open, the soft spot
in an avocado, celery, a pear,
Fancies in Springtime: Sara Teasdale
“This is the spot where I will lie
When life has had enough of me,
These are the grasses that will blow
Above me like a living sea.
These gay old lilies will not shrink
To draw their life from death of mine,
And I will give my body’s fire
To make blue flowers on this vine.
‘O Soul,’ I said, ‘have you no tears?
Was not the body dear to you?’
I heard my soul say carelessly,
‘The myrtle flowers will grow more blue.’”
Back from the Territory – Art: The work of Alaska artist Gail Niebrugge
In the words of one writer, “Gail Niebrugge (Knee-brew-ghe) born and raised in California has pursued art since childhood, winning a poster contest on the Johnny Jet television show at the age of twelve. The Niebrugge family fell in love with Alaska while on vacation in 1976 and never returned home, instead they established a residence in the remote interior settlement of Copper Center. Since 1995 Palmer has been home to the Niebrugges.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we’re just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Developing the Land”
By Stephen Behrendt
For six nights now the cries have sounded in the pasture:
coyote voices fluting across the greening rise to the east
where the deer have almost ceased to pass
now that the developers have carved up yet another section,
filled another space with spars and studs, concrete, runoff.
Five years ago you saw two spotted fawns rise
for the first time from brome where brick mailboxes will stand;
only three years past came great horned owls
who raised two squeaking, downy owlets
that perished in the traffic, skimming too low across the road
behind some swift, more fortunate cottontail.
It was on an August afternoon that you drove in,
curling down our long gravel drive past pasture and creek,
that you saw, flickering at the edge of your sight,
three mounted Indians, motionless in the paused breeze,
who vanished when you turned your head.
We have felt the presence on this land of others,
of some who paused here, some who passed, who have left
in the thick clay shards and splinters of themselves that we dig up,
turn up with spade and tine when we garden or bury our animals;
their voices whisper on moonless nights in the back pasture hollow
where the horses snort and nicker, wary with alarm.
Fancies in Springtime: Alice Walker
American Art – Part VI of VI: Giles Marrey
In the words of one writer, “Indeed, sometimes understated, sometimes confrontational, his color schemes are what set his work apart. Marrey says that when he changes his subject or style, he changes the color. The foremost pleasure in painting comes from color for him. It is not an intellectual but a sensual pleasure, like a rush.”