American Art – Part I of V: Alfred Henry Maurer
Born 21 April 1868 – Alfred Henry Maurer, an American modernist painter.
A Poem for Today
“Ode to Marbles”
By Max Mendelsohn
I love the sound of marbles
scattered on the worn wooden floor,
like children running away in a game of hide-and-seek.
I love the sight of white marbles,
green marbles, black,
new marbles, old marbles,
with glass-ribboned swirls,
dancing round and round.
I love the feel of marbles,
rolling freely in my palm,
like smooth-sided stars
that light up the worn world.
“I never married because there was no need. I have three pets at home which answer the same purpose as a husband. I have a dog which growls every morning, a parrot which swears all afternoon, and a cat that comes home late at night.” – Marie Corelli, British novelist, who died 21 April 1924.
A few quotes from the work of Marie Corelli:
“No one is contented in this world, I believe. There is always something left to desire, and the last thing longed for always seems the most necessary to happiness.”
“Any era that is dominated by the love of money only, has a rotten core within it and must perish.”
“What a fool cannot learn he laughs at, thinking that by his laughter he shows superiority instead of latent idiocy.”
Fancies in Springtime: L. Ashley Straker
“The Gobi wasn’t completely devoid of life; its ecosystem was unexpectedly extensive and varied given the extremes to which it subjected its denizens, but some of those forms of life weren’t the kind that Anna wanted to admire too closely.”
“For beauty being the best of all we know
Sums up the unsearchable and secret aims
Of nature.” – Robert Bridges, British poet and Poet Laureate (1913-1930), who died 21 April 1930.
BEAUTIFUL must be the mountains whence ye come,
And bright in the fruitful valleys the streams wherefrom
Ye learn your song:
Where are those starry woods? O might I wander there,
Among the flowers, which in that heavenly air
Bloom the year long!
Nay, barren are those mountains and spent the streams:
Our song is the voice of desire, that haunts our dreams,
A throe of the heart,
Whose pining visions dim, forbidden hopes profound,
No dying cadence, nor long sigh can sound,
For all our art.
Alone, aloud in the raptured ear of men
We pour our dark nocturnal secret; and then,
As night is withdrawn
From these sweet-springing meads and bursting boughs of May,
Dream, while the innumerable choir of day
Welcome the dawn.
Below – Rusty Hardin: “Nightingale”
In the words of one critic, British painter Helen Masacz (born 1968) “concerns herself with the issues of transition; from childhood to adulthood, from the changes in relationships over a lifetime and to the meaning that the passage of time imprints on all our lives.”
Some quotes from the work of Rollo May:
“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.”
“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.”
“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”
“Creativity is not merely the innocent spontaneity of our youth and childhood; it must also be married to the passion of the adult human being, which is a passion to live beyond one’s death.”
“Courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.”
“Depression is the inability to construct a future.”
“Hate is not the opposite of love; apathy is.”
“It requires greater courage to preserve inner freedom, to move on in one’s inward journey into new realms, than to stand defiantly for outer freedom. It is often easier to play the martyr, as it is to be rash in battle.”
“One does not become fully human painlessly.”
“Human freedom involves our capacity to pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight.”
“Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”
“Freedom is man’s capacity to take a hand in his own development. It is our capacity to mold ourselves.”
“Life comes from physical survival; but the good life comes from what we care about.
Care is a state in which something does matter; it is the source of human tenderness.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Ana Teresa Fernandez: “Growing up in Mexico, Ana Teresa Fernandez learned at an early age about the double standards imposed on women and their sexuality. Through performance-based paintings, Fernandez explores the territories that encompass these different boundaries and stereotypes: physical, emotional, and psychological.
Fernandez subverts the typical folkloric representations of Mexican women by changing the protagonist’s uniform to the quintessential little black dress, a symbol of American prosperity and femininity and of the Mexican tradition of wearing black for a year after a death. Her paintings portray actual performances where Fernandez takes on the Sisyphean task of cleaning the environment – sweeping sand on a beach, vacuuming a dirt road – to accentuate the idea of disposable labor resources.”
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
“Life has the dimension of a tree in the eyes of an insect. Life is a strange sense experienced by a migrating bird.” – Sohrab Sepehri, Persian poet and painter, who died 21 April 1980.
In describing Sepehri, one critic states, “Well-versed in Buddhism, mysticism and Western traditions, he mingled the Western concepts with Eastern ones, thereby creating a kind of poetry unsurpassed in the history of Persian literature. To him, new forms were new means to express his thoughts and feelings.”
“The Footsteps of Water”
Life’s a pleasant tradition.
Life’s wing is as vast as death.
Life’s a jump the size of love.
Life’s not something,
we put on the mantel of habit
It does not matter where I am.
The sky is always mine.
Windows, ideas, air, love,
earth, all mine.
Why does it matter if sometimes,
the mushrooms of nostalgia grow?
Let’s take off our clothes.
Water is just a foot away.
Let’s have a basket and
fill it up with all the greens
and all the reds.
We are not to comprehend;
the secret of roses, but maybe
swimming in the incantation of roses.
Or may be looking for
the song of truth
between the morning glory,
and the century.
There was a special moment,
All doors were open.
No leaves, no branches,
The garden of annihilation had appeared.
Birds of places were silent,
This silent, that silent,
The silence itself was utterance.
What was that area?
Seems an ewe and a wolf,
Standing side by side.
The shape of the sound, pale
The voice of the shape, weak
Was the curtain folded?
I was gone, he was gone,
We had lost us.
The beauty was alone.
Every river had become a sea,
Every being had become a Buddha.
Fancies in Springtime: Andrea Pirlo
“Becoming a footballer is only the first half of the silent prayer a kid offers up to the sky or confides to his teacher in a primary school essay. The second part is the name of the team he wants to play for.”
American Comic Genius – Part I of II: Josh Billings
“There is only one good substitute for the endearments of a sister, and that is the endearments of some other fellow’s sister.” – Josh Billings, the pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw, American writer, humorist, lecturer, and friend of Mark Twain, who was born 21 April 1818.
Some quotes from the work of Josh Billings:
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
“Advice is like castor oil, easy to give, but dreadful to take.”
“As long as we are lucky we attribute it to our smartness; our bad luck we give the gods credit for.”
“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand.”
“Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.”
“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” “Don’t mistake pleasure for happiness. They are a different breed of dog.”
“Don’t take the bull by the horns, take him by the tail; then you can let go when you want to.” “Experience is a school where a man learns what a big fool he has been.”
“Flattery is like cologne water: to be smelt, not swallowed.”
“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.”
“Health is like money, we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”
“I hate to be a kicker, I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking, Is the one that gets the grease.”
“It is much easier to repent of sins that we have committed than to repent of those we intend to commit.”
“It’s not ignorance does so much damage; it’s knowin’ so derned much that ain’t so.”
“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.”
“Man was created a little lower than the angels, and has been getting lower ever since.”
“Most people repent their sins by thanking God they ain’t so wicked as their neighbor.”
“Motivation and inspiration energize people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do but by satisfying basic human needs for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals. Such feelings touch us deeply and elicit a powerful response.” “Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first.”
“One of the rarest things that a man ever does is to do the best he can.”
“Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.”
“The best way to convince a fool he is wrong is to let him have his way.”
“The man whose only pleasure in life is making money weighs less on the moral scale than an angleworm.”
“There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory.”
“There are some people so addicted to exaggeration that they can’t tell the truth without lying.”
“There may come a time when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, but I am still betting on the lion.”
“Time is like money, the less we have of it to spare the further we make it go.”
“When a man comes to me for advice, I find out the kind of advice he wants, and I give it to him.”
Fancies in Springtime: Alex Nye
“All around him the branches of the trees had frozen solid, reaching out white fingers of glass that looked as if they would shatter in any breeze, or chime like musical bells. The world looked strangely magical.”
American Comic Genius – Part II of II: Mark Twain
“The man who is a pessimist before 48 knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little.” – Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, American writer, humorist, and author of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” who died 21 April 1910.
Some quotes from the work of Mark Twain:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
“Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough.”
“Never put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.”
“Concerning the difference between man and the jackass: some observers hold that there isn’t any. But this wrongs the jackass.”
“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”
“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”
“It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them.”
“Familiarity breeds contempt – and children.”
“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”
“Of the demonstrably wise there are but two: those who commit suicide, and those who keep their reasoning faculties atrophied with drink.”
“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.”
“Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.”
American Art – Part II of V: Roy Kerckhoffs
Artist Statement: “In my work I enjoy conveying a story of a place with a history. I love bold textures as these are created by passing time, therefore putting emphasis on bygone days. In particular, I aim to show the beauty that exists in human-made wooden, concrete and steel structures contrasting with soft organic forms from nature. My favorite subjects are industrial objects, ghost towns and coastal themes with an element of human origin in it. To obtain my goal I portray these by high-contrast black and white photographs and hand color the photographs with an oil-based paint, using similar techniques as in the early days of photography. My frames have a relation with the subject matter, such that the final product is an integrated whole.”
Fancies in Springtime: Russell Hoban
“An ordinary mirror is silvered at the back but the window of the night train has darkness behind the glass. My face and the faces of other travellers were now mirrored on this darkness in a succession of stillnesses. Consider this, said the darkness: any motion at any speed is a succession of stillnesses; any section through an action will show just such a plane of stillness as this dark window in which your seeking face is mirrored. And in each plane of stillness is the moment of clarity that makes you responsible for what you do.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Jonathan Holden
Day after day, along with his placid
automobiles, that well-groomed
sallow young man had been waiting for
me, as in the cheerful, unchanging
weather of a billboard—pacing
the tiles, patting his tie, knotting, un-
knotting the façade of his smile
while staring out the window.
He was so bad at the job
he reminded me of myself
the summer I failed
at selling ‘Time’ and ‘Life’ in New Jersey.
Even though I was a boy
I could feel someone else’s voice
crawl out of my mouth,
spoiling every word,
like this cowed, polite kid in his tie
and badge that said ‘Greg,’
saying ‘Ma’am’ to my wife, calling
me ‘Sir,’ retailing the air with such piety
I had to find anything out the window.
Maybe the rain. It was gray
and as honestly wet as ever. Something
we could both believe.
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Valery Koroshilov: ”I was born in Russia and received an architectural education.
Fifteen years ago I found a home in Britain. I work in two studios: one in London, and one on the Greek Island of Samos, where I travel every summer to paint.
My artistic career started in 1992 after an exhibition of graphic works in Amsterdam. That first public exposure led to the invitations from three more galleries to show my work. Since then I exhibit regularly, and have participated in more than 100 exhibitions worldwide.”
Fancies in Springtime: Stephen L. Burns
Defending the Land – Part I of II: John Muir
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir, Scottish-American naturalist, author, advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States, and founder of the Sierra Club, who was born 21 April 1838.
Some quotes from the work of John Muir:
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
“The sun shines not on us but in us.”
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
“Going to the mountains is going home.”
“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”
“Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress.”
“When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.”
“We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men.”
“How narrow we selfish conceited creatures are in our sympathies! How blind to the rights of all the rest of creation!”
“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
Fancies in Springtime: John Marzluff
“Those of us who retain dead trees or place nest boxes in our yards enjoy the wonder of watching woodpeckers listen and dig for termites; we are serenaded by wrens; and we benefit from the appetites of swallow, chickadee, bluebird, and flycatcher broods that are sated on insects, including pesky mosquitoes.”
Defending the Land – Part II of II: Aldo Leopold
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see the land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” – Aldo Leopold, American scientist, ecologist, writer, forester, environmentalist, author of “Sand County Almanac,” and elaborator of “The Land Ethic,” who died 21 April 1948.
A few quotes from “Sand County Almanac”:
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.”
“To those devoid of imagination a blank place on the map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.”
“Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays.”
“The modern dogma is comfort at any cost.”
“Some paintings become famous because, being durable, they are viewed by successive generations, in each of which are likely to be found a few appreciative eyes.
I know a painting so evanescent that it is seldom viewed at all, except by some wandering deer. It is a river who wields the brush, and it is the same river who, before I can bring my friends to view his work, erases it forever from human view. After that it exists only in my mind’s eye.
Like other artists, my river is temperamental; there is no predicting when the mood to paint will come upon him, or how long it will last. But in midsummer, when the great white fleets cruise the sky for day after flawless day, it is worth strolling down to the sandbars just to see whether he has been at work.”
American Art – Part III of V: Sabin Howard
In the words of one critic, “The Torino-born sculptor Sabin Howard grew up in New York City and in Torino, Italy. He studied art at the Philadelphia College of Art and then earned his MFA from the New York Academy of Art. For twenty years, he taught at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has been elected to the board of the National Sculpture Society. He has received numerous commissions and has showed his work at more than fifty solo and group shows.”
According to a second critic, “Sabin Howard is a sculptor whose work radiates a startling presence while finding its roots in the classical past. …Howard mixes Roman gods with abstract forms and sees himself as a new kind of Renaissance figure-the artist-businessman with his own Medici clients. His bronze sculptures exert an outward pressure against their own metal skin, textured in pointillist marks. Formally and technically, the work is wonderfully compelling.”
Fancies in Springtime: Ken Kesey
“I realized I still had my eyes shut. I had shut them when I put my face to the screen, like I was scared to look outside. Now I had to open them. I looked out the window and saw for the first time how the hospital was out in the country. The moon was low in the sky over the pastureland; the face of it was scarred and scuffed where it had just torn up out of the snarl of scrub oak and madrone trees on the horizon. The stars up close to the moon were pale; they got brighter and braver the farther they got out of the circle of light ruled by the giant moon. I was off on a hunt with Papa and the uncles and I lay rolled in blankets Grandma had woven, lying off a piece from where the men hunkered around the fire as they passed a quart jar of cactus liquor in a silent circle. I watched that big Oregon prairie moon above me put all the stars around it to shame. I kept awake watching, to see if the moon ever got dimmer or the stars got brighter, till the dew commenced to drift onto my cheeks and I had to pull a blanket over my head.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Part of a Legacy”
By Frank Steele
I take pillows outdoors to sun them
as my mother did. “Keeps bedding fresh,”
she said. It was April then, too—
buttercups fluffing their frail sails,
one striped bee humming grudges, a crinkle
of jonquils. Weeds reclaimed bare ground.
All of these leaked somehow
into the pillows, looking odd where they
simmered all day, the size of hams, out of place
on grass. And at night I could feel
some part of my mother still with me
in the warmth of my face as I dreamed
baseball and honeysuckle, sleeping
Here is one writer describing the artistry of German painter Siegfried Zademack (born 1952): “Siegfried Zademack’s surrealistic visionary paintings make recipients and reviewers wonder. The arrangement of his pictorial thoughts immensely exceeds a realistic reproduction. His pictures allow us to slip in metaphysical dimensions, between humorous irony and the unfathomable deepness of our souls.”
The first painting posted below is called “North Sea (after a scene in J. W. Waterhouse).” The scene Zademack alludes to is the Waterhouse painting “Hylas and the Nymphs,” which I have placed immediately after the Zademack work for instructive comparison.
Fancies in Springtime: Christopher Lasch
“The best defenses against the terrors of existence are the homely comforts of love, work, and family life, which connect us to a world that is independent of our wishes yet responsive to our needs. It is through love and work, as Freud noted in a characteristically pungent remark, that we exchange crippling emotional conflict for ordinary unhappiness. Love and work enable each of us to explore a small corner of the world and to come to accept it on its own terms. But our society tends either to devalue small comforts or else to expect too much of them. Our standards of ‘creative, meaningful work’ are too exalted to survive disappointment. Our ideal of ‘true romance’ puts an impossible burden on personal relationships. We demand too much of life, too little of ourselves.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“In Your Absence”
By Judith Harris
Not yet summer,
but unseasonable heat
pries open the cherry tree.
It stands there stupefied,
in its sham, pink frills,
dense with early blooming.
Then, as afternoon cools
into more furtive winds,
I look up to see
a blizzard of petals
rushing the sky.
Fancies in Springtime: John A. Byers
“It is hypocritical to exhort the Brazilians to conserve their rainforest after we have already destroyed the grassland ecosystem that occupied half the continent when we found it. A large-scale grassland restoration project would give us some moral authority when we seek conservation abroad.
I must admit that I also like the idea because it would mean a better home for pronghorn, currently pushed by agriculture into marginal habitats-The high sagebrush deserts of the West. I would love to return the speedsters to their evolutionary home, the Floor of the Sky. Imagine a huge national reserve where anyone could see what caused Lewis and Clark to write with such enthusiasm in their journals-the sea of grass and flowers dotted with massive herds of bison, accompanied by the dainty speedsters and by great herds of elk. Grizzly bears and wolves would patrol the margins of the herds and coyotes would at last be reduced to their proper place. The song of the meadowlarks would pervade the prairie and near water the spring air would ring with the eerie tremolos of snipe.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Pam Powell
Artist Statement: “I have a passion for the human figure and love the variety of expression in the human form. I want my paintings to be like visual poems, condensing time, creating a mood and evoking an emotion. People who buy my paintings often ask me to tell them the story in the painting, but I’ve learned that it’s better not to tell my story. The painting must speak to the person who views it.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Twilight: After Haying”
By Jane Kenyon
Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?
The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)
The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed–
–sings from the dusty stubble.
These things happen. . .the soul’s bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses. . .
The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.
Fancies in Springtime: Ryszard Kapuscinski
“There is something in this January Siberian landscape that overpowers, oppresses, stuns. Above all, it is its enormity, its boundlessness, its oceanic limitlessness. The earth has no end here; the world has no end. Man is not created for such measureless. For him a comfortable, palpable, serviceable measure is the measure of his village, his field, street, house. At sea, the size of the ship’s deck will be such a measure. Man is created for the kind of space that he can traverse at one try, with a single effort.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part VIII)
Artist Statement: “My artwork can best be described as expressionism. The term applies to work that rejects camera snapshot realism, and instead, expresses emotion by distortion and strong colors. My paintings reflect an interest in the day-to-day activities of Alaskans such as fishing, berry picking, children at play, crabbing, and whaling. I am also fascinated with the legends of Alaska’s Native people. While I find much to paint around Juneau, most of my material comes from sketching trips taken to the far corners of Alaska. I’ve taught school on King Island in the Bering Sea, traveled and sketched almost every community in Alaska.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Allan Paterson
To have that letter arrive
was like the mist that took a meadow
and revealed hundreds
of small webs once invisible
The inevitable often
stands by plainly but unnoticed
till it hands you a letter
that says death and you notice
the weed field had been
readying its many damp handkerchiefs
Fancies in Springtime: Virginia Alison
“Gazing out from the mountains, the clouds are whiter, the sky is bluer, the air seeping into your lungs is as clear as the water roaring down from the snow, melting on the high peaks. A place where heaven is a little closer.”
American Art – Part V of V: Sarah Steiber
In the words of one writer, “Contemporary artist Sarah Stieber’s style of Electric Realism is a stunning amplification of real life, using a bejeweled palette of brilliant hues and evocative energy to explore a spirited reality. A spectacle of saturated colors, her paintings are a kaleidoscope to her world of wishful seeing, magnifying the human experience with dazzling color too often hidden in plain sight.
From her studio in San Diego, California, Stieber vivaciously harnesses the bold and the vibrant. Her radiant figurative depictions showcase Stieber’s fascination with the human condition. Her work shines a brilliant light on daily life, depicting her subjects in a moment of overcoming adversity and achieving the mindfulness and playfulness that reality often corrodes.”