American Art – Part I of IV: Ted Meyer
In the words of one writer, “Through his artmaking, photography, design, and publishing projects, Ted portrays the beauty and humor of physicality while exploring narratives of the human condition.”
A Poem for Today
By Amy Lowell
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
On her plaited shell?
Was Botticelli’s vision
Fairer than mine;
And were the painted rosebuds
He tossed his lady
Of better worth
Than the words I blow about you
To cover your too great loveliness
As with a gauze
Of misted silver?
You stand poised
In the blue and buoyant air,
Cinctured by bright winds,
Treading the sunlight.
And the waves which precede you
Ripple and stir
The sands at my feet.
Fancies in Springtime: Donna Lynn Hope
24 April 1792 – Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composes “La Marseillaise.” In the words of one historian, “The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic’s anthem in 1795. It acquired its nickname after being sung in Paris by volunteers from Marseille marching on the capital.”
Here’s a stirring rendition of the anthem:
Fancies in Springtime: Christopher Lasch
“Advertising serves not so much to advertise products as to promote consumption as a way of life. It ‘educates’ the masses into an unappeasable appetite not only for goods but for new experiences and personal fulfillment.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
Like brides behind veils, my people peep from drawn curtains and feel the air with their fingers. They do not see any use for heat and are not hospitable to it. Electric fans focus on bare shoulder blades and erect nipples.
Mosquitoes persist. Hands do not move fast enough.
On arrival, my people were instructed to throw away their black clothes, then taught to distract the sun. In crisp white pajamas and khadi shirts, they walked the camp till it paled to a canvas of gathering spirits.
Night led them to the edge of the stream. Feet in water, they talked about what they had left to lose.
Some afternoons, old stories were translated into Tibetan. ‘You are blessed,’ strangers said. ‘God has delivered you. Such is his bountiful nature.’
Sparrows tattooed the air. Prayer beads clicked as mantras circulated above the parable of a son who erred and was forgiven. The story teller’s lips bent with crystals of sweat.
‘Jesus loves you.’ For years, F thought Jesus was the president of a country. He thought he was a rich old man.
He told one story-telling woman she was wrong. Jesus had nothing to do with it. It was all fate.
Fancies in Springtime: Dee Holmes
“He rose and walked to the windows. The moon reflected the pristine whiteness blowing into shadowy silvery mounds beneath the stars. It spread out before him, all pure and flowing and sterling. There’d always been a gentle peace and welcome solitude on a wintry night in this house. A place of memories and innocent times; a place for new plans.”
“I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.” – Willa Cather, American writer and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize (for “One of Ours”), who died 24 April 1947.
In the words of one critic, Cather “achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as “O Pioneers!,” “My Ántonia,” and “The Song of the Lark.”
Some quotes from the work of Willa Cather:
“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers…I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”
“I wanted to walk straight on through the red grass and over the edge of the world, which could not be very far away. The light and air abot me told me that the world ended here: only the ground and sun and sky were left, and if one went a little farther there would only be sun and sky, and one would float off into them, like the tawny hawks which sailed over our heads making slow shadows on the grass.”
“Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.”
“While the train flashed through never-ending miles of ripe wheat, by country towns and bright-flowered pastures and oak groves wilting in the sun, we sat in the observation car, where the woodwork was hot to the touch and red dust lay deep over everything. The dust and heat, the burning wind, reminded us of many things. We were talking about what it is like to spend one’s childhood in little towns like these, buried in wheat and corn, under stimulating extremes of climate: burning summers when the world lies green and billowy beneath a brilliant sky, when one is fairly stifled in vegetation, in the color and smell of strong weeds and heavy harvests; blustery winters with little snow, when the whole country is stripped bare and gray as sheet-iron. We agreed that no one who had not grown up in a little prairie town could know anything about it. It was a kind of freemasonry, we said.”
“I slept that night in the room I used to have when I was a little boy, with the summer wind blowing in at the windows, bringing the smell of the ripe fields. I lay awake and watched the moonlight shining over the barn and the stacks and the pond, and the windmill making its old dark shadow against the blue sky.”
“Trees were so rare in that country, and they had to make such a hard fight to grow, that we used to feel anxious about them, and visit them as if they were persons.”
Fancies in Springtime: Rebecca Goldstein
“Given cognitive vulnerabilities, it would be convenient to have an arrangement whereby reality could tell us off; and that is precisely what science is. Scientific methodology is the arrangement that allows reality to answer us back.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Rynn Williams
I try tearing paper into tiny, perfect squares—
they cut my fingers. Warm milk, perhaps,
stirred counter-clockwise in a cast iron pan—
but even then there’s burning at the edges,
angry foam-hiss. I’ve been told
to put trumpet flowers under my pillow,
I do: stamen up, the old crone said.
But the pollen stains, and there are bees,
I swear, in those long yellow chambers, echoing,
the way the house does, mocking, with its longevity—
each rib creaking and bending where I’m likely to break—
I try floating out along the long O of ‘lone,’
to where it flattens to ‘loss,’ and just stay there
disconnecting the dots of my night sky
as one would take apart a house made of sticks,
carefully, last addition to first,
like sheep leaping backward into their pens.
Fancies in Springtime: Mehmet Murat Ildan
Oleg Zhivetin was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 1964 to a family of Russian painters. He is a graduate of the prestigious Surikov Art Institute. In his words, “I show in my paintings what people cannot see in real life. I show individuality, the intelligence, dreams and emotions, that every human being is different and because of that they are beautiful.”
Fancies in Springtime: Brian Cox
“The scientific creation story has majesty, power and beauty. and is infused with a powerful message capable of lifting our spirits in a way that its multitudinous supernatural counterparts are incapable of matching. It teaches us that we are the products of 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolution and the mechanism by which meaning entered the universe, if only for a fleeting moment in time. Because the universe means something to me, and the fact that we are all agglomerations of quarks and electrons in a complex and fragile pattern that can perceive the beauty of the universe with visceral wonder, is, I think, a thought worth raising a glass to this Christmas.”
“For West is where we all plan to go some day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go.” – Robert Penn Warren, American poet, novelist, literary critic, and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel (for “All the King’s Men”) and two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who was born 24 April 1905. Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.
From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.
The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.
Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.
Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson
“People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah’s ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it’s about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.”
From the American History Archives: Joshua Slocum
A Fourth Poem for Today
“How Good Fortune Surprises Us”
By Jackson Wheeler
I was hauling freight
out of the Carolinas
up to the Cumberland Plateau
when, in Tennessee, I saw
from the freeway, at 2 am
a house ablaze.
Water from the firehoses arced
into luminescent rainbows.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Pirsig
“The doctrinal differences between Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them because verbalized statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself.”
Here is the Artist Statement of painter Krassimir Kolev: “I was born in Bulgaria, but now I live in Uppsala, Sweden with my wife Lena and our daughter Matilda. My paintings are realistic with a hyper-realistic touch. They are often emotional and expressive. The figures in my paintings express more presence than action.”
“Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author best known for a series of novels beginning with “Anne of Green Gables,” who died 24 April 1942.
Some quotes from the work of Lucy Maud Montgomery:
“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
“Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose, until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and the music, perhaps . . . perhaps . . . love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath.”
“Life is worth living as long as there’s a laugh in it.”
“It’s not what the world holds for you. It’s what you bring to it.”
“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?”
“Look at that sea, girls–all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn’t enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
“There are so many unpleasant things in the world already that there is no use in imagining any more.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Norwegian painter Christer Karlstad (born 1974): “In Karlstad’s constructed, ambiguous scenarios he freely engages in myths, symbols and archetypes, as this is how he sees and understands the world. When confronted by one of his paintings, wondering if somebody is dead or only sleeping, whether it’s good or evil, comforting or disturbing, the answers are actually to be found in the questions.
In his visual world of ‘staged mysticism’ the ordinary time perspective ceases to exist. Depictions of realistic situations give way to another agenda. Compositions revolve around scenarios where normality is challenged, replaced or consumed by something else, something unknown.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“In the House of the Voice of Maria Callas”
By Steve Orlen
In the house of the voice of Maria Callas
We hear the baby’s cries, and the after-supper
Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking
To different tunes, and ripe plums
Sleeping in their chipped bowl, and traffic sounds
Dissecting the avenues outside. We hear, like water
Pouring over time itself, the pure distillate arias
Of the numerous pampered queens who have reigned,
And the working girls who have suffered
The envious knives, and the breathless brides
With their horned helmets who have fallen in love
And gone crazy or fallen in love and died
On the grand stage at their appointed moments—
Who will sing of them now? Maria Callas is dead,
Although the full lips and the slanting eyes
And flared nostrils of her voice resurrect
Dramas we are able to imagine in this parlor
On evenings like this one, adding some color,
Adding some order. Of whom it was said:
‘She could imagine almost anything and give voice to it.’
Fancies in Springtime: Wes Adamson
American Art – Part II of IV: George Grey Barnard
Died 24 April 1938 – George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor.
From the American Old West: Annie Oakley
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“Something, most certainly, happens to a diver’s emotions underwater. It is not merely a side effect of the pleasing, vaguely erotic sensation of water pressure on the body. Nor is it alone the peculiar sense of weightlessness, which permits a diver to hang motionless in open water, observing sea life large as whales around him; not the ability of a diver, descending in that condition, to slowly tumble and rotate in all three spatial planes. It is not the exhilaration from disorientation that comes when one’s point of view starts to lose its ‘lefts’ and ‘down’ and gains instead something else, a unique perception that grows out of the ease of movement in three dimensions. It is not from the diminishment of gravity to a force little more emphatic than a suggestion. It is not solely exposure to an unfamiliar intensity of life. It is not a state of rapture with the bottomless blue world beneath one’s feet…it is some complicated mix of these emotions, together with the constant proximity of real terror.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Steve Hawley
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Thomas R. Smith
It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.
The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.
The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.
Fancies in Springtime: Gore Vidal
“Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy’ is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society…. To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Rie Munoz (Part XI)
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.
Fancies in Springtime: Robert Thurman
“Imagine a culture in which everything is geared toward helping all individuals become the best human beings they can be; in which individuals are driven to devoting their lives to becoming enlightened by the natural flood of compassion for others that arises from their wisdom.”
A Seventh Poem for Today
By Linda Gregg
All that is uncared for.
Left alone in the stillness
in that pure silence married
to the stillness of nature.
A door off its hinges,
shade and shadows in an empty room.
Leaks for light. Raw where
the tin roof rusted through.
The rustle of weeds in their
different kinds of air in the mornings,
year after year.
A pecan tree, and the house
made out of mud bricks. Accurate
and unexpected beauty, rattling
and singing. If not to the sun,
then to nothing and to no one.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
American Art – Part IV of IV: Victor Angelo
Victor Angelo studied at the University of California, San Diego; Art Students League of New York; and School of Visual Arts Manhattan New York.