American Art – Part I of V: Jamie Chase
Artist Statement: “As a painter, I am linked to a history of visual storytelling that may seem almost archaic in our high-tech society, and yet because image-making has such deep roots in the human psyche, its instinct continues to move through us.”
My shadow —
I woke to a wind swirling the curtains light and dark
and the birds twittering on the roofs, I lay cold
in the early light in my room high over London.
What fear was it that made the wind sound like a fire
so that I got up and looked out half-asleep
at the calm rows of street-lights fading far below?
Only the wind blew.
But in the dream I woke from, you
came running through the traffic, tugging me, clinging
to my elbow, your eyes spoke
what I could not grasp — Nothing,
if you were here!
The wind of the early quiet
merges slowly now with a thousand rolling wheels.
The lights are out, the air is loud.
It is an ordinary January day.
My shadow, do you hear the streets?
Are you at my heels? Are you here?
And I throw back the sheets.
Here is the Artist Statement of Canadian painter Gary Cody: “When people speak of a single, defining moment that was instrumental in shaping their careers, I remember a show that was featured at the Alberta College of Art when I was there as a painting student.
Two paintings absolutely entranced me- a pair of still life pieces by Giorgio Morandi. I really hadn’t appreciated what could be done with still life until that moment. And although my work has little in common visually with Morandi, he continues to be a hero of mine.
Morandi’s work illustrates what, for me, is the paradox of still life painting – the simpler the work becomes, the more complex it becomes. I’m continually surprised at the visual complexity and richness of something as simple as an apple refracted through a glass jar- ‘worlds within worlds,’ all around us but rarely appreciated. It’s the need to capture and share this wonderful complexity- these visual surprises- that is my motivation to paint.
My main interest remains glass – its transparency, distortion, and how it affects objects around it. However, I’m trying to get away from more traditional elements such as fruit, vases etc. and replacing them with non-traditional objects – rusted metal, old toys, broken clock faces, cheap plastic flowers.
I’m also exploring variations on point-of-view, using more extreme ‘camera angles’ than people might be used to. The third element I’ve been playing with is the format of the painting. They’ve been getting more extreme in their dimensions, both vertically and horizontally.
And perhaps the biggest area of ongoing change is the work’s complexity. The pieces are becoming more complex as I add more and more elements to each piece. I love the complexity of composition that results from this.”
A Poem for Today
“Looking for Gold”
By William Stafford
A flavor like wild honey begins
when you cross the river. On a sandbar
sunlight stretches out its limbs, or is it
a sycamore, so brazen, so clean and so bold?
You forget about gold. You stare—and a flavor
is rising all the time from the trees.
Back from the river, over by a thick
forest, you feel the tide of wild honey
flooding your plans, flooding the hours
till they waver forward looking back. They can’t
return; that river divides more than
two sides of your life. The only way
is farther, breathing that country, becoming
wise in its flavor, a native of the sun.
Fancies in Springtime: Abraham Lincoln
Some quotes from Herbert Spencer:
“The wise man must remember that while he is a descendant of the past, he is a parent of the future.”
“No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy.”
“Hero-worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom.”
“Marriage: A word which should be pronounced ‘mirage’.”
“When a man’s knowledge is not in order, the more of it he has the greater will be his confusion.”
“Objects we ardently pursue bring little happiness when gained; most of our pleasures come from unexpected sources.”
“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.”
“How often misused words generate misleading thoughts.”
“Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect.”
“Marriage: a ceremony in which rings are put on the finger of the lady and through the nose of the gentleman.”
“Music must take rank as the highest of the fine arts – as the one which, more than any other, ministers to the human spirit.”
“Education has for its object the formation of character.”
“In science the important thing is to modify and change one’s ideas as science advances.”
“Our lives are universally shortened by our ignorance.”
“Science is organized knowledge.”
“Society exists for the benefit of its members, not the members for the benefit of society.”
“The preservation of health is a duty. Few seem conscious that there is such a thing as physical morality.”
“The Republican form of government is the highest form of government: but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature, a type nowhere at present existing.”
“Volumes might be written upon the impiety of the pious.”
Here is the Artist Statement of Ukrainian painter Stanislav Zvolsky: “All my artworks are created in awe and with love. Women’s images occupy an important place in my paintings, because women are the most beautiful creatures on this planet, and the universe has a feminine nature too.”
A Second Poem for Today
“Snip Your Hair”
By Devon Regina DeSalva
I’ll snip your hair
Cut it all off until you look like a man
I will replace your weight loss bars with bars to make you gain
I will cut your credit cards in half
I will shrink all your clothes
Every trick in the book I will try
I will give all your shoes to the dog
I will do it all
Crazy is where you will be driven
Off a cliff you will want to jump
Then when I am all done
I will look at you with big doughy eyes
And I will say I am sorry
But I have my fingers crossed
Fancies in Springtime: Chloe Thurlow
“And as he walked through the snow his footsteps disappeared behind him. He felt at that moment that he was coming from nowhere and going nowhere, that life isn’t a dream or a fantasy, it is a long trudge through falling snow.”
27 April 1870 – Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman and a pioneer in field archaeology, first uncovers the ruins that are generally (but not conclusively) identified with Homeric Troy.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
“Still, the last sad memory hovers round, and sometimes drifts across like floating mist, cutting off sunshine and chilling the remembrance of happier times. There have been joys too great to be described in words, and there have been griefs upon which I have not dared to dwell; and with these in mind I say: Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.” – From “Scrambles Amongst the Alps,” by Edward Whymper, English mountaineer, explorer, illustrator, and author best known for making the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, who was born 27 April 1840.
Four members of Whymper’s party were killed during the descent of the Matterhorn.
A Third Poem for Today
By Barry Goldenson
The station platform, clean and broad, his stage
for push-ups, sit-ups, hamstring stretch,
as he laid aside his back pack, from which
his necessaries bulged, as he bulged
through jeans torn at butt, knee and thigh,
in deep palaver with himself—sigh,
chatter, groan. Deranged but common.
We sat at a careful distance to spy
on his performance, beside a woman
in her thirties, dressed as in her teens—
this is L.A.—singing to herself.
How composed, complete and sane
she seemed. A book by the Dalai Lama
in her hands, her face where pain and wrong
were etched, here becalmed, with faint chirps
leaking from the headphones of her walkman.
Not talking. Singing, lost in song.
Fancies in Springtime: Madeleine L’Engle
“They’ve never known a time when people drank rain water because it was pure, or could eat snow, or swim in any river or brook. The last time I drove to Washington the traffic was so bad that I could have made better time with a horse.”
“Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.” – Cecil Day-Lewis, Anglo-Irish poet and the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1968 until his death in 1972, who was born 27 April 1904.
“Walking Away” (1962)
It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –
A sunny day with leaves just turning,
The touch-lines new-ruled – since I watched you play
Your first game of football, then, like a satellite
Wrenched from its orbit, go drifting away
Behind a scatter of boys. I can see
You walking away from me towards the school
With the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free
Into a wilderness, the gait of one
Who finds no path where the path should be.
That hesitant figure, eddying away
Like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,
Has something I never quite grasp to convey
About nature’s give-and-take – the small, the scorching
Ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay.
I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show –
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
American Art – Part II of V: Samantha French
Here is one critic describing the artistry of painter Samantha French: “Samantha French’s paintings and mixed media drawings reflect a connection to the past and her own memories of life in Minnesota. Her series focusing on bathers is her link to home and the continual search for the feeling of sun on your face, warm summer days at the lake. Shades of blue dominate her work as gestural figures in swimming attire represent memories of her past and a romanticized time far before hers with wool suits, dark eyeliner and bob haircuts.”
Singing America – Part I of III: Don McLean
Fancies in Springtime: Barry Lopez
“Up there in that room, as I see it, is the reading and the thinking-through, a theory of rivers, of trees moving, of falling light. Here on the river, as I lurch against a freshening of the current, is the practice of rivers. In navigating by the glow of the Milky Way, the practice of light. In steadying with a staff, the practice of wood.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“You Reading This, Be Ready”
By William Stafford
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life.
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
Italian painter Sergio Cerchi lives and works in Florence. According to one critic, “The figures and shapes make his vision of reality, marked by an ethical impulse that expresses values not only artistic, but philosophical, historical and psychosocial.”
Fancies in Springtime: Michael Pollan
“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world. ”
Some quotes from the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.”
“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.”
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
“It is not length of life, but depth of life.”
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
“Every artist was first an amateur.”
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
“Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”
“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.”
“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.”
“Earth laughs in flowers.”
“People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.”
“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.”
“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”
“Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.”
“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
American Art – Part III of V: Z. L. Feng
Artist Statement: “With watercolor you cannot cover your mistakes, so you must know what you are doing…Usually I go around – to the river, the forest, the lake – to try and find interesting compositions…Capturing the personality and character is very important, and painting eyes is the most difficult aspect of portraiture. I concentrate on serious portraits expressing my subject’s character, their life struggle and their vision. I am still learning and experimenting. My goal is to develop empathy between the viewer and my subject.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Betty Adcock
The wooden scent of wagons,
the sweat of animals—these places
keep everything—breath of the cotton gin,
black damp floors of the icehouse.
Shadows the color of a mirror’s back
break across faces. The luck
is always bad. This light is brittle,
old pale hair kept in a letter.
The wheeze of porch swings and lopped gates
seeps from new mortar.
Singing America – Part II of III: Arlo Guthrie
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Marianne Boruch
I walked out, and the nest
was already there by the step. Woven basket
of a saint
sent back to life as a bird
who proceeded to make
a mess of things. Wind
right through it, and any eggs
long vanished. But in my hand it was
intricate pleasure, even the thorny reeds
softened in the weave. And the fading
leaf mold, hardly
itself anymore, merely a trick
of light, if light
can be tricked. Deep in a life
is another life. I walked out, the nest
already by the step.
Fancies in Springtime: Helen Oyeyemi
“It was snowing when I got off the bus at Flax Hill. Not quite regular snowfall, not exactly a blizzard. This is how it was: The snow came down heavily, settled for about a minute, then the wind moved it – more rolled it, really – onto another target. One minute you were covered in snow, then it sped off sideways, as if a brisk, invisible giant had taken pity and brushed you down.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Fealing Lin
Here is one critic describing the background and artistry of Fealing Lin:
“Award-winning watercolorist Fealing Lin of San Marino, California was born in Taiwan and began her journey into artistic expression as a protégé of renowned professor Ching-Jung Chen in Taiwan, subsequently pursuing her career in the United States with watercolorist and senior art historian professor Verna Wells.
With a fluidity of colors, Ms. Lin combines impressionistic strokes and semi-abstract techniques to elicit life and movement in her portrait and landscape watercolors. Her paintings adorn the paper with both harmony and emotion.”
“And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.” – From “The Broken Tower,” by Hart Crane, American poet, who died 27 April 1932.
“At Melville’s Tomb”
Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.
And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.
Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.
Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides . . . High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian painter Tom Alberts (born 1962): “Tom Alberts chronicles contemporary life, yet figures often seem to have entered the stage from another era and the events that are about to engross them are yet to begin. Time is therefore uncertain, the only imprecise element in a pictorial space that is extremely precise. This paradox is at the core of his approach to picture making. Drawing from sources as divergent as film noir, numerous artists from the Renaissance, Rembrandt, and everyday experience, he has constructed a body of work that engages us in a tangible sense of confrontation with the mysteries and incongruities of the commonplace.”
Fancies in Springtime: Robert M. Pirsig
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes much sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge. And if you project forward from that pattern, then sometimes you can come up with something.”
Singing America – Part III of III: Marc Cohn
A Seventh Poem for Today
“The Raspberry Room”
By Karin Gottshall
It was solid hedge, loops of bramble and thorny
as it had to be with its berries thick as bumblebees.
It drew blood just to get there, but I was queen
of that place, at ten, though the berries shook like fists
in the wind, daring anyone to come in. I was trying
so hard to love this world—real rooms too big and full
of worry to comfortably inhabit—but believing I was born
to live in that cloistered green bower: the raspberry patch
in the back acre of my grandparents’ orchard. I was cross-
stitched and beaded by its fat, dollmaker’s needles. The effort
of sliding under the heavy, spiked tangles that tore
my clothes and smeared me with juice was rewarded
with space, wholly mine, a kind of room out of
the crush of the bushes with a canopy of raspberry
dagger-leaves and a syrup of sun and birdsong.
Hours would pass in the loud buzz of it, blood
made it mine—the adventure of that red sting singing
down my calves, the place the scratches brought me to:
just space enough for a girl to lie down.
Fancies in Springtime: Claude Monet
“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Gail Niebrugge (Part II)
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.
Traveling by mail plane, ski plane, helicopter, boat, raft, ATV, canoe, truck and camper as well as hiking on foot, enables her to gain first-hand knowledge and understanding of Alaska’s wilderness, wildlife, landscape and history. Returning home to work in the studio her love of these subjects is translated into colorful paintings.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Orhan Pamuk
An Eighth Poem for Today
“Sending These Messages”
By William Stafford
Over these writings I bent my head.
Now you are considering them. If you
turn away I will look up: a bridge
that was there will be gone.
For the rest of your life I will stand here,
If these writings can bring a turn
or an echo that touches you ~ maybe
a face, a slant, a tune ~ you will stop
too and bend over them. When you
look up, your thought will reach
wherever I am.
I know it is strange. And there is no measure
for this. The only connection we make
is like a twinge when sometimes they change
the beat in music, and we sprawl with it
and hear another world for a minute
that is almost there.
Fancies in Springtime: Neil deGrasse Tyson
“The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”
American Art – Part V of V: Rich Bowman
Artist Statement: “My signature work is the work that I’m most known for and is the base of my passion. This work is what has set the stage for my entry into the fine art world. Bold, colorful, big-sky oil paintings. I’ve always had a passion for being outdoors. My love of light and its powerful effects on me and the environment in which I live really are the driver in all these works. I’ve tried to expand my subject-matter several times. So far, I have always returned to nature, specifically landscapes. The flexibility of the subject-matter and the endless possibilities continue to intrigue my imagination. My signature work stretches reality through light, color, and design but always stays within reach of what it’s representing. Most of this work I reference photographs or at least starts off influenced by one or more photos.”