American Art – Part I of IV: Christopher Stott
In the words of one writer, “Stott’s work is almost object portraiture, applying traditional still life compositions and lighting but ventures beyond time honored subject matter. Stott takes his cues from various eras of art including the interiors of Vermeer, the still life of Chardin to the realism of Thiebaud. With the addition of retro, vintage and antique objects like rotary telephones, typewriters, electric fans, and alarm clocks, he links the old with the new and applies a subtle narrative to his work, often with a quiet sense of humor.
The banal and ordinary subjects of his work are painted in a celebratory way, turning them in to iconic vestiges of the not so distant past. The simple yet bold compositions are set in variations of neutral grey and white tones. The paintings have repetition, rhythm and an emphasis on the basic geometric designs of the subjects with their finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary representational art.”
Happy Birthday to a National Treasure
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” – Henry David Thoreau, who was born on 12 July 1817.
In honor of Henry David Thoreau, his birthday should be a national holiday in the United States, and its observance would take the form of having every literate American read selections from his books and then go for a long walk, preferably in the woods, in order to ponder the meanings of the texts.
Fancies in Springtime: Emily Carr
“Oh, the glory of growth, silent, mighty, persistent, inevitable! To awaken, to open up like a flower to the light of a fuller consciousness!”
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Minnie Riperton
“Olivia Newton-John (is) Australia’s gift to insomniacs. It’s nothing but the blonde singing the bland.” – Minnie Riperton,
American singer-songwriter, who died on 12 July 1979, speaking musical truth.
Fancies in Springtime: Laura Ingalls Wilder
“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness — just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
A Poem for Today
“The Potato Eaters”
By Leonard Nathan
Sometimes, the naked taste of potato
reminds me of being poor.
The first bites are gratitude,
the rest, contented boredom.
The little kitchen still flickers
like a candle-lit room in a folktale.
Never again was my father so angry,
my mother so still as she set the table,
or I so much at home.
Fancies in Springtime: Kenneth Grahame
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Born 12 June 1928 – John Michael Wishart, a British artist.
Fancies in Springtime: Carl Sagan
“Herman Melville, in ‘Moby Dick,’ spoke for wanderers in all epochs and meridians: ‘I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas…’
Maybe it’s a little early. Maybe the time is not quite yet. But those other worlds— promising untold opportunities—beckon.
Silently, they orbit the Sun, waiting.”
“Men who pass most comfortably through this world are those who possess good digestions and hard hearts.” – Harriet Martineau, English social theorist, essayist, and feminist, who was born 12 June 1802.
Some quotes from the work of Harriet Martineau:
“It is my deliberate opinion that the one essential requisite of human welfare in all ways is scientific knowledge of human nature.”
“What office is there which involves more responsibility, which requires more qualifications, and which ought, therefore, to be more honorable, than that of teaching?”
“You had better live your best and act your best and think your best today; for today is the sure preparation for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows that follow.”
“Laws and customs may be creative of vice; and should be therefore perpetually under process of observation and correction: but laws and customs cannot be creative of virtue: they may encourage and help to preserve it; but they cannot originate it.”
“Any one must see at a glance that if men and women marry those whom they do not love, they must love those whom they do not marry.”
“If a test of civilization be sought, none can be so sure as the condition of that half of society over which the other half has power.”
“But is it not the fact that religion emanates from the nature, from the moral state of the individual? Is it not therefore true that unless the nature be completely exercised, the moral state harmonized, the religion cannot be healthy?”
“The progression of emancipation of any class usually, if not always, takes place through the efforts of individuals of that class.”
Fancies in Springtime: Alan Watts
“Whether we like it or not, change comes, and the greater the resistance, the greater the pain. Buddhism perceives the beauty of change, for life is like music in this: if any note or phrase is held for longer than its appointed time, the melody is lost. Thus Buddhism may be summed up in two phrases: ‘Let go!’ and ‘Walk on!’ Drop the craving for self, for permanence, for particular circumstances, and go straight ahead with the movement of life.”
In the works of one writer, “Liliya Popova is an artist from the Sakha Republic (also known as Yakutia) of the Russian Federation, who is now living and working in New York City. The people of Sakha live in northern Siberia, among the native Tungus people. They migrated from Tibet many years ago, and now speak the Turkic language and are Orthodox Christians. This mixture of ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds may explain the different traditions apparent in the artist’s inner world and her art.
Liliya Popova graduated from the Ilya Repin Academy of Arts, St. Petersburg. Liliya’s works are very personal, lyrical and feminine. They present themes and environments that are light-filled and radiate well-being and serenity.”
Fancies in Springtime: Wendell Berry
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
American Art – Part II of IV: Ted Lawson
Here is one critic describing the artistry of American sculptor Ted Lawson (born 1970): “Using figurative representation and geometric abstraction, Ted Lawson creates a narrative progression of forms that reveals something conceptually greater than the sum of their parts. Ted’s large scale works combine digital technology with highly crafted traditional sculpting methods to seamlessly produce conceptual objects that express the underlying analog truth within his subject matter. His working process in an exploration into the human existential experience through imagined models of the universe as physical form. He has been living and working in New York City creating original works from his studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.”
Fancies in Springtime: Abraham Lincoln
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Gyorgy Ligeti
Died 12 June 2006 – Gyorgy Ligeti, a Hungarian composer.
Below – “Atmospheres” is one of two Ligeti compositions to be part of the soundtrack of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” (The other is “Lux Aeterna.”)
Fancies in Springtime: Mary Austin
“When a woman ceases to alter the fashion of her hair, you guess that she has passed the crisis of her experience.”
Fancies in Springtime: Theodore Roosevelt
“I like my human experience served up with a little silence and restraint. Silence makes experience go further and, when it does die, gives it that dignity common to a thing one had touched and not ravished.” – Djuna Barnes, American writer and author of “Nightwood,” who was born 12 June 1892.
Some quotes from the work of Djuna Barnes:
“A man is whole only when he takes into account his shadow.”
“Our bones ache only while the flesh is on them.”
“I like my human experience served up with a little silence and restraint. Silence makes experience go further and, when it does die, gives it that dignity common to a thing one had touched and not ravished.”
“Why is it that whenever I hear music I think I’m a bride?”
“Those who turn the day into night, the young, the drug addict, the profligate, the drunken and that most miserable, the lover who watches all night long in fear and anguish. These can never again live the life of the day. When one meets them at high noon they give off, as if it were a protective emanation, something dark and muted. The light does not become them any longer. They begin to have an unrecorded look. It is as if they were being tried by the continual blows of an unseen adversary.”
“We are but skin about a wind, with muscles clenched against mortality. We sleep in a long reproachful dust against ourselves. We are full to the gorge with our own names for misery. Life, the pastures in which the night feeds and prunes the cud that nourishes us to despair. Life, the permission to know death. We were created that the earth might be made sensible of her inhuman taste; and love that the body might be so dear that even the earth should roar with it. Yes, we who are full to the gorge with misery should look well around, doubting everything seen, done, spoken, precisely because we have a word for it, and not its alchemy.”
A Second Poem for Today
It was the moonflowers that surprised us.
Early summer we noticed the soft gray foliage.
She asked for seedpods every year but I never saw them in her garden.
Never knew what she did with them.
Exotic and tropical, not like her other flowers.
I expected her to throw them in the pasture maybe,
a gift to the coyotes. Huge, platterlike white flowers
shining in the night to soften their plaintive howling.
A sound I love; a reminder, even on the darkest night,
that manicured lawns don’t surround me.
Midsummer they shot up, filled the small place by the back door,
sprawled over sidewalks, refused to be ignored.
Gaudy and awkward by day,
by night they were huge, soft, luminous.
Only this year, this year of her death
did they break free of their huge, prickly husks
and brighten the darkness she left.
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: Ada Jones and Bill Murray
12 June 1909 – “Shine on Harvest Moon,” by Ada Jones and Billy Murray, reaches number one on American popular music charts.
Below – My favorite rendition of this gentle song:
Fancies in Springtime: Kenneth Grahame
“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Carol Saxe
In the words of one writer, American painter Carol Saxe “is an award winning artist whose work has been published in posters by the New York Graphics Society. Biographical information about the artist is in the vertical file at the Watson library of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Saxe’s work is represented in numerous national, private and corporate collections.”
Fancies in Springtime: Nathan Reese Maher
“Do we not each dream of dreams? Do we not dance on the notes of lost
memories? Then are we not each dreamers of tomorrow and yesterday, since dreams play when time is askew? Are we not all adrift in the constant sea of trial and when all is done, do we not all yearn for ships to carry us home?”
“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank, Jewish victim of the Holocaust and author of “The Diary of a Young Girl,” who was born 12 June 1929.
Anne Frank received her diary as a gift on the occasion of her thirteenth birthday – 12 June 1942.
Some quotes from “The Diary of a Young Girl”:
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.”
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.”
“Memories mean more to me than dresses.”
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
“In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”
Fancies in Springtime: Emily Carr
“I want the ferocious, strangled lonesomeness of that place, creepy, nervy, forsaken… and the great dense forest behind full of unseen things and great silence, and on the sea the sun beating down…”
Back from the Territory – Art: Evon Zerbetz (Part VI)
In the words of one writer, “Evon carves with knives and gouges to create her imagery in slabs of linoleum. She rolls ink over the surface, lays cotton paper on top, and cranks the block through her etching press. This is repeated for each impression in the edition. If an image is in an edition of 70…she does this 70 times.
After the prints dry, Evon hand paints many of her linocuts, often with many layers of color, making each print a unique work of art.
Evon was born in Alaska and works full-time in her studio in the tall trees
of the island community of Ketchikan.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Fancies in Springtime: Mary Austin
“You have to beat out for yourself many mornings on the windy headlands the sense of the fact that you get the same rainbow in the cloud drift over Waban and the spray of your garden hose. And not necessarily then do you live up to it.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Christopher St. Leger
Artist Statement: “A city is the runway for the flight of ambition and the descent into melancholy, a long street pounded by hopes and frustration. It is the dynamic substance I’ve chosen for exploring the subtle behaviors of watercolor. For transforming commonplace into mystery. Because the delicate spilling of watercolor on concrete isn’t a gesture of expressionism — it’s human vulnerability.”