American Art – Part I of IV: Denise Mickilowski
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Carly Simon
Born 25 June 1945 – Carly Simon, an American singer-songwriter and musician.
Reflections in Summer: Theodore Roosevelt
“[We] all need more than anything else to know human nature, to know the needs of the human soul; and they will find this nature and these needs set forth as nowhere else by the great imaginative writers, whether of prose or of poetry.”
Born 25 June 1932 – Peter Blake, an English pop artist who is best known for co-creating the sleeve design for the Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
A Poem for Today
By John Morgan
for Jon and Bodi Anderson
Climbing the ridge among cactus
we watch the gritty town and gumball
tourist cars. A man in that jail
for a buck will give you a thrill,
lurching from his cell
with a drawn gun and a scowl.
But my friend’s young son, afraid
of this tilted ground — timid lamb —
holds out his stricken hands
and shakes. Remember, Jon,
that long unsettled night
five years ago: we drank and talked —
what’s friendship for? To move
beyond the self. I felt
you were a dying man. At four a.m.
through empty streets I drove you home,
and by the curb you held me hard
and cried; unblessed by bourbon
knowing that it was too late
for sleep. Now it’s your sweet
blond diabetic son moves me
toward tears, his frail-boned beauty
like another of your heart-wrung
poems, blood on a dusty street
Reflections in Summer: Tove Jansson
“Sophia and Grandmother sat down by the shore to discuss the matter further. It was a pretty day, and the sea was running a long, windless swell. It was on days just like this–dog days–that boats went sailing off all by themselves. Large, alien objects made their way in from sea, certain things sank and others rose, milk soured, and dragonflies danced in desperation. Lizards were not afraid. When the moon came up, red spiders mated on uninhabited skerries, where the rock became an unbroken carpet of tiny, ecstatic spiders.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Clint Warwick
Born 25 June 1940 – Clint Warwick (born Albert Eccles), the original bassist for The Moody Blues.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“It might seem to you that living in the woods on a riverbank would remove you from the modern world. But not if the river is navigable, as ours is. On pretty weekends in the summer, this riverbank is the very verge of the modern world. It is a seat in the front row, you might say. On those weekends, the river is disquieted from morning to night by people resting from their work.
This resting involves traveling at great speed, first on the road and then on the river. The people are in an emergency to relax. They long for the peace and quiet of the great outdoors. Their eyes are hungry for the scenes of nature. They go very fast in their boats. They stir the river like a spoon in a cup of coffee. They play their radios loud enough to hear above the noise of their motors. They look neither left nor right. They don’t slow down for – or maybe even see – an old man in a rowboat raising his lines…
I watch and I wonder and I think. I think of the old slavery, and of the way The Economy has now improved upon it. The new slavery has improved upon the old by giving the new slaves the illusion that they are free. The Economy does not take people’s freedom by force, which would be against its principles, for it is very humane. It buys their freedom, pays for it, and then persuades its money back again with shoddy goods and the promise of freedom.”
American Art – Part II of IV:
“Of course, it is well to go abroad and see the works of the old masters, but Americans must strike out for themselves, and only by doing this will we create a great and distinctly American art.” – Thomas Eakins, an American realist painter, photographer, and sculptor, who died 25 June 1916.
Below – “Max Schmitt in a Single Scull”; “William Rush Carving His Allegorical Figure of the Schuylkill River”; “The Gross Clinic”; “Miss Amelia Van Buren”; “Sailing”; “Portrait of Maude Cook”; “The Swimming Hole”; “Self-Portrait.”
A Second Poem for Today
“The Moving Out”
By John Morgan
After sunset when the grieving
move further into their grief
and the stars are revealed by their master, the darkness,
I have left the cities of the blind
along tracks straight and cold as the north.
Here I sit listening on the shore
of a white and glacial distance.
The voice of a girl like an opening flower
begins to curl forth from the inner shell of the mind.
So many nights I have waited.
In cities the darkness gobbled me up and spat me out,
my fears scuttled back and forth outside the door.
Now the first birds waken and peck among fresh snow.
The light begins to open
with a pink and icy whisper along her cheek.
Reflections in Summer: Herman Wouk
“The West Indian is not exactly hostile to change, but he is not much inclined to believe in it. This comes from a piece of wisdom that his climate of eternal summer teaches him. It is that, under all the parade of human effort and noise, today is like yesterday, and tomorrow will be like today; that existence is a wheel of recurring patterns from which no one escapes; that all anybody does in this life is live for a while and then die for good, without finding out much; and that therefore the idea is to take things easy and enjoy the passing time under the sun. The white people charging hopefully around the islands these days in the noon glare, making deals, bulldozing airstrips, hammering up hotels, laying out marinas, opening new banks, night clubs, and gift shops, are to him merely a passing plague. They have come before and gone before.”
Died 25 June 1882 – Francois Jouffroy, a French sculptor.
Reflections in Summer: Katherine Hall Page
“My room was in one of those turrets and at night I could hear the sea and the faint rustle of eelgrass in the soft wind. The weather was perfect that summer. No storms. Blue skies and just the right amount of wind every day. The sailors were in heaven.”
“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair), English novelist, essayist, critic, journalist, and author of “Animal Farm” and “1984,” who was born 25 June 1903.
Some quotes from the work of George Orwell:
“The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
“The best books… are those that tell you what you know already.”
“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
“On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.”
“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”
Reflections in Summer: Steven Pressfield
Reflections in Summer: Dorothy Maywood Bird
“This couldn’t be just a lake. No real water was ever blue like that. A light breeze stirred the pin-cherry tree beside the window, ruffled the feathers of a fat sea gull promenading on the pink rocks below. The breeze was full of evergreen spice.”
A Third Poem for Today
“For Your Table”
By Philip Paradis
Today I have walked fields
and trails looking for flowers.
They reminded me
of your enjoyment
when I’d bring you
the blossom of the day.
No matter what — brown-eyed Susans,
a wild iris, daisies —
always you were pleased.
Today I noticed tiny violets
and spring flowers I don’t know
the names of, so I’ll call them
shyest girl in the class,
little one in blue,
blushing bride of the valley,
belle of the mountain,
lady of the dell.
And one I’ll call snow flakes
in her hair. They
remind me of
when we first met.
They remind me of you
as you were when I last saw you.
They remind me of when you were a girl
and I didn’t know you.
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“For this is the last best gift that the kindly demi-god is careful to bestow on those to whom he has revealed himself in their helping: the gift of forgetfulness. Lest the awful remembrance should remain and grow, and overshadow mirth and pleasure, and the great haunting memory should spoil all the after-lives of little animals helped out of difficulties, in order that they should be happy and lighthearted as before.”
Below – An illustration from “The Wind in the Willows.”
American Art – Part III of IV: James Torlakson
Artist Statement: “The realism in my work is oriented toward the sensuous consumption and reinterpretation of the world I see. I am not interested in how closely I can mimic physical images in paint, but rather in how I can change and distort them to suit my personal aesthetic. When I paint an image, I break it down in my mind and put it back together in the second dimension as if it were a puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle are the compositional elements of shape, texture, light, value, hue, line, etc. If the elements are assembled harmoniously, the painting will function well as both an abstract composition and a realistic image.
I am best known for my photo-based realism, though working from life is still an active part of my creative process. My imagery has centered on ‘everyday’ America; shifting over the years from trucks, to railways, to amusement parks, to waterfronts, to fireworks booths, to deserted drive-in theatres, to coastal landscapes. Through these shifts in subject matter, related architecture has been a steadily repeated motif.”
Reflections in Summer: Junot Diaz
From the American History Archives: The Battle of the Little Bighorn
25 June 1876 – In the words of one historian, “The Battle of the Little Bighorn, commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes, against the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle, which occurred June 25–26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, was the most prominent action of the Great Sioux War of 1876. It was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho, led by several major war leaders, including Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, inspired by the visions of Sitting Bull. The U.S. 7th Cavalry, including the Custer Battalion, a force of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the 7th Cavalry’s twelve companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. The total U.S. casualty count, including scouts, was 268 dead and 55 injured.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.
How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Stephanie Ryan (Part I)
Stephanie Ryan is a painter who lives and works in the Yukon Territory.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Below – “Approaching the Scales, Chilkoot Trail”; “Atlin River Homestead”; “Bear Creek, Mount Lome”; “Ben My Chree Gardens”; “Blueberries on Long Hill, Chilkoot Trail, Alaska”; “Boatbuilders, Bennett Lake.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“The river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Ben Steele
In the words of one writer, “Steele considers himself to often be on the outside of the Art World looking in. Rather than fitting any specific movement, he’s best described as an Art Chameleon, using his work to comment on the history of art as a whole. To do so, he incorporates many different processes of painting and isn’t tied down by any one style.
However, with an education built upon classical training, he enjoys utilizing the techniques and processes of the old masters with a contemporary sensibility. What results is a paradoxical reverence for art with playful and sometimes pointed commentary.”