American Art – Part I of V: Whitney A. Heavey
Artist Statement: “My paintings are a celebration of the ever-changing colors in the New England landscape. Using the framework of a landscape composition, I strive to paint with a rhythm which results in layers of color until the surface has a buzz that makes the landscape come alive. I like to experiment with the boundaries of color. The palette of my paintings usually begins as a mood, or a reflection of something I’ve seen, and evolves with the process of painting. My paintings are intended to have a powerful impact on the viewer, both from afar and close up, just as nature does.”
“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard, American journalist, writer, editor, and author of “Margaret Mead: A Life,” who died 27 June 1996.
Another quote from the work of Jane Howard: “What we all have discovered together, only rarely in classrooms, is that the passage of years guarantees very little in the way of answers, that ambivalence and ambiguity will follow us all the days of our lives, but that words and wit and woods and food and music will endure as sources of comfort.
We have learned that surprises exhilarate, if they don’t barrage us too fast, and that the quest for the proper balances between stillness and motion, restraint and excess, sound and silence, will continue, and that too much freedom—a life too much at large…can feel at least as constricting as too little. We have learned, maybe most importantly of all, to cherish the company of those who can make us laugh, who can forgive us our shortcomings, who can restore to us or evoke in us a feeling of purpose in the face of absurdity.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“A crowd whose discontent has risen no higher than the level of slogans is only a crowd. But a crowd that understands the reasons for its discontent and knows the remedies is a vital community, and it will have to be reckoned with. I would rather go before the government with two people who have a competent understanding of an issue, and who therefore deserve a hearing, than with two thousand who are vaguely dissatisfied.
But even the most articulate public protest is not enough. We don’t live in the government or in institutions or in our public utterances and acts, and the environmental crisis has its roots in our lives. By the same token, environmental health will also be rooted in our lives. That is, I take it, simply a fact, and in the light of it we can see how superficial and foolish we would be to think that we could correct what is wrong merely by tinkering with the institutional machinery. The changes that are required are fundamental changes in the way we are living.”
Italian Art – Part I of II: Giorgio Vasari
Died 27 June 1574 – Giorgio Vasari, an Italian architect, painter, and writer.
“Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past, so that the image of the dream house is opposed to that of the childhood home. Late in life, with indomitable courage, we continue to say that we are going to do what we have not yet done: we are going to build a house. This dream house may be merely a dream of ownership, the embodiment of everything that is considered convenient, comfortable, healthy, sound, desirable, by other people. It must therefore satisfy both pride and reason, two irreconcilable terms. . . Maybe it is a good thing for us to keep a few dreams of a house that we shall live in later, always later, so much later, in fact, that we shall not have time to achieve it. For a house that was final, one that stood in symmetrical relation to the house we were born in, would lead to thoughts—serious, sad thoughts—and not to dreams. It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.” – Gaston Bachelard, French philosopher and author of “The Poetics of Space” and “The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood Language and the Cosmos,” who was born 27 June 1884.
Some quotes from the work of Gaston Bachelard:
“So, like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.”
“To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.”
“If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”
“When the image is new, the world is new.”
“Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams. A psychoanalyst should, therefore, turn his attention to this simple localization of our memories. I should like to give the name of topoanalysis to this auxiliary of psychoanalysis. Topoanalysis, then, would be the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.”
“The repose of sleep refreshes only the body. It rarely sets the soul at rest. The repose of the night does not belong to us. It is not the possession of our being. Sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms. In the morning we must sweep out the shadows.”
“Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event.”
“One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it.”
“Man is a creation of desire, not a creation of need.”
“The characteristic of scientific progress is our knowing that we did not know.”
“The great function of poetry is to give back to us the situations of our dreams.”
Italian Art – Part II of II: Licio Passon
Here is one writer describing the artistry of painter Licio Passon: “It is said that in the early ages, travelers from all over the world would visit Venice. When they left, a popular memento would be the purchase of a very realistic painting. The idea was to bring the city home with them. Paintings were created as exact replicas of the various canals of Venice.
Licio Passon, born in Udine, Italy, in 1965, paints in this realistic manner. To comprehend his artistic work, you can’t neglect his belonging to his homeland of the Friuli region and the rustic life, the hardship of the fields that he experienced as a child. Watching him work today in his studio in Campoformido, Italy, you can still feel this complete dedication, his attention, ability and taste for color.”
Reflections in Summer: Sanober Khan
A Poem for Today
“A Word to Husbands”
By Ogden Nash
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
American Art – Part II of V: Eric Angeloch
Artist Statement: ““I take walks in all kinds of weather, absorb what I can and let it settle.”
Reflections in Summer: Kahlil Gibran
“In the summer heat the reapers say, ‘We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.’”
“A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” – Shelby Foote, American historian, novelist, and author of the three-volume “The Civil War: A Narrative,” who died 27 June 2005.
Some quotes from the work of Shelby Foote:
“The point I would make is that the novelist and the historian are seeking the same thing: the truth – not a different truth: the same truth – only they reach it, or try to reach it, by different routes. Whether the event took place in a world now gone to dust, preserved by documents and evaluated by scholarship, or in the imagination, preserved by memory and distilled by the creative process, they both want to tell us how it was: to re-create it, by their separate methods, and make it live again in the world around them.”
“They took it for more than it was, or anyhow for more than it said; the container was greater than the thing contained, and Lincoln became at once what he would remain for them, ‘the man who freed the slaves.’ He would go down to posterity, not primarily as the Preserver of the Republic-which he was-but as the Great Emancipator, which he was not.”
“I can’t begin to tell you the things I discovered while I was looking for something else.”
“I think making mistakes and discovering them for yourself is of great value, but to have someone else to point out your mistakes is a shortcut of the process.”
“North was only a direction indicated by a compass–if a man had one, that is, for otherwise there was no north or south or east or west; there was only the brooding desolation.”
“Generally the first week in September brings the hottest weather of the year, and this was no exception. Overhead the fans turned slow, their paddle blades stirring the air up close to the ceiling but nowhere else.”
“The Civil War defined us as what we are and it opened us to being what we became, good and bad things… It was the crossroads of our being, and it was a hell of a crossroads.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“Once beyond the village, where the cottages ceased abruptly, on either side of the road they could smell through the darkness the friendly fields again; and they braced themselves for the last long stretch, the home stretch, the stretch that we know is bound to end, some time, in the rattle of the door-latch, the sudden firelight, and the sight of familiar things greeting us as long-absent travelers from far oversea.”
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Scottish quilting artist Penny Sistro: “The images, the beings on my work haunt and whisper to me as I make them live. I learn sometimes things that only they can tell, as I sew the edges of their world. Some of the collectors who take them home with them tell me that they catch echoes, see the compassion in their quilted eyes, feel the warmth of their spirit…that is the fabric-world’s gift to me and mine to you, the people who look at my pieces.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“The Shadow-maker shapes forever.” – Lafcadio Hearn, American journalist and author, who was born 27 June 1850.
While Hearn is best known for his books about Japan (written under his Japanese name Koizumi Yakumo), he also wrote extensively about New Orleans (“Inventing New Orleans”), based on his ten-year stay in that city. Nonetheless, his Japanese ghost stories are his greatest achievement, and four of his most impressive supernatural tales were brought to the screen in “Kwaidan” (1965), directed by Kobayashi Masaki.
Some quotes from the work of Lafcadio Hearn:
“Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become a study for archaeologists…but it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.”
“There is scarcely any great author in European literature, old or new, who has not distinguished himself in his treatment of the supernatural. In English literature, I believe there is no exception from the time of the Anglo-Saxon poets to Shakespeare, and from Shakespeare to our own day. And this introduces us to the consideration of a general and remarkable fact, a fact that I do not remember to have seen in any books, but which is of very great philosophical importance: there is something ghostly in all great art, whether of literature, music, sculpture, or architecture. It touches something within us that relates to infinity.”
“The tea ceremony requires years of training and practice … yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible.”
“It may remain for us to learn… that our task is only beginning; and that there will never be given to us even the ghost of any help, save the help of unutterable unthinkable Time. We may have to learn that the infinite whirl of death and birth, out of which we cannot escape, is of our own creation, of our own seeking–that the forces integrating worlds are the errors of the Past–that the eternal sorrow is but the eternal hunger of insatiable desire–and that the burnt-out suns are rekindled only by the inextinguishable passions of vanished lives.”
“On the Gulf side of these islands you may observe that the trees—where there are any trees—all bend away from the sea; and, even of bright, hot days when the wind sleeps, there is something grotesquely pathetic in their look of agonized terror. A group of oaks . . . I remember as especially suggestive: five stooping silhouettes in line against the horizon, like fleeing women with streaming garments and wind-blown hair—bowing grievously and thrusting out arms desperately northward as to save themselves from falling. And they are being pursued indeed—for the sea is devouring the land.”
“We owe more to our illusions than to our knowledge.”
“But I confess that ‘my mind to me a kingdom is’–not! Rather it is a fantastical republic, daily troubled by more revolutions than ever occurred in South America.”
“Perhaps, after trillions of ages burning in different dynasties of suns, the very best of me may come together again.”
Below – Lafcadio Hearn in 1889; Koizumi Yakumo with his wife Koizumi Setsu; “Kwaidan”; a poster for the movie version of “Kwaidan”; a still shot from “The Woman of the Snow” episode in the movie; a still shot from the “”Hoichi the Earless” episode in the movie.
Reflections in Summer: Edgar Degas
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
From the Music Archives: John Entwistle
“For 15 years, we always thought we would last as long as our last record contract.” – John Entwistle, English musician, songwriter, singer, and film and music producer best known as the bass guitarist for The Who, who died 27 June 2002.
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“Nature’s Grand Hotel has its Season, like the others. As the guests one by one pack, pay, and depart, and the seats at the table-d’hote shrink pitifully at each succeeding meal; as suites of rooms are closed, carpets taken up, and waiters sent away; those boarders who are staying on, en pension, until the next year’s full re-opening, cannot help being somewhat affected by all these flittings and farewells, this eager discussion of plans, routes, and fresh quarters, this daily shrinkage in the stream of comradeship.”
A Second Poem for Today
“The Life of the Mind”
By William Greenway
“My, my. A body does get around.”
The summer Del
Shannon had a hit with “Runaway”
I was failing algebra, and my
grandfather told the story about slugging
his English teacher, jumping out
the window to run away and work
for the railroad, and eventually have mother
who had me.
Clark Goswick and I, on the last
day of school, before report cards
came in the mail, left
for Daytona Beach
to work on fishing boats and marry
Cuban girls, but a cop caught us
after only two miles and four hours.
As we walked up the driveway, bleeding, our backpacks
solid with canned beans and bristling with fishing
rods, mother called from the porch
“Did they let school out early?”
When I fall across my desk
“The Road Not Taken” for the thousandth time
an old salt on a dock somewhere
in Florida will be splicing
rope and telling yarns
to the dark children
“Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.” – “In the Mountains on a Summer Day,” by Li Po, translated by Arthur Waley, English orientalist, sinologist, and translator, who died 27 June 1966.
In the words of one historian, “Waley was the great transmitter of the high literary cultures of China and Japan to the English-reading general public; the ambassador from East to West in the first half of the 20th century. He was self-taught, but reached remarkable levels of fluency, even erudition, in both languages. It was a unique achievement, possible (as he himself later noted) only in that time, and unlikely to be repeated.”
American Art – Part III of V: Sharon Sprung
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Sharon Sprung (born 1953): “Sprung’s work is at once beautiful and quietly powerful. Seeing her paintings in reproduction doesn’t give you the true feel of her technique. The surfaces are actually quite tactile, which owes to the fact that she paints a good deal of each work with a palette knife. Not in the usual way palette knife painting is thought of, in fact she has developed a more nuanced approach which initially seems like pulling a brush with paint over a layer which has yet to fully dry. When done in the opaque areas, this enhances the flesh tones by catching more light and reflecting it back to the viewer.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
“The rich meadow-grass seemed that morning of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable. Never had they noticed the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous, the meadow-sweet so odorous and pervading.”
From the Television Archives: “Captain Video and His Video Rangers”
27 June 1949 – “Captain Video and His Video Rangers” debuts on DuMont-TV. In the words of one writer, “The series aired between June 27, 1949 and April 1, 1955, originally Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, and then Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET. A separate 30-minute spinoff series, ‘The Secret Files of Captain Video,’ aired Saturday mornings, alternating with ‘Tom Corbett, Space Cadet,’ from September 5, 1953 to May 29, 1954 for a total of 20 episodes.
Set in the distant future, the series followed the adventures of a group of fighters for truth and justice, the Video Rangers, led by Captain Video. The Rangers operated from a secret base on a mountain top. Their uniforms resembled United States Army surplus with lightning bolts sewn on.
The Captain had a teen-age companion who was known only as the Video Ranger. Captain Video received his orders from the Commissioner of Public Safety, whose responsibilities took in the entire solar system as well as human colonies on planets around other stars. Captain Video was the first adventure hero explicitly designed (by DuMont’s idea-man Larry Menkin) for early live television.”
In the words of one writer, “Alfredo Roldan was born in Madrid in 1965. At the age of 22, having had no formal artistic training, he started drawing professionally, selling his work in street markets, at the same time presenting his work at major competitions, of which he won several. It was on winning the award granted by the City Council of Madrid in 1994 that he was discovered by a major gallery. His winning painting now hangs in the Museum of Modern Art, Madrid. In 1996 he was named a Member of the Senate ‘Honoris Caus’ of the Academy of Modern Art of Rome.”
Reflections in Summer: Robert Engman
“A piece of art is never a finished work. It answers a question which has been asked, and asks a new question.”
“oh antic God”
oh antic God
return to me
my mother in her thirties
leaned across the front porch
the huge pillow of her breasts
pressing against the rail
summoning me in for bed.
I am almost the dead woman’s age times two.
American Art – Part IV of V: Kimberlee C. Alemian
Artist Statement: “Interiors, still life, and particularly the use of plant materials is a reactive point for me. Working from something live or something that will change its form, forces me to focus and paint quickly. If the result is not satisfactory, I turn the canvas and start over, using traces of information left on the support. The painting can change drastically each time it is worked on. The subject is described through negative and positive passages of thick and thin layers of paint and/or related media; charcoal, oil or chalk pastel.
Painting landscape on location, chasing the light or capturing the atmosphere extends the practice of painting quickly—to catch the feeling. Back in the studio, I study what is happening within these works. Sometimes, after weeks or months of looking at them they can suprize me. Certain passages become pronounced and assert themselves.
Imagery cut from newspaper or magazine articles is also entering my work more frequently. The experience of reacting to live situations informs these paintings and the interpretations within layers of imagery and content remain open.
I am drawn to the rawness of the mark and layering of color. It excites me when a plane can be both in front of and behind another plane depending on where you are looking in the painting. My paintings evolve over a period of time and their history can be glimpsed through the construction of them.”
A Third Poem for Today
“In a Used-Books Store”
By Philip Paradis
“Excuse me, but have you seen any poems by Angie Dickinson?” – unidentified patron
Emily, oh Emily.
Let’s write this letter
to the one who confused you;
let’s say you never wrote
poems behind the scenes at Burbank Studio,
never wore a mini, no knee-high leather boots
or fired off a snub-nosed .38 or spat out
the words, “Get back, Jack. Hands
against the wall and spread ’em.”
Let’s tell him to listen hard instead
for a wind like a bugle
or watch for any small movements
among the tall grass giving away
that narrow fellow parting the green blades
as he goes, the common backyard garden variety
still known to haunt barefoot maids
in summer dresses along garden paths
when the yellow squash swell on their vines
and green beans hang like elves’ stockings
growing larger sizes overnight
as if by some natural decree
or prank of some divine pixy
with a grin.
Reflections in Summer: Anthony Trollope
“It was a beautiful summer afternoon, at that delicious period of the year when summer has just burst forth from the growth of spring; when the summer is yet but three days old, and all the various shades of green which nature can put forth are still in their unsoiled purity of freshness.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Stephanie Ryan (Part III)
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 – “High Bush Cranberry, Taku River”; “Klondikers, Bennett Lake”; “Milk River Meets the Snake River, Yukon”; “Moss Campion, Kluane Icefields”; “Mount Archibald”; “Mount Avens Above Kaskawulsh Glacier”; “Mountain Haven.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.”
American Art – Part V of V: Fred Wessel (Part II)
Artist’s Statement: “A two week trip that I took to Italy in 1984, had a profound and prolonged influence on my work. At that time I was involved in making a series of aquarium images. I went to Italy to view the art of the Renaissance, for it is my belief that all visual artists, especially realists, should experience and study this work firsthand. I could not have predicted the dramatic impact, both direct and indirect, that this journey of discovery would have on my ensuing work. I believe that in our search for novelty in post-modernist art making, we often lose touch with certain basics: beauty, grace, harmony and visual poetry are nowadays rarely considered important criteria in evaluating contemporary works of art.
Since the Bauhaus, the term ‘precious’ has had a negative connotation in art schools. It was a term used derisively in the 1960’s to describe work that did not adhere to the fashionably pared down kernels of conceptualism or minimalism.
But after seeing the beauty, sensitivity, harmony—the ‘preciousness’—of Italian Renaissance painting—especially the early Renaissance work of artists such as Fra Angelico, Duccio and Simone Martini—I realize that, as artists, we may have abandoned too much. The ever–changing inner light that radiates from gold leaf used judiciously on the surface of a painting, and the use of pockets of rich, intense colors that illuminate the picture’s surface impressed me deeply. It was ‘preciousness’ elevated to grand heights: semi–precious gems such as lapis lazuli, malachite, azurite, etc., were ground up, mixed with egg yolk and applied as paint pigments, producing dazzling, breathtaking colors! The surface of these colors forms a texture that sparkles and reflects light much like gold does, but in ways that are much more subtle than gold.
I look to the early Renaissance as a source of inspiration that I can use along with contemporary content and image making. I look to the Renaissance as the artists of that time looked back to early Greek and Roman art—not as a reactionary but as one who rediscovers and reapplies important but forgotten visual stimuli.”