American Art – Part I of VIII: Heather Bennett
In the words of one writer, “‘Four Stories’ is composed of what seems to be a few vignettes, each told through a series of photographs. The image structure suggests familiar narrative tropes where there are actually only symbols. Symbols which form an assumed arrangement, a situation that is easily read and fitted into our reality of images, past and present. Upon closer inspection, however, the story is full of holes. What at first seems obvious, is only hinted and does not carry through. The settings have an artificiality, the time period is hazy and inconsistent and the emotional import is unclear. Something is amiss, slightly outside of the lines. The artist employs storytelling as a tool, claiming the use of pathos, parody, dark humor, desire, all as indicators of a story that doesn’t really exist but to outline the subject, a subject traditionally positioned as an object. The revelation of the embodied female subject is achieved through a kind of denial.
Putting herself in these sexualized stereotypes, Heather Bennett questions the credulity of our simple clichés which are segregated from connection and consideration. The artist’s own image is a structural quotation of past feminist artworks while functioning as another tactic to slyly highlight the subject. She acts not as a self but as a representation of the artist which marks the critical component of the work. Her presence doesn’t quite belong, an interloper in a scene we thought we understood. The women in her photographs inhabit ordinary roles, remnants of a time, yet they faintly resist. There is an individuality warped by boundary, seeping through our myopic categorization. That familiar language fails to sum them up. In defiance of their limited place, they subtly direct the scene; wriggling under mythical constraints, veiling truth, but still asking us to believe them.”
A Poem for Today
By Al Zolynas
After years by the ocean
a man finds he learns to sail
in the middle of the country,
on the surface of a small lake with a woman’s name
in a small boat with one sail.
All summer he skims back and forth
across the open, blue eye of the midwest.
The wind comes in from the northeast
most days and the man learns
how to seem to go against it, learns
of the natural always crouched
in the shadow of the unnatural.
Sometimes the wind stops
and the man is becalmed–
just like the old traders who sat for days
in the doldrums on the thin skin of the ocean,
nursing their scurvys
and grumbling over short grog rations.
And the man learns a certain language:
he watches the luff, beats windward, comes
hard-about, finally gets
port and starboard straight.
All summer, between the soft, silt bottom
and the blue sheath of the sky, he glides
back and forth across the modest lake
with the woman’s name.
And at night
he dreams of infinite flat surfaces,
of flying at incredible speed,
one hand on the tiller, one on the mainsheet, leaning
far out over the sparkling surface, the sail
a transparent membrane, the wind
with its silent howl, a force
moving him from his own heart.
Reflections in Summer: Albert Schweitzer
From the Music Archives – Part I of III: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
25 July 1788 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completes his Symphony No. 40 in G minor.
American Art – Part II of VIII: Ellen Eagle
Artist Statement: “I paint portraits in pastel. My portraits evolve slowly, during a series of sittings. I don’t like to talk much when I work. I like my model to almost forget I am there. Inevitably, during the course of the sittings as the model drifts deeper into his or her own thoughts, he or she experiences deeply felt emotions. And though I respond to the body’s genuine expression of those emotions, I am aware that he or she is engaged in private thoughts to which I am not privy.
I strive to express my response through acute observation. Fidelity to my subject’s particular qualities is very important to me. Of course, I see through the filter of my own temperament.
I always work in natural light. The most exquisite expression of light I have seen is in the radiance of flesh. The timeless and fleeting human subject as seen in the eternal and ever-changing natural light.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
From the Music Archives – Part II of III: Jim McCarty
Born 25 July 1943 – Jim McCarty, an English musician best known as the drummer for the Yardbirds and Renaissance.
Here is part of the Artist Statement of Argentinean painter Marco Ortolan: “A painting must be universal, otherwise it would be very monotone. Venice and the female figure captivate me completely and, luckily, both have had a good reception with the public and collectors.”
Reflections in Summer: William Faulkner
From the Music Archives – Part III of III: The Beatles
25 July 1964 – The Beatles’ album “A Hard Day’s Night” reaches the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains there for fourteen weeks.
American Art – Part III of VIII: Alexander Rummler
Born 25 July 1867 – Alexander Rummler, an American artist best known for painting murals for the Works Project Administration.
“Lack of education is an extraordinary handicap when one is being offensive.” – Josephine Tey, Scottish writer best known for her mystery novels and author of “The Daughter of Time,” who was born 25 July 1896.
Some quotes from the work of Josephine Tey:
“It’s an odd thing but when you tell someone the true facts of a mythical tale they are indignant not with the teller but with you. They don’t want to have their ideas upset. It rouses some vague uneasiness in them, I think, and they resent it. So they reject it and refuse to think about it. If they were merely indifferent it would be natural and understandable. But it is much stronger than that, much more positive. They are annoyed.
Very odd, isn’t it.”
“If you think about the unthinkable long enough it becomes quite reasonable.”
“He knew by heart every last minute crack on its surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it. He hated the sight of it.”
“The light died on the window-sill as the last survivor of a charge dies on the enemy parapet, murdered but glorious.”
“One would expect boredom to be a great yawning emotion, but it isn’t, of course. It’s a small niggling thing.”
“That is why historians surprise me. They seem to have no talent for the likeliness of any situation. They see history like a peepshow; with two-dimensional figures against a distant background.”
“She would go away deep into the green and white and yellow countryside, and smell the may and lie in the grass and feel the world turning on its axis, and remember that it was a very large world, and that College griefs were mild and bitter but soon over and that in the Scale of Things they were undeniably Very Small Beer.”
“She put her cup down and sighed again with pleasure. ‘I can’t think how the Nonconformists have failed to discover coffee.’
‘Yes. As a snare. It does far more for one than drink. And yet no one preaches about it, or signs pledges about it. Five mouthfuls and the world looks rosy.’”
“The truth of anything at all doesn’t lie in someone’s account of it. It lies in all the small facts of the time. An advertisement in a paper, the sale of a house, the price of a ring.”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Chinese painter Zhang Zhenggang: “Zhang was born in Shanghai (in 1953). He attended the Refresher Course of Lecturers of Oil Painting Department at Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1982. He graduated from the Fine Arts Department of Art College of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 1987. Now he is a painter of Shanghai Oil Painting and Sculpture Institute, member of Chinese Artist’s Association, director of Chinese Oil Painting Association. His work has won the Silver Award in the 2nd National Art Exhibition of Young Artists in 1980. He has won the Excellence Prize in Military Subject Art Exhibition in 1986 as well as the Merit Prize in 60th Anniversary of Chinese Army: National Art Exhibition in 1987. In 1989, he won the Bronze Award in the 7th National Art Exhibition. In 1992, he won the Award of Creative Work in Shanghai Art Exhibition. And in 1994, he was awarded with the Chinese Oil Painting Art Prize in the 2nd Chinese Annual Oil Painting Exhibition. For many years, he has won numerous prizes and his works are collected in the National Art Museum of China.”
Reflections in Summer: Brielle A. Marino
“After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that is all you know words not their feelings or what they mean and you write because you know them not because you understand them because you don’t you are stupid and lazy and will never be great but you do what you know because what else is there?” – Frank O’Hara, American poet, writer, and art critic, who died 25 July 1966.
Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about
A Second Poem for Today
By Katie Ford
Down by the pond, addicts sleep
on rocky grass half in water, half out,
and there the moon lights them
out of tawny silhouettes into the rarest
of amphibious flowers I once heard called ‘striders,’
between, but needing, two worlds.
Of what can you accuse them now,
“There are countless artists whose shoes I am not worthy to polish – whose prints would not pay the printer. The question of judgment is a puzzling one.” – Maxfield Parrish, an American painter and illustrator, who was born 25 July 1870.
“Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.” – Eric Hoffer, American longshoreman, moral and social philosopher, and author of “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements,” who was born 25 July 1902.
Some quotes from the work of Eric Hoffer:
“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy – the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.”
“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”
“We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.”
“We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities but its own talents.”
“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”
“People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.”
“When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.”
“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”
“It is the individual only who is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations — past and present — are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual’s hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millennia.”
“Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.”
“Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.”
“Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.”
“It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.”
“Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.”
“The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.”
“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.”
“To be fully alive is to feel that everything is possible.”
“It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence. We cannot win the weak by sharing our wealth with them. They feel our generosity as oppression.”
“You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.”
“The greatest weariness comes from work not done.”
“Man staggers through life yapped at by his reason, pulled and shoved by his appetites, whispered to by fears, beckoned by hopes. Small wonder that what he craves most is self-forgetting.”
“Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”
“A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”
“An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“The word agriculture, after all, does not mean ‘agriscience,’ much less ‘agribusiness.’ It means ‘cultivation of land.’ And cultivation is at the root of the sense both of culture and of cult. The ideas of tillage and worship are thus joined in culture. And these words all come from an Indo-European root meaning both ‘to revolve’ and ‘to dwell.’ To live, to survive on the earth, to care for the soil, and to worship, all are bound at the root to the idea of a cycle. It is only by understanding the cultural complexity and largeness of the concept of agriculture that we can see the threatening diminishments implied by the term ‘agribusiness.’”
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Australian painter Melissa Hartley: “Melissa Hartley is an artist, graphic designer, cat lover, tea drinker, Francophile, movie and music lover with a terrible sweet tooth. She graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a BA (Distinction) in design, minor in illustration.
Her compositions vary from simple still-life studies, to confrontation figures against undefined backgrounds, in a dream-like state. Others highlight the turbulent relationship man has with nature. Each subject is attractive yet somehow disturbing.
She desires to create images of beauty and mystery that allow the viewer to find their own personal significance in them.
She lives in Sydney with her husband and two cats, Ludwig and Wolfgang.”
“When the war ended, I don’t know if I was more relieved that we’d won or that I didn’t have to go back. Passchendaele was a disastrous battle and thousands and thousands of young lives were lost. It makes me angry. Earlier this year, I went back to Ypres to shake the hand of Herr Kuentz, Germany’s only surviving veteran from the war. It was emotional. He is 107. We’ve had 87 years to think what war is. To me, it’s a license to go out and murder. Why should the British government call me up and take me out to a battlefield to shoot a man I never knew, whose language I couldn’t speak? All those lives lost for a war finished over a table. Now what is the sense in that?” – Harry Patch, former British soldier and the last surviving combatant to have fought in the trenches of the First World War, who died on 25 July 2009, at age 111 years, 38 days.
A Third Poem for Today
“Rooted and Waverring”
By Al Zolynas
The seed I planted
has sprung into a sunflower
taller than myself.
We stand in the morning light
facing each other.
I am between
the sun and the sunflower.
Already the large head
is home for bejeweled insects and mites
whose names I’ll never learn.
A small breeze comes by
and the yellow head
nods a few times on its springy stalk.
Yes, yes it says.
The breeze pivots above the garden,
swirls away part of the morning.
No, no says the sunflower.
American Art – Part V of VIII: Rob Zeller
American painter Rob Zeller was born and grew up in New Orleans, and although he has resided in New York City for thirteen years, the surrealistic and baroque quality of his birthplace permeates his art. In the words of one critic, Zeller’s aesthetic philosophy is to employ “traditional techniques with the flexibility to be creative and engage contemporary culture.”
“No mind is thoroughly well-organized that is deficient in a sense of humor.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet, literary critic, philosopher, and, with William Wordsworth, founder of the Romantic Movement in England, who died 25 July 1834.
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Reflections in Summer: Paul F. Kortepeter
“Iced tea! Nothing is half so refreshing as a glass of black tea piled high with ice! More than a quencher of thirst, it is a tamer of tempers, a lifter of lethargy, and a brightener of smiles. It is a taste of Winter’s chill, magically trapped in midsummer’s glass.”
American Art – Part VI of VIII: Edward Minoff
In the words of one writer, “Edward Minoff (born 1972) graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts in New York and, after starting his own animation company, joined the Water Street Atelier and later journeyed to The Florence Academy of Art in Italy. He is an artist with serious and dedicated interests sure to succeed in his painting career. His subjects range far and wide, including still lifes, figures, landscapes and drawings. In addition to these genres, Minoff has also produced a number of breathtaking seascapes.”
Nobel Laureate: Elias Canetti
“All things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams.” – Elias Canetti, Bulgarian-born Swiss and British novelist, playwright, memoirist, essayist, and recipient of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature “for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas, and artistic power,” who was born 25 July 1905.
Some quotes from the work of Elias Canetti:
“Whenever you observe an animal closely, you feel as if a human being sitting inside were making fun of you.”
“There are books, that one has for twenty years without reading them, that one always keeps at hand, that one takes along from city to city, from country to country, carefully packed, even when there is very little room, and perhaps one leafs through them while removing them from a trunk; yet one carefully refrains from reading even a complete sentence. Then after twenty years, there comes a moment when suddenly, as though under a high compulsion, one cannot help taking in such a book from beginning to end, at one sitting: it is like a revelation. Now one knows why one made such a fuss about it. It had to be with one for a long time; it had to travel; it had to occupy space; it had to be a burden; and now it has reached the goal of its voyage, now it reveals itself, now it illuminates the twenty bygone years it mutely lived with one. It could not say so much if it had not been there mutely the whole time, and what idiot would dare to assert that the same things had always been in it.”
“I cannot become modest; too many things burn in me; the old solutions are falling apart; nothing has been done yet with the new ones. So I begin, everywhere at once, as if I had a century ahead of me.”
“Most religions do not make men better, only warier.”
“Travelling, one accepts everything; indignation stays at home. One looks, one listens, one is roused to enthusiasm by the most dreadful things because they are new. Good travellers are heartless.”
“It is always the enemy who started it, even if he was not the first to speak out, he was certainly planning it; and if he was not actually planning it, he was thinking of it; and, if he was not thinking of it, he would have thought of it.”
“A head full of stars, just not in constellation yet.”
“The act of naming is the great and solemn consolation of mankind.”
Reflections in Summer: Kenneth Grahame
American Art – Part VII of VIII: Paul Stone
Artist Statement: “My surroundings, my experience and my respect for the world as it is… these are the things from which I gain my subjects and drive my inspirations. My paintings carry with them no messages; they are complete unto themselves and speak for themselves. Beyond this, they may be said to reflect a human presence in nature.
I try to respond to the weight of character with which events have endowed the places that I paint.
Sometimes the people give me clues, sometimes the structures do and sometimes the spirit of the place speaks.”
Reflections in Summer: J.R.R. Tolkien
“A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of laughter more terrible than any sadness-a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.” – From “White Fang,” by Jack London
25 July 1897 – Jack London sets sail on the SS Umatilla to join the Klondike Gold Rush, from where he would write his first successful stories.
Some quotes from the work of Jack London:
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.”
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
“There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.
This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad in a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.”
“But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.”
“He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time.”
Reflections in Summer: Theodore Roosevelt
“A year later I was at a desolate little mud road ranch on the Deadwood trail. It was kept by a very capable and very forceful woman, with sound ideas of justice and abundantly well able to hold her own. Her husband was a worthless devil, who finally got drunk on some whisky he obtained from an outfit of Missouri bull-whackers—that is, freighters, driving ox wagons. Under the stimulus of the whisky he picked a quarrel with his wife and attempted to beat her. She knocked him down with a stove-lid lifter, and the admiring bull-whackers bore him off, leaving the lady in full possession of the ranch.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Nathalie Parenteau
In the words of one writer, “Nathalie Parenteau lives and works in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“We do not need to plan or devise a ‘world of the future’; if we take care of the world of the present, the future will have received full justice from us. A good future is implicit in the soils, forests, grasslands, marshes, deserts, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans that we have now, and in the good things of human culture that we have now; the only valid ‘futurology’ available to us is to take care of those things. We have no need to contrive and dabble at ‘the future of the human race’; we have the same pressing need that we have always had – to love, care for, and teach our children.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Song of Quietness”
By Robinson Jeffers
Drink deep, drink deep of quietness,
And on the margins of the sea
Remember not thine old distress
Nor all the miseries to be.
Calmer than mists, and cold
As they, that fold on fold
Up the dim valley are rolled,
Learn thou to be.
The Past—it was a feverish dream,
A drunken slumber full of tears.
The Future—O what wild wings gleam,
Wheeled in the van of desperate years!
Thou lovedst the evening: dawn
Glimmers; the night is gone:—
What dangers lure thee on,
What dreams more fierce?
But meanwhile, now the east is gray,
The hour is pale, the cocks yet dumb,
Be glad before the birth of day,
Take thy brief rest ere morning come:
Here in the beautiful woods
All night the sea-mist floods,—
Thy last of solitudes,
Thy yearlong home.
American Art – Part VIII of VIII: Douglass Freed
In the words of one writer, “The landscapes of Douglass Freed can seldom be contained to one canvas. His minimalistic and almost ambiguous images of horizons, clouds, and bodies of water pour onto adjoining spaces where their forms shift in color and light as if they have transformed into entirely different pieces, but they remain undeniably suited to one another. While his pieces vary from quiet, monochromatic works to fully orchestrated chromatic ones, in either sense, he creates places that simultaneously imply reality and a dreamlike, even spiritual, serenity that captures and holds onto the viewer’s gaze, creating an experience that few can. Through his harmonious use of blended color, texture, and structure, Freed finds the grey area between traditional landscape painting and its abstraction into color fields.”