American Art – Part I of V: David Kasman
In the words of one writer, “David Kasman is best known for his bronze sculptures as well as his direct observation oil paintings of beaches, Boston and Maine. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Mechanical Engineering. While at Cornell, he studied sculpture with Jonathan Squire and Jim Cole.”
A Poem for Today
By W. S. Merwin
There are threads of old sound heard over and over
phrases of Shakespeare or Mozart the slender
wands of the auroras playing out from them
into dark time the passing of a few
migrants high in the night far from the ancient flocks
far from the rest of the words far from the instruments
From the Music Archives – Part I of II: Franz Liszt
Died 31 July 1886 – Franz Liszt, a Hungarian pianist, composer, conductor, and teacher.
A Second Poem for Today
By David M. Starkey
In the city of Kamakura
not far from the great Buddha
sits three-faced goddess Mercy,
matronly in her temple
above the sea and pines and seas
of TV aerials.
At her feet, thousands
of tiny clay figures draped in scarves
and coats against the cold:
emblems of children
Pushed in the mud,
cracked in two, Might-Have-Beens
crowd the paths ascending
and parents’ prayers, “Thank you
for bearing off the consequence
before it learned
to grow away.”
From an open window
the smell of beef
reminds the latest bereaved couple
that they must eat,
and he thinks of a place downtown
with the music he loves.
Flutes and drums and bells.
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Belgian painter Carl Brenders (born 1937): “The artistic visions of Carl Brenders reflect his respect for nature. His precise and lively paintings capture the extreme realism of the birds, mammals and habitats he depicts. Brenders paints every detail of his wildlife images – feathers, hair, leaves or pine thorns – until, he says, ‘they get into my skin.’
The wildlife images of Brenders’ art are first created from pencil sketches; from these sketches his mixed media paintings of watercolour and gouache are completed with a technique he has developed during the last 25 years. His paintings, which encompass every intricacy of nature, devote equal attention to the detail of the wildlife subject and its habitat as well as to the mood created by the light.
Brenders combines his dreams, his senses, his imagination and his strict attention to anatomical perfection to make his paintings. He says, ‘Nature is already beautiful, already perfect. That is why I paint the way I do with so much detail and so much realism – I want to capture that perfection.’
For long revered and collected by admirers around the world, in September 2002 he was deservedly honoured by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin, USA, as their Master Wildlife Artist, describing it as ‘the high point of my career.’”
Reflections in Summer: William Lyon Phelps
“If there is a technological advance without a social advance, there is, almost automatically, an increase in human misery.” – Michael Harrington, American writer, democratic socialist, political activist, professor of political science, and author of “The Other America: Poverty in the United States,” who died 31 August 1989.
Some quotes from the work of Michael Harrington:
“Clothes make the poor invisible. America has the best-dressed poverty the world has ever known.”
“Life is lived in common, but not in community.”
“People who are much too sensitive to demand of cripples that they run races ask of the poor that they get up and act just like everyone else in the society.”
“That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen.”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“For the sake of ‘job creation,’ in Kentucky, and in other backward states, we have lavished public money on corporations that come in and stay only so long as they can exploit people here more cheaply than elsewhere. The general purpose of the present economy is to exploit, not to foster or conserve.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Footprint on Your Heart,”
By Gary Lenhart
Someone will walk into your life,
Leave a footprint on your heart,
Turn it into a mudroom cluttered
With encrusted boots, children’s mittens,
Where you linger to unwrap
Or ready yourself for rough exits
Into howling gales or onto
Frozen car seats, expulsions
Into the great outdoors where touch
Is muffled, noses glisten,
And breaths stab,
So that when you meet someone
Who is leaving your life
You will be able to wave stiff
Icy mitts and look forward
To an evening in spring
When you can fold winter away
Until your next encounter with
A chill so numbing you strew
The heart’s antechamber
With layers of rural garble.
American Art – Part II of V: Christian Vincent
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Christian Vincent (born 1966): “Vincent’s works are so fascinating because he applies contemporary narrative themes in a film-noir palette. Art critics have compared Vincent’s work to that of Odd Nerdrum in that they both use the same dark, rich tones which accompany underlying social commentary. The difference between Vincent and Nerdrum is that Vincent’s social commentary is more obvious as it portrays his view of American 20th century industry. Each work is contemporary yet non-specific to a certain era. These aspects give Vincent’s paintings a narrative quality and invite the viewer to contemplate and reflect on the depicted scene.”
From the Music Archives – Part II of II: Niccolo Paganini
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Among the Homeless at the Santa Monica Public Library, I Browse”
By David M. Starkey
I want to believe they know
most anything can be patched up,
but that mediocrity is not enough.
Hence, they pursue decades
of obscure study
and publish nothing.
They read maps of the skies
under which they sleep,
and like the stars they are remote.
In the eight-hundred section
a wino lectures me on Whitman.
I sigh and offer
to trade my tie
for his bandanna, my wing tips
for his tattered tennis shoes.
he reads in a scratchy bass
from “Song of the Open Road.”
Neither would be happy.
Neither can be.
That is the point.
American Art – Part III of V: Marion Wachtel
In the words of one historian, “Marion Kavanaugh Wachtel (1875–1954) was a plein air painter in watercolors and oils that lived and worked with her artist husband Elmer Wachtel in the Arroyo Seco near Pasadena, California, in the early 20th century. Her work was valued in her own day, and her works were exhibited across the United States.
Like most of the American Impressionist artists now known as California Impressionists, Wachtel relocated to Southern California after first establishing her career in the eastern US. She trained at the Art Institute of Chicago, and under William Merritt Chase in New York.
Later, she taught in public schools and at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1903 she journeyed to California, where she studied under William Keith, and Elmer Wachtel, whom she married in 1904.
She painted primarily landscapes of the dramatic Californian and Southwestern terrain. Her medium of choice was watercolor, but she began painting in oils after her husband’s death.”
Reflections in Summer: Max Eastman
“As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.” – Eugene Luther Gore Vidal, American public intellectual and writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays, who died 31 July 2012.
Some quotes from the work of Gore Vidal:
“The unfed mind devours itself.”
“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”
“How marvelous books are, crossing worlds and centuries, defeating ignorance and, finally, cruel time itself.”
“Today’s public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can’t read them either.”
“Ayn Rand’s ‘philosophy’ is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society…. To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.”
“Actually, there is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person. The words are adjectives describing sexual acts, not people. The sexual acts are entirely normal; if they were not, no one would perform them.”
“Monotheism is easily the greatest disaster to befall the human race.”
“The idea of a good society is something you do not need a religion and eternal punishment to buttress; you need a religion if you are terrified of death.”
“The American press exists for one purpose only, and that is to convince Americans that they are living in the greatest and most envied country in the history of the world. The Press tells the American people how awful every other country is and how wonderful the United States is and how evil communism is and how happy they should be to have freedom to buy seven different sorts of detergent.”
“I have always regarded as a stroke of good fortune that I was not born or brought up in a small American town; they may be the backbone of the nation, but they are also the backbone of ignorance, bigotry, and boredom, all in vast quantities.”
“As the age of television progresses the Reagans will be the rule, not the exception. To be perfect for television is all a President has to be these days. ”
“We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.”
According to one writer, British painter Christian Furr (born 1966) “became the youngest artist to have ever officially painted Queen Elizabeth II, when in 1995 – at the age of twenty eight – he was invited by the Queen to paint her portrait at Buckingham Palace. The work was commissioned by and hangs at the Royal Overseas League, St James, London.”
Reflections in Summer: Harper Lee
“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.”
“I am constantly amazed by man’s inhumanity to man.” – Primo Levi, Italian chemist, writer, Auschwitz survivor, and author of “Survival in Auschwitz” and “The Periodic Table,” who was born 31 July 1919. The Royal Institution of Great Britain has named “The Periodic Table” the best science book ever written.
Some quotes from the work of Primo Levi:
“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.”
“The sea’s only gifts are harsh blows and, occasionally, the chance to feel strong. Now, I don’t know much about the sea, but I do know that that’s the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head.”
“Sooner or later in life everyone discovers that perfect happiness is unrealizable, but there are few who pause to consider the antithesis: that perfect unhappiness is equally unattainable. The obstacles preventing the realization of both these extreme states are of the same nature: they derive from our human condition which is opposed to everything infinite.”
“A country is considered the more civilised the more the wisdom and efficiency of its laws hinder a weak man from becoming too weak and a powerful one too powerful.”
“Even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last — the power to refuse our consent.”
“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.”
“Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.”
“We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.”
“Beyond the fence stand the Lords of Death, and not far away the train is waiting.”
“The aims of life are the best defense against death.”
Reflections in Summer: Henri Bergson
“Fortunately, some are born with spiritual immune systems that sooner or later give rejection to the illusory worldview grafted upon them from birth through social conditioning. They begin sensing that something is amiss, and start looking for answers. Inner knowledge and anomalous outer experiences show them a side of reality others are oblivious to, and so begins their journey of awakening. Each step of the journey is made by following the heart instead of following the crowd and by choosing knowledge over the veils of ignorance.”
American Art – Part IV of V: Peter Van Dyck
In the words of one critic, “Peter Van Dyk (born 1978) has studied at both Wesleyan University and the renowned Florence Academy of Art. An emerging talent, his work conveys a maturity and contemplative serenity, whether through the downward tilt of a young woman’s chin or the calm of an empty room waiting for the next occupant. His paintings are beautifully rendered – elegant in their simplicity, the surfaces smooth and creamy. Steeped in the traditional techniques imparted by a strict academic background, his work represents an exciting marriage of a new voice speaking in the time-honored language of classical painting.”
Reflections in Summer: Tara O’Brady
“But in summer, welcoming summer, the rocks are soft-fledged with moss. The forest floor is bouncy with fresh shoots and enthusiastic blooms; the twisted angles of the branches are laced by bud and leaf.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Tie Your Heart at Night to Mine”
By Pablo Neruda
Tie your heart at night to mine, love,
and both will defeat the darkness
like twin drums beating in the forest
against the heavy wall of wet leaves.
Night crossing: black coal of dream
that cuts the thread of earthly orbs
with the punctuality of a headlong train
that pulls cold stone and shadow endlessly.
Love, because of it, tie me to a purer movement,
to the grip on life that beats in your breast,
with the wings of a submerged swan,
So that our dream might reply
to the sky’s questioning stars
with one key, one door closed to shadow.
“Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French writer, poet, and pioneering aviator, who died on 31 July 1944.
After having little success as a writer, Saint-Exupery decided to take a job delivering mail as a pilot for a commercial airline. While working in the desolate isolation of the desert, he discovered something that proved to be a catalyst for his artistry: Quiet and solitude are necessary prerequisites for creative endeavors. Filled with newfound inspiration, Saint-Exupery wrote several remarkable books, including “The Little Prince,” “Wind, Sand and Stars” (which fired my boyhood imagination with dreams of adventure), and “Night Flight.” Finally, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote something that I have always found especially heartening, since I generally find myself among individuals who don’t understand the affection and gratitude we night people feel for our Dark Muse: “Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.”
Some additional quotes from the work of Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
“How could there be any question of acquiring or possessing, when the one thing needful for a man is to become – to be at last, and to die in the fullness of his being.”
“A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born.”
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.”
“It is such a secret place, the land of tears.”
“Only he can understand what a farm is, what a country is, who shall have sacrificed part of himself to his farm or country, fought to save it, struggled to make it beautiful. Only then will the love of farm or country fill his heart.”
“True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”
“You are responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.”
“What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Alec Petooloosie
Alec Petooloosie is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Ray Bradbury
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Honey at the Table,”
By Mary Oliver
It fills you with the soft
essence of vanished flowers, it becomes
a trickle sharp as a hair that you follow
from the honey pot over the table
and out the door and over the ground,
and all the while it thickens,
grows deeper and wilder, edged
with pine boughs and wet boulders,
pawprints of bobcat and bear, until
deep in the forest you
shuffle up some tree, you rip the bark,
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
American Art – Part V of V: Neil McAuliffe
Artist Statement: “My ‘style’ is realistic, but my intent is not ‘photo realism.’ Detail in painting is important, but the final product should look like a painting. I’ve drawn and painted all my life and look forward to many more years of creating art for people to enjoy.”