American Art – Part I of V: Sam Vokey
In the words of one writer, “(Vokey’s) painting style is most closely associated with the Boston School tradition of painting which crosses Realism with some of the softer edges and painterly qualities of Impressionism. Vokey’s still lifes and landscapes demonstrate a strong consideration for creating balance between the overall composition and the light and dark values in his paintings.”
Reflections in Summer: Walt Whitman
“Resist much. Obey little.”
“Oh, beautiful are the flowers of your garden,
The flowers of your garden are fair:
Blue flowers of your eyes
And dusk flower of your hair;
Dew flower of your mouth
And peony-budded breasts,
And the flower of the curve of your hand
Where my hand rests.” – “The Lover Sings of a Garden,” by Helen Hoyt, American poet, who died 2 August 1972.
“Rain at Night”
Are you awake? Do you hear the rain?
How rushingly it strikes upon the ground,
And on the roof, and the wet window-pane!
Sometimes I think it is a comfortable sound,
Making us feel how safe and snug we are:
Closing us off in this dark, away from the dark outside. The rest of the world seems dim tonight, mysterious and far.
Oh, there is no world left! Only darkness, darkness stretching wide
And full of the blind rain’s immeasurable fall!
How nothing must we seem unto this ancient thing!
How nothing unto the earth—and we so small!
Oh, wake, wake!—do you not feel my hands cling?
One day it will be raining as it rains tonight; the same wind blow—
Raining and blowing on this house wherein we lie: but you and I—
We shall not hear, we shall not ever know.
Reflections in Summer: Thomas Gunn
“How sociable the garden was.
We ate and talked in given light.
The children put their toys to grass
All the warm wakeful August night.”
From the Music Archives: Doris Kenner
Born 2 August 1940 – Doris Kenner, an American singer and member of The Shirelles. In the words of one critic, the Shirelles “ have been described as either the first African-American girl group to top the Billboard Hot 100, or the first girl group overall, with the song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
Here is one critic describing the artistry of French sculptor Georges Jeanclos (1933-1997): “The passionate and powerful figurative sculpture of the late Georges Jeanclos evokes emotion through a mastery of materials. Anguished and full of pathos, the works have an immediate and provocative poignancy. Their faces and postures show an extraordinary sense of tragic human experience; yet retain a tender beauty by the deft use of the sculptor’s chosen medium, a thin gray terra cotta.”
“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.” – Wallace Stevens, American poet and recipient of the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, who died 2 August 1955.
“Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock”
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
In red weather.
American Art – Part II of V: John Sloan
“Since we have to speak well of the dead, let’s knock them while they’re alive.” – John French Sloan, painter and one of the founders of the Ashcan School of American art, who was born 2 August 1871.
Reflections in Summer: John Updike
“Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war; love is a growing up.” – James Baldwin, American novelist, essayist, poet, playwright, social critic, and author of “Notes of a Native Son,” who was born 2 August 1924.
Some quotes from the work of James Baldwin:
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
“Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
“People pay for what they do, and still more for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead.”
“People can cry much easier than they can change.”
“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
“The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.”
“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
American Art – Part III of V: Arny Karl
Arny Karl (1940-2000) was one of the key artists in the early stages of the California Plein-Air Revival, a movement which started in the 1980s and continues to this day.
Reflections in Summer: Jack Kerouac
From the American History Archives: Andrew Smith Hallidie
2 August 1873 – Andrew Smith Hallidie successfully tests the first cable car on Clay Street in San Francisco.
Below – Andrew Smith Hallidie; the first cable car, operated by the Clay Street Hill Railroad Company, in 1873, with Hallidie sitting center front; another photograph of the cable car taken in 1873; a cable car operating today.
“I’ve crossed some kind of invisible line. I feel as if I’ve come to a place I never thought I’d have to come to. And I don’t know how I got here. It’s a strange place. It’s a place where a little harmless dreaming and then some sleepy, early-morning talk has led me into considerations of death and annihilation.” – Raymond Carver, American poet and short story writer, who died 2 August 1988.
I want to get up early one more morning,
before sunrise. Before the birds, even.
I want to throw cold water on my face
and be at my work table
when the sky lightens and smoke
begins to rise from the chimneys
of the other houses.
I want to see the waves break
on this rocky beach, not just hear them
break as I did in my sleep.
I want to see again the ships
that pass through the Strait from every
seafaring country in the world –
old, dirty freighters just barely moving along,
and the swift new cargo vessels
painted every color under the sun
that cut the water as they pass.
I want to keep an eye out for them.
And for the little boat that plies
the water between the ships
and the pilot station near the lighthouse.
I want to see them take a man off the ship
and put another one up on board.
I want to spend the day watching this happen
and reach my own conclusions.
I hate to seem greedy – I have so much
to be thankful for already.
But I want to get up early one more morning, at least.
And go to my place with some coffee and wait.
Just wait, to see what’s going to happen.”
Reflections in Summer: Pablo Picasso
American Art – Part IV of V: Ann Getsinger
Reflections in Summer: Neil Gaiman
From the American Old West: Wild Bill Hickok
2 August 1876 – While playing poker, Wild Bill Hickok is shot in the back and killed by Jack McCall in Deadwood, South Dakota. In the words of one historian, “When shot, Hickok was playing five card draw, and was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights. (The final card had been discarded and its replacement had possibly not yet been dealt.) The fifth card’s identity is the subject of debate to this day. In 1979, Hickok was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.”
Back from the Territory – Art: Anu Arlooktoo
Anu Arlooktoo is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Howard Thurman
“Be patient, do nothing, cease striving. We find this advice disheartening and therefore unfeasible because we forget it is our own inflexible activity that is structuring the reality. We think that if we do not hustle, nothing will happen and we will pine away. But the reality is probably in motion and after a while we might take part in that motion. But one can’t know.” – Paul Goodman, American poet, novelist, psychotherapist, public intellectual, anarchist philosopher, and author of both “Growing Up Absurd” and “The Lordly Hudson” (one of my favorite poems), who died 2 August 1972.
“Nostalgia” – from “nostos,” meaning “homecoming,” and “algos,” meaning “ache” or “pain” – “a profound feeling for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.”
“The Lordly Hudson”
“Driver, what stream is it?” I asked, well knowing
it was our lordly Hudson hardly flowing.
“It is our lordly Hudson hardly flowing,”
he said, “under the green-grown cliffs.”
Be still, heart! No one needs
your passionate suffrage to select this glory,
this is our lordly Hudson hardly flowing
under the green-grown cliffs.
“Driver, has this a peer in Europe or the East?”
“No, no!” he said. Home! Home!
Be quiet, heart! This is our lordly Hudson
and has no peer in Europe or the east.
Reflections in Summer: Stephen Hawking
American Art – Part V of V: Janis Sanders
In the woirds of one writer, “Janis Sanders is an accomplished oil painter, who has won awards for his unique painting style. His work is done with a palette knife, often en plein air. He melds elements of American Realism with Modernism/Impressionism for a dramatically contemporary visual result. He works to convey light glancing on a surface to communicate the spirit of place of each singular American setting. He paints muscularly, enthusiastically, vigorously outdoors throughout the year, from the rugged coast of Maine to the verdant marshes of the North Shore of Boston, to the quiet sand dunes of the Outer Cape.”