American Art – Part I of V: Peter Rolfe
Peter Rolfe lives and works in Maine. He is known for his landscapes, still lifes, and street scenes.
A Poem for Today
“Looking at Maps”
By Elizabeth Arnold
If they’d had writing in time, Cuba could have been Crete,
watery source of the Minoans and thus the Greeks.
What’s lost? A possible us
growing like new foliage out of stony ground, emerging?
Last voice, first, a whole world calling—
awful, inaudible—into the unstoppable loud (roaring!)
From the Music Archives: Ibrahim Ferrer
Died on 6 August 2005 – Ibrahim Ferrer, a popular Cuban singer and musician who late in life became a member of the internationally successful Buena Vista Social Club.
Reflections in Summer: e.e. cummings
American Art – Part II of V: Timothy O’Sullivan
As a teenager, Timothy O’Sullivan worked in the studio of the legendary 19th century photographer Mathew Brady, who is considered the father of photo-journalism. A veteran of the American Civil War in its first year, O’Sullivan turned his hand to photographing the horrors of combat during the final three years of the conflict before setting out on his cross-continental expeditions. According to one historian, “From 1867 to 1869, he was official photographer on the United States Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel under Clarence King. The expedition began at Virginia City, Nevada, where he photographed the mines, and worked eastward… In so doing, he became one of the pioneers in the field of geophotography. O’Sullivan’s pictures were among the first to record the prehistoric ruins, Navajo weavers, and pueblo villages of the Southwest. In contrast to the Asian and Eastern landscape (conventions), the subject matter he focused on was a new concept. It involved taking pictures of nature as an untamed, pre-industrialized land without the use of landscape painting conventions. O’Sullivan combined science and art, making exact records of extraordinary beauty…From 1871 to 1874 he returned to the southwestern United States to join Lt. George M. Wheeler’s survey west of the 100th meridian west.”
Below – Six of Timothy O’Sullivan’s sepia-tinted photographs of the American West: Timothy O’Sullivan; Native Americans: The Pah-Ute (Paiute) Indian group, near Cedar, Utah in a picture from 1872; Tents can be seen (bottom, centre) at a point known as Camp Beauty close to canyon walls in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona in 1873; Timothy O’Sullivan’s darkroom wagon, pulled by four mules, entered the frame at the right side of the photograph, reached the center of the image, and abruptly U-turned, heading back out of the frame. Footprints leading from the wagon toward the camera reveal the photographer’s path. Made at the Carson Sink in Nevada in 1867, this image of shifting sand dunes reveals the patterns of tracks recently reconfigured by the wind; The junction of Green and Yampah Canyons, in Utah in 1872; Cathedral Mesa, Colorado River, Arizona in 1871.
Reflections in Summer: Thomas Merton
“O how sweet to be reincarnated as dreams,
Dreams that help us forget,
the resentment awaiting between the bow and arrow.” –
From “Passages to Exile,” by Buland Al-Haydari, Kurdish poet, who died 6 August 1996.
In the words of one historian, “Buland Al-Haydari was born in Northern Iraq on September 26, 1926 into a Kurdish family. Buland (Kurdish for mountain), moved to Baghdad as a boy and began to write Kurdish and Arabic poetry in his teens and early twenties. By the 1940’s, Al-Haydari was emerging as a self-educated poet dedicated towards expressing his political activism and left-wing politics through his poetry. His works sought to focus on political themes within Iraq that were concerned with oppressive rulers and abuse of power. He was part of the leftist intellectual community that promoted secular unity to overcome past colonized oppression, western hegemony and domestic dictatorship. Unlike the Iraqi Nationalist who sought to unify the country through Islam, Al-Haydari became part of the Marxist inspired rebellion against Islamism and Western colonization. He envisioned a secular democracy where all Iraqis, despite religion, could live together and appreciate the diversity of their country.”
And here am I,
By the side of the stove,
that a woman might dream of me,
That I might bury in her breast
A secret she would not mock;
Dreaming that in my fading years
I might spring forth as light,
And she would say:
This light is mine;
Let no woman draw near it.
By the side of the stove,
And here Am I,
Spinning my dreams and fearing them,
Afraid her eyes would mock
My bald, idiotic head,
My greying, aged soul,
Afraid her feet would kick
And here, by the side of the stove,
I would be lightly mocked by a woman.
Without love, or dreams, or a woman,
And tomorrow I shall die of the cold within,
Here, by the side of the stove
Reflections in Summer: Gerald Durrell
“What fools we are, eh? What fools, sitting here in the sun, singing. And of love, too! I am too old for it and you are too young, and yet we waste our time singing about it.
Ah, well, let’s have a glass of wine, eh?”
Reflections in Summer: Wendell Berry
“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and one of the greatest poets in the history of the English language, who was born 6 August 1809.
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,– cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor’d of them all,–
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
>From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,–
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me,–
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,– you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Reflections in Summer: Nikos Kazantzakis
“When I encounter a sunrise, a painting, a woman, or an idea that makes my heart bound like a young calf, then I know I am standing in front of happiness.”
In the words of one writer, Russian painter Alyona Azernaya (born 1966) creates “a personal world, where Slavic mythologies, traditional Russian tales and biblical narratives, mix themselves together…
symbolizing the fragility of the man on the earth but also its trust in life.”
Reflections in Summer: Pema Chodron
From the American History Archives – Part I of II: Hiroshima
6 August 1945 – Hiroshima, Japan is devastated when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” is dropped on the city by the United States B-29 Bomber “Enola Gay.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Neal Bowers
The world has caves and crevices enough
for everything that lurks just at the edge
of vision, thin and quick as mist
or ponderous with fur and lumbering
into the matted shadow of the woods.
By following, we learn how little we
possess the land we own, how willfully
it holds onto its secrets, opening
a door for its familiars, closing out
unwelcome strangers breathless in pursuit.
Reflections in Summer: W.C. Fields
American Art – Part III of V: Chris Antemann
Artist Statement: “My work reclaims the figurine from its origin of multiplicity, pushing it back into the world of the original object. I began with extensive study of 18th century figurines and local kitsch. Browsing Montana second hand stores, I routinely came upon examples of Asian kitsch scattered among the decorative objects I’d become familiar with in Minnesota. My attraction to these Asian objects, my love of porcelain and history, led me to the residency in China. After working in one of the oldest figurine factories in the world, I was elevated and inspired by the dedication, focus and skill of the artisans and stimulated to seek other factory experiences.”
Reflections in Summer: Shirley Hazzard
“We take our bearings from the wrong landmark, wish that when young we had studied the stars – name the flowers for ourselves and the deserts after others. When the territory is charted, its eventual aspect may be quite other than what was hoped for. One can only say, it will be a whole – a region from which a few features, not necessarily those that seemed prominent at the start, will stand out in clear colours. Not to direct, but to solace us; not to fix our positions, but to show us how we came.”
From the American History Archives – Part II of II: The Voting Rights Act of 1965
6 August 1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965 becomes the law of the land. In the words of one historian, (“The Act) is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections.”
Reflections in Summer: Thomas Paine
A Third Poem for Today
“A Home Buyer Watches The Moon,”
By David Bottoms
The whole neighborhood is quiet.
The architect who lives across the street
is now the architect of dreams, his cedar split-level
still as a crypt on the landscaped hill.
In the brick ranch house
the city planner turns another spade-full of dirt,
a groundbreaking for his own monument. And I
who can no longer afford to live
in my two-story, have come out into the street
to stare past the mailboxes at an abrupt dead end.
Quietly now the bats jerk
in and out of the streetlight, their shadows
zipping across the grass like black snakes.
And the moon lies balanced on the roof of my house
like a new gold coin, or the simple face
of an angel in a colonial cemetery.
Reflections in Summer: Gerald Durrell
American Art – Part IV of V: Robert Highsmith
According to one critic, “Robert Highsmith received his art training from New Mexico State University and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida. Since then he has had many one-man and group shows throughout the country. Critics and collectors alike have liked his work and he is the recipient of over a hundred awards for his work. His watercolors are in numerous corporate and private collections in the US and abroad. Most recently, he was honored with the Governors Award of Excellence in Art. The desert landscape and canyons of the southwest are his favorite subjects. His paintings are strong, unsentimental statements with equal parts heart and technical virtuosity. What takes them to brilliance is the stark contrasts that make the paintings photorealistic in detail.”
Reflections in Summer: Robert Louis Stevenson
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
From the American Old West: Chief Thundercloud
Born 6 August 1856 – Chief Thundercloud, member of the Blackfoot tribe, who served as a scout for the United States Army and later worked with both P.T. Barnum and Buffalo Bill. The profile of Chief Thundercloud is believed to be the model for the Native American who appears on both the nickel and the five dollar gold piece; he was also the subject of paintings by Frederic Remington, John Singer Sargent, and Eulabee Dix.
Reflections in Summer: Vincent van Gogh
“I have nature and art and poetry; and it that is not enough, what is enough?”
Back from the Territory – Art: Buddy Alikamik
Buddy Aliamik is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: James Hillman
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Frank Ormsby
The lights come on and stay on under the trees.
Visibly a whole neighborhood inhabits the dusk,
so punctual and in place it seems to deny
dark its dominion. Nothing will go astray,
the porch lamps promise. Sudden, as though a match
failed to ignite at the foot of the garden, the first squibs
trouble the eye. Impossible not to share
that sportive, abortive, clumsy, where-are-we-now
dalliance with night, such soothing relentlessness.
What should we make of fireflies, their quick flare
of promise and disappointment, their throwaway style?
Our heads turn this way and that. We are loath to miss
such jauntiness in nature. Those fugitive selves,
winged and at random! Our flickery might-have-beens
come up form the woods to haunt us! Our yet-to-be
as tentative frolic! What do fireflies say?
That loneliness made of light becomes at last
convivial singleness? That any antic spark
cruising the void might titillate creation?
And whether they spend themselves, or go to ground,
or drift with their lights out, they have left the gloom,
for as long as our eyes take to absorb such absence,
less than it seemed, as childless and deprived
as Chaos and Old Night. But ruffled, too,
as though it unearthed some memory of light
from its long blackout, a hospitable core
fit home for fireflies, brushed by fireflies’ wings.
Reflections in Summer: Edward Abbey
“There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.”
American Art – Part V of V: Kathleen Sidwell
Artist Statement: “Art is a reflection of the inner world made manifest in the outer. It is powerful in its ability to change our view of the world. It is beauty for the sake of beauty, and dreamlike in its ability to change our state of mind. It evokes a transformation when it takes us from our preconceived theories into a suspended moment of consciousness, when we newly see the miracle of phenomena around us. I seek to engage the viewer and transport them newly into their own perception, to look anew at the world around them and see it clearly for the first time, as if with new eyes.”