American Art – Part I of II: Susan Goldsmith
Susan Goldstein earned a BFA and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland.
A Poem for Today
By Gail White
My cat, no Lassie, looks at me
With eyes whose green tranquility
Could watch me drown as long as she
Had just been fed. She ought to be
A grand Episcopalian cat
With blue jay feathers on her hat,
Who flips her furs across the pew
While blandly disregarding you;
A cat who gets her every wish,
Who knows what wine to have with fish,
Imposingly, serenely fat,
A white-gloved Southern Lady cat.
Reflections in Summer: Tom Robbins
Dutch painter Rein Pol (born 1949) trained at the Groningen Academy of Arts “Minerva” (1971-1976). In the words of one critic, “Each subject painted by Pol is represented in a clear, harmonic composition with particular attention to light, expression of matter, space- and colour-effect. The paintings are not meant to copy the reality around us, but as a representation of his own reality.”
“Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recaptured at will.” – Charles Baudelaire, French poet, essayist, art critic, and translator, who died 31 August 1867.
Under the overhanging yews,
The dark owls sit in solemn state,
Like stranger gods; by twos and twos
Their red eyes gleam. They meditate.
Motionless thus they sit and dream
Until that melancholy hour
When, with the sun’s last fading gleam,
The nightly shades assume their power.
From their still attitude the wise
Will learn with terror to despise
All tumult, movement, and unrest;
Reflections in Summer: Martin Heidegger
“A painting by Van Gogh. A pair of rough peasant shoes, nothing else. Actually the painting represents nothing. But as to what it is in that picture, you are immediately alone with it as though you yourself were making your way homeward with your hoe on an evening in late fall after the last potato fires have died down. What is here? The canvas? The brush strokes? The spots of color?”
According to one art critic, “Japanese painter Ikenaga Yasunari’s serene and soothing portraits of modern women evoke a dreamy nostalgia through their faded golden hues and elegant floating poses. Using a Menso brush, mineral pigments, and soot ink on linen cloth, Yasunari (born 1965) continues the ancient tradition of Nihonga painting while simultaneously bringing modern elements to play, such as present-day clothing styles and floral textile designs. The result is both beautiful and melancholy, capturing the timelessness of the Nihonga style as well as its dimming presence through the years.”
Note: “Nihonga” (“Japanese-style paintings”) are those that have been created in accordance with traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques, and materials. While based on traditions over a thousand years old, the term was coined in the Meiji period (1868-1912) of Imperial Japan, to distinguish such works from Western-style paintings.
A Second Poem for Today
By Donald Justice
Lights are burning
In quiet rooms
Where lives go on
The quiet lives
That follow us—
These lives we lead
But do not own—
Stand in the rain
When we are gone,
So quietly . . .
And the last bus
Comes letting dark
Black flowers, black flowers.
And lives go on.
And lives go on
Like sudden lights
At street corners
Layla Al-Attar (1944-1993) was an Iraqi painter and Director of the Iraqi National Art Museum whose work was exhibited internationally. Tragically, Layla, her husband, and their housekeeper were killed in a U.S. missile attack on Baghdad which was ordered by President Bill Clinton in retaliation for the attempted assassination of George H.W. Bush by Iraqi intelligence agents during his visit to Kuwait.
Reflections in Summer: Veronika Tugaleva
“Our work is not to become unique. We are unique. Our work is to unleash our sense of adventure and to allow the inner whisper that says ‘come hither’ to be reason enough to go.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Elizabeth Bishop
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
“The sunset caught me, turned the brush to copper,
set the clouds
to one great roof of flame
above the earth.” – Elizabeth Coatsworth, American writer and recipient of the 1931 Newberry Medal for “The Cat Who Went to Heaven,” who died 31 August 1986.
“The Cat Who Went to Heaven” will delight and edify both children and adults.
Some quotes from Elizabeth Coatsworth:
“The magic of autumn has seized the countryside; now that the sun isn’t ripening anything it shines for the sake of the golden age; for the sake of Eden; to please the moon for all I know.”
“I say that almost everywhere there is beauty enough to fill a person’s life if one would only be sensitive to it. but Henry says No: that broken beauty is only a torment, that one must have a whole beauty with man living in relation to it to have a rich civilization and art. . . . Is it because I am a woman that I accept what crumbs I may have, accept the hot-dog stands and amusement parks if I must, if the blue is bright beyond them and the sunset flushes the breasts of sea birds?”
“We who dance hungry and wild…under a winter’s moon.”
“Only of one thing am I sure:
when I dream
I am always ageless.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
“Milton by Firelight,”
By Gary Snyder
Piute Creek, August 1955
“O hell, what do mine eyes
with grief behold?”
Working with an old
Singlejack miner, who can sense
The vein and cleavage
In the very guts of rock, can
Blast granite, build
Switchbacks that last for years
Under the beat of snow, thaw, mule-hooves.
What use, Milton, a silly story
Of our lost general parents,
eaters of fruit?
The Indian, the chainsaw boy,
And a string of six mules
Came riding down to camp
Hungry for tomatoes and green apples.
Sleeping in saddle-blankets
Under a bright night-sky
Han River slantwise by morning.
In ten thousand years the Sierras
Will be dry and dead, home of the scorpion.
Ice-scratched slabs and bent trees.
No paradise, no fall,
Only the weathering land
The wheeling sky,
Man, with his Satan
Scouring the chaos of the mind.
Reflections in Summer: Leigh Ann Henion
Here is one critic describing the artistry of Romanian painter Nicolae Maniu (born 1944): “Maniu’s conception of art embraces two aspects: on one hand, the elaboration of a three dimensional composition in a Trompe l’Oeil effect, and on the other, the pushing back of boundaries. He uses a hyperrealist technique to show some surrealist images where the real is mixed with the irrational, the logic with the absurd. The spectator is then astonished by this confusing combination, and enchanted by this mastery in creating such unknown territories. Thus the delight of anyone looking at Maniu’s painting will be complete.”
Reflections in Summer: Edward Abbey
“Beyond the wall of the unreal city … there is another world waiting for you. It is the old true world of the deserts, the mountains, the forests, the islands, the shores, the open plains. Go there. Be there. Walk gently and quietly deep within it. And then –”
A Fifth Poem for Today
By Robinson Jeffers
The old voice of the ocean, the bird-chatter of little rivers,
(Winter has given them gold for silver
To stain their water and bladed green for brown to line their banks)
From different throats intone one language.
So I believe if we were strong enough to listen without
Divisions of desire and terror
To the storm of the sick nations, the rage of the hunger smitten cities,
Those voices also would be found
Clean as a child’s; or like some girl’s breathing who dances alone
By the ocean-shore, dreaming of lovers.
Reflections in Summer: Jack Kerouac
Back from the Territory – Art: Kelly Lucassie
Kelly Lucassie is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: John Muir
“We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Carolyn Raphael
At first the gaps are small: a mislaid key,
the name of the new neighbor, whose friendly face
invites address; then some familiar place,
its landscape changed by twilight’s sorcery
into an alien facsimile.
“That sweet café in France (or was it Greece?)
where we sipped wine from Corinth (maybe Nice) . . . .”
“Don’t you remember? It was Normandy.”
So we both tolerate each other’s slips,
indulge the mangled punch line and the flare
of irritation at misquoted verse,
amuse ourselves with calculated quips—
till I look for a stamp, and, in despair,
I find an unmailed letter in my purse.
Reflections in Summer: Paul Cezanne
“Literature expresses itself by abstractions, whereas painting, by means of drawing and colour, gives concrete shape to sensations and perceptions.”
American Art – Part II of II: Vincent Giarrano
In the words of one writer, “Realist painter and former comic-book artist Vincent Giarrano divides his compositions into three categories: ‘people,’ ‘places,’ and ‘things.’ New York City’s streets, cafes, apartments, and artists’ studios serve as the settings for many of his oil paintings; he has featured SoHo’s iconic iron and stone architectural facades, fashionable women on sidewalks or at home, and studied still lifes that evoke cafés, restaurants, and home kitchens. He credits his work in comics—drawing such timeless superheroes as Batman, Spiderman, and Aquaman—as helping to shape the sense of a story that characterizes his paintings. ‘I find narrative is a huge part of what I do,’ says Giarrano, who prefers to leave his paintings open-ended and ambiguous, allowing viewers to complete each one of his vignettes with stories of their own imagination.”