American Art – Part I of IV: Silas Kopf
In 1988, Silas Kopf was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts, Craftsman’s Fellowship at the Ecole Boulle, France.
Below – “Cracked III” (Bubinga Ebony, Granadillo, Teak, and Abalone Shell); “Is Anyone Paying Attention?” (Bubinga, Maple, Katalox, and Marquetry, with Wood, Reconstituted Stone, Metal, and Shell); “Checkmate” (Mahogany, Narra, Katalox, and Marquetry); “Tiger Cabinet” (Satinwood, Cherry, Ebony, Holly, and Walnut).
A Poem for Today
By Paul Lake
We’re playing Simon Says. Remember how?
(Simon says remember how, so it’s okay.)
It’s not enough to do what Simon says,
It’s what he says he says that you obey.
The rules are Simon’s. All right, let’s begin.
Simon says, Don’t read this sentence or you’re out.
You did? That’s it, game’s over, Simon wins,
However much you plead, protest, or pout.
Bound by the iron chain of such curved sense,
Simon himself must discontinue play.
There’s no appeal to gray omnipotence.
What Simon says he says he can’t unsay.
From the American History Archives: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Reflections in Summer: Bryant McGill
A Second Poem for Today
“Whose Mouth Do I Speak With”
By Suzanne Rancourt
I can remember my father bringing home spruce gum.
He worked in the woods and filled his pockets
with golden chunks of pitch.
For his children
he provided this special sacrament
and we’d gather at this feet, around his legs,
bumping his lunchbox, and his empty thermos rattled inside.
Our skin would stick to Daddy’s gluey clothing
and we’d smell like Mumma’s Pine Sol.
We had no money for store bought gum
but that’s all right.
The spruce gum
was so close to chewing amber
as though in our mouths we held the eyes of Coyote
and how many other children had fathers
that placed on their innocent, anxious tongue
the blood of tree?
“The landscapist lives in silence.” – Henri Rousseau, French Post-Impressionist painter working in a Primitivist manner, who died 2 September 1910.
Reflections in Summer: Robert Penn Warren
“Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.” – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, founder of logotherapy (a form of existential analysis), and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” who died 2 September 1997.
Some quotes from the work of Viktor Frankl:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.”
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
Reflections in Summer: Vladimir Nabokov
A Third Poem for Today
“Cutting the Sun,”
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
After Francesco Clemente’s “Indian Miniature #16”
The sun-face looms over me, gigantic-hot, smelling
of iron. Its rays striated,
rasp-red and muscled as the tongues
of iguanas. They are trying to lick away
my name. But I
am not afraid. I hold in my hands
(where did I get them)
enormous blue scissors that are
just the color of sky. I bring
the blades together, like
a song. The rays fall around me
curling a bit, like dried carrot peel. A far sound
in the air—fire
or rain? And when I’ve cut
all the way to the center of the sun
flowers, flowers, flowers.
American Art – Part II of IV: Frank Gardner
In the words of one writer, “Frank Gardner was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1986 with a BFA in painting. A desire to find true inspiration for his paintings eventually led him to Mexico in 1990. His studio is in San Miguel de Allende, where he resides with his wife and daughter.”
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together … all things connect.”
From the History Archives: Pheidippides
“Joy to you, we’ve won. Joy to you.” – The last words of Pheidippides, hero of ancient Greece who ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news of a military victory against the Persians, who died 2 September 490 B.C.E. (traditional date).
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Louise Gluck
Remember the days of our first happiness,
how strong we were, how dazed by passion,
lying all day, then all night in the narrow bed,
sleeping there, eating there too: it was summer,
it seemed everything had ripened
at once. And so hot we lay completely uncovered.
Sometimes the wind rose; a willow brushed the window.
But we were lost in a way, didn’t you feel that?
The bed was like a raft; I felt us drifting
far from our natures, toward a place where we’d discover nothing.
First the sun, then the moon, in fragments,
stone through the willow.
Things anyone could see.
Then the circles closed. Slowly the nights grew cool;
the pendant leaves of the willow
yellowed and fell. And in each of us began
a deep isolation, though we never spoke of this,
of the absence of regret.
We were artists again, my husband.
We could resume the journey.
American Art – Part III of IV: Romare Bearden
“The artist has to be exactly the opposite (of people singing the song ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’) and transcend himself as he makes judgments.” – Romare Bearden, American painter, who was born 2 September 1911.
Below – “Circe Turns a Companion of Odysseus into Swine”; “Out Chorus”; “The Evening Boat”; “Manhattan Suite”; “Cattle of the Sun God”; “Martinique Morning”; “Blue Snake”; “Near Three Rivers, Martinique”; “Calypso’s Sacred Grove”; “West Towards New Jersey.”
Reflections in Summer: Elizabeth Coatsworth
“Today I walked on the lion-coloured hills
with only cypresses for company,
until the sunset caught me, turned the brush
set the clouds
to one great roof of flame
above the earth,
so that I walk through fire, beneath fire,
and all in beauty.
I could not be alone, but felt
(closer than flesh) the presence of those
who once had burned in such transfigurations.
My happiness ran through the centuries
in one continual brightness. Looking down,
I saw the earth beneath me like a rose
petaled with mountains,
fragrant with deep peace.”
“Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go;
Or else, were this not so,
What need to chain the hours,
For Youth were always ours?
Time goes, you say?-ah no!” – From “The Paradox of Time,” by Austin Dobson, English poet and essayist, who died 2 September 1921.
“To A Greek Girl”
With breath of thyme and bees that hum,
Across the years you seem to come,—
Across the years with nymph-like head,
And wind-blown brows unfilleted;
A girlish shape that slips the bud
In lines of unspoiled symmetry;
A girlish shape that stirs the blood
With pulse of Spring, Autonoe!
Where’er you pass,—where’er you go,
I hear the pebbly rillet flow;
Where’er you go,—where’er you pass,
There comes a gladness on the grass;
You bring blithe airs where’er you tread,—
Blithe airs that blow from down and sea;
You wake in me a Pan not dead,—
Not wholly dead!—Autonoe!
How sweet with you on some green sod
To wreathe the rustic garden-god;
How sweet beneath the chestnut’s shade
With you to weave a basket-braid;
To watch across the stricken chords
Your rosy-twinkling fingers flee;
To woo you in soft woodland words,
With woodland pipe, Autonoe!
In vain,—in vain! The years divide:
Where Thames rolls a murky tide,
I sit and fill my painful reams,
And see you only in my dreams;—
A vision, like Alcestis, brought
From under-lands of Memory,—
A dream of Form in days of Thought,—
A dream,—a dream, Autonoe!
Reflections in Summer: Halldor Laxness
“The farm brook ran down from the mountain in a straight line for the fold then swerved to the west to go its way down into the marshes. There were two knee-high falls in it and two pools, knee-deep. At the bottom there was shingle, pebbles and sand. It ran in many curves. Each curve had its own tone, but not one of them was dull; the brook was merry and music-loving, like youth, but yet with various strings, and it played its music without thought of any audience and did not care though no one heard for a hundred years, like the true poet.”
In the words of one writer, “Arthur Lismer was an English-Canadian painter, known for his involvement in the Group of Seven. Lismer was born in Sheffield, England. As a child, he worked at a photo engraving company, which peaked his interest in the arts. Lismer received a scholarship to take courses at the Sheffield School of Arts. In 1905 Lismer moved to Belgium to study art full-time at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.
Before the Group of Seven became fully developed, Lismer spent some years moving around Canada. Lismer worked at the Victoria School of Art and Design in British Columbia and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. In 1918 Lismer returned to Toronto, where he became the vice-president of the Ontario College of Art and Design.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
“Searching for Sea Glass,”
By Raymond A. Foss
Hidden amid the rocks, the shells
under the seaweeds, the driftwood
sitting proudly on the sand
Clear, green, brown, or blue
smooth, cloudy, from the tumbling
rolling in the surf
Waiting for my eyes, my fingers
falling into my bucket, bag, pocket
a shell, my hands, whichever I choose
to join others at home, treasures all
But it is the leisurely searching
lingering in the wet sand
by the water’s edge
that is the great escape
Back from the Territory – Art: Rosemary Piper
Artist Statement: “The creative process continually drives me to make images that range from the expressive spontaneity of painting, be it a tiny detailed rendition of a flower or berry, or a large vibrant landscape, to the technical renderings of graphic mediums.”
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
Reflections in Summer: Immanuel Kant
“Look closely. The beautiful may be small.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
By Jeff Holt
I dig for photographs of you once more,
Wishing that you’d simply let me sleep.
Unhealthy? Yes, but if you didn’t keep
Disturbing me, I wouldn’t have this chore.
I keep them hidden in a dresser drawer,
Once mounted portraits now a wadded heap
Beneath old birthday cards, and other cheap
Reminders of the lives I keep in store.
I know it’s strange to keep you buried here
In flimsy images I should have tossed
Along with ashtrays and your makeup case.
But digging deep, and seeing you appear
With crumpled features shows I haven’t lost
My touch for smoothing creases in your face.
Reflections in Summer: Willa Cather
“The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Todd Lanam
Todd Lanam earned a BFA from the California College of Arts, San Francisco and an MFA from San Francisco State University.