American Art – Part I of II: Stephen Wright
Stephen Wright earned a BFA in Graphic Design with a Minor in Illustration from Cal State, Long Beach.
I’m patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it.” – Dame Edith Sitwell, British poet and critic, who was born 7 September 1887.
Some quotes from Dame Edith Sitwell:
“My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence.”
“I am not eccentric. It’s just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish.”
“Eccentricity is not, as some would believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.”
“I wish the government would put a tax on pianos for the incompetent.”
“Poetry is the deification of reality.”
Reflections in Summer: Marty Rubin
Here is one critic describing the background of Indian painter Jamil Naqsh (born 1939): “A simple man at heart, Jamil Naqsh lives surrounded by plants and greenery, birds and other pets, paintings and artefacts. A very eastern man, Jamil Naqsh never lost sight of his roots. Sitting on the floor, recounting anecdotes, and relating experiences of his childhood, he is a sensitive man totally absorbed in his work, and yet completely aware of all that is happening in the world of today. Bridging both worlds with no seeming contradiction, he is both a modern expressionist and a traditional miniaturist.”
From the Music Archives: Gloria Gaynor
Born 7 September 1949 – Gloria Gaynor, an American vocalist.
Reflections in Summer: May Sarton
A Poem for Today
“The Stone Mason”
By Jan Schreiber
He builds from local rocks that come to hand—
craggy, irregular, or water-worn—
and guided by a form he has in mind
but nothing like a plan, nothing so stern.
Colors and sizes join haphazardly
except for some that draw themselves together;
some likely stones he has to throw away,
a few so small they are not worth the bother.
And gradually the thing materializes,
assumes the shape he’d say he worked to build
although the details harbor some surprises
and there are places where he’d say he failed.
A century from now all will be changed
except the pile of rocks that he arranged.
Reflections in Summer: Jerzy Kosinski
“The principle of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.”
“I was getting sick and tired of being lectured by dear friends with their little bottles of water and their regular visits to the gym. All of a sudden, we’ve got this voluntary prohibition that has to do with health and fitness. I’m not really in favor of health and fitness.” – Barbara Holland, American writer and author of
“Endangered Pleasures: In Defense of Naps, Bacon, Martinis, Profanity, and Other Indulgences” and “The Joy of Drinking,” who died 7 September 2010.
Some quotes from the work of Barbara Holland:
“A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.”
“Drink, the social glue of the human race. Probably in the beginning we could explain ourselves to our close family members with grunts, muttered syllables, gestures, slaps, and punches. Then when the neighbors started dropping in to help harvest, stomp, stir, and drink the bounty of the land, after we’d softened our natural suspicious hostility with a few stiff ones, we had to think up some more nuanced communications, like words. From there it was a short step to grammar, civil law, religion, history, and ‘The Whiffenpoof Song.’”
“For some of us, the soul is resident in the sole, and yearns ceaselessly for light and air and self-expression. Our feet are our very selves. The touch of floor or carpet, grass or mud or asphalt, speaks to us loud and clear from the foot, that scorned and lowly organ as dear to us as our eyes and ears.”
“In the metropolitan haunts of the highly sophisticated, the cocktail is no longer an instrument of friendship but a competitive fashion statement, or one-upmanship.”
“In the taverns all was amiable and easy, but the coffeehouses were cauldrons of edgy malcontents.”
“Joy has been leaking out of our life. We have let the new Puritans take over, spreading a layer of foreboding across the land until even ignorant small children rarely laugh anymore. Pain has become nobler than pleasure; work, however foolish or futile, nobler than play; and denying ourselves even the most harmless delights marks the suitably somber outlook on life.”
“Our Revolution was born and raised in taverns.”
Reflections in Summer: Edgar Watson Howe
“The cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.” – Karen von Blixen-Finecke, better known by her pen name Isak Dinesen, Danish writer and author of “Out of Africa,” who died 7 September 1962.
Some quotes from “Out of Africa”:
“People who dream when they sleep at night know of a special kind of happiness which the world of the day holds not, a placid ecstasy, and ease of heart, that are like honey on the tongue. They also know that the real glory of dreams lies in their atmosphere of unlimited freedom. It is not the freedom of the dictator, who enforces his own will on the world, but the freedom of the artist, who has no will, who is free of will. The pleasure of the true dreamer does not lie in the substance of the dream, but in this: that there things happen without any interference from his side, and altogether outside his control. Great landscapes create themselves, long splendid views, rich and delicate colours, roads, houses, which he has never seen or heard of.”
“Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road.”
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”
“Up in this air you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart. In the highlands you woke up in the morning and thought: Here I am, where I ought to be.”
“It is impossible that a town will not play a part in your life; it does not even make much difference whether you have more good or bad things to say of it, it draws your mind to it, by a mental law of gravitation.”
“When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.”
Reflections in Summer: Niccolo Machiavelli
From the American Old West: The James-Younger Gang
7 September 1876 – The James-Younger gang fails in their attempt to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota. In the words of one historian, “On September 7, 1876, the James-Younger gang attempted a raid on the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota. After this robbery and a manhunt, only Frank and Jesse James were left alive and uncaptured.”
Reflections in Summer: Gwendolyn Brooks
By Eve Merriam
Vacation is over;
It’s time to depart.
I must leave behind
(Although it breaks my heart)
Tadpoles in the pond,
A can of eels,
A leaky rowboat,
Abandoned car wheels;
Reflections in Summer: Michael Chabon
“Adventures befall the unadventurous as readily, if not as frequently, as the bold. Adventures are a logical and reliable result – and have been since at least the time of Odysseus – of the fatal act of leaving one’s home, or trying to return to it again. All adventures happen in that damned and magical space, wherever it may be found or chanced upon, which least resembles one’s home. As soon as you have crossed your doorstep or the county line, into that place where the structures, laws, and conventions of your upbringing no longer apply, where the support and approval (but also the disapproval and repression) of your family and neighbors are not to be had: then you have entered into adventure, a place of sorrow, marvels, and regret.”
Reflections in Summer: Lucy Maud Montgomery
From the American History Archives: Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden
Born 7 September 1829 – Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden, an American physician and geologist noted for his pioneering surveying expeditions into the Rocky Mountains in the late 19th century. In the words of one historian: “In 1871, Hayden led a geological survey into the Yellowstone region of northwestern Wyoming. The survey consisted of some 50 men which included notables such as Thomas Moran, painter and famous frontier/Civil War photographer William Henry Jackson. The following year Hayden and his work ‘Preliminary Report of the United States Geological Survey of Montana and Portions of Adjacent Territories; Being a Fifth Annual Report of Progress’ was instrumental in convincing Congress to establish Yellowstone as the first U.S. National Park, aided by Jackson’s stunning large-format photographs and Moran’s dramatic paintings. These publications also encouraged the westward expansion of the United States.”
Below – 1. Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden during the Civil War, in which he served as a physician. 2. A noon meal in Ferdinand V. Hayden’s camp of the U.S. Geological and Geophysical Survey, Red Buttes, Wyoming Territory, August 24, 1870. Hayden sits at the far end the table in a dark jacket. (Photo by William Henry Jackson, standing at the far right.) 3. William Henry Jackson, photographer of the Hayden party. 4. William Henry Jackson photograph of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 5 Thomas Moran painting of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. 6. Thomas Moran painting of Castle Geyser.
Reflections in Summer: Syd Hair
Back from the Territory – Art: Ricky Jaw
Rick Jaw is an Inuit sculptor.
Back from the Territory, I share this with you, before I light out again.
A Third Poem for Today
By Dana Gioia
So much of what we live goes on inside—
The diaries of grief, the tongue-tied aches
Of unacknowledged love are no less real
For having passed unsaid. What we conceal
Is always more than what we dare confide.
Think of the letters that we write our dead.
Reflections in Summer: Steve Maraboli
“Remember when your curiosity inspired your investigative mind to explore and learn… you weren’t bogged down with resentment, cynicism, and emotional baggage… just think about how great it would be to return to that mindset of unencumbered learning and adventurous living… you are just one choice away from that life… choose to let go of the infertile past… go live your adventure!”
American Art – Part II of II: Kathryn Altus
In the words of one writer, “Kathryn Altus uses the grandeur of the Northwest topography as a point of departure to create abstract landscapes with a palpable sense of near-infinite space. These ethereal works are minimalist in aesthetic and transcend specific locales. Altus’ paintings explore the transition between land, air and water, as well as the intersection of the natural environment and the marks of human presence within it.”