Musings in December: Nick Trout
“Without fail, he always signed off on these letters with love and he always included Whiskey and Bess in the list of individuals sending this love my way. At the time it made me laugh, it made me embarrassed, but as soon as I softened, as soon as I matured back into his son, I came to appreciate what he was saying — an endearing and magnanimous reminder of how family will always be the sum of its individual members, be they human or animal.”
Art for December – Part I of III: Charles C. Allen
Below – “Maine Fishing Shacks”
Musings in December: David Andress
“To evoke another great phrase of the American revolutionary heritage — widely though inconclusively attributed to Thomas Jefferson — the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Such a phrase is merely trite, however, unless we consider its deeper implications. For the French revolutionaries, as for so many regimes that have succeeded them across the world up to the present day, the call for vigilance against enemies, both external and internal, was the first step on the road to the loss of liberty, and lives.
Of far more significance, and the true and tragic lesson of the epic descent into The Terror, is the summons to vigilance against ourselves — that we should not assume that we are righteous, and our enemies evil; that we can see clearly, and to others are blinded by malice or folly; that we can abrogate the fragile rights of others in the name of our own certainty and all will be well regardless.
If we do not honor the message of human rights born in the revolutions of 1776 and 1786, as the French in their case most certainly failed to do, we too are on the road to The Terror.”
Art for December – Part II of III: Gifford Beal
Below – “Strolling through the Spring Fields”
Musings in December: Bill Bryson
“Finally, this being America, there is the constant possibility of murder.” (From “ A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail”)
Art for December – Part III of III: Frank A. Bicknell
Below – Honhegan Harbor, Maine
A Poem for Today
“This Morning I Pray for My Enemies”
By Joy Harjo
And whom do I call my enemy?
An enemy must be worthy of engagement.
I turn in the direction of the sun and keep walking.
It’s the heart that asks the question, not my furious mind.
The heart is the smaller cousin of the sun.
It sees and knows everything.
It hears the gnashing even as it hears the blessing.
The door to the mind should only open from the heart.
An enemy who gets in, risks the danger of becoming a friend.
Israeli Art – Michael Rozenvain
In the words of one writer, “On one’s first encounter with the work of Michael Rozenvain, one’s mind turns to the palimpsest of many generations past – that is, the parchment or tablet on which an earlier drawing or writing has been erased to make way for another. This impression quickly vanishes and is replaced by an ultra-modern concept of windows (a computer technique), in which the major element, a specific landscape or the ever-present vibrant flowers in a vase, almost entirely covers but not quite, a second, third, or even fourth scene enclosed in a framework or a window. The sensual language and texture takes precedence over the subject matter but the flowers are always present in all their rich full-blown glory. The Mediterranean street scene, the cafe orchestra, the piano, and especially the pale-skinned reclining nude women, fill or submerge the canvas in a series of what is certainly the contents of the artist’s sub-conscious as well as his conscious memory, for he is reluctant to let them disappear. Their vitality is unquestionably their foremost feature and stays in our mind’s eye for long after we have left them behind.”
Below – “Paris Streets”; “Coffee Break”; “Quartet”; from “Paris Series”; “Paris Streets.”
Musings in December: D.H. Lawrence
“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.”
Canadian Art – Brian Porter
In the words of one writer, “Brian Porter, originally a graffiti artist, evolved his style from the street to the gallery. His paintings are explosively coloured and often portray Canadian wildlife.”
Below – “Bear”; “Wolf”; “Horse”; “Owl”; “Moose”; “Buffalo.”
Musings in December: Matthew Scully
“Though reason must guide us in laying down standards and laws regarding animals, and in examining the arguments of those who reject such standards, it is usually best in any moral inquiry to start with the original motivation, which in the case of animals we may without embarrassment call love. Human beings love animals as only the higher love the lower, the knowing love the innocent, and the strong love the vulnerable. When we wince at the suffering of animals, that feeling speaks well of us even when we ignore it, and those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity.”
American Art – Part I of IV: Frank Weston Benson(1862-1951)
In the words of one writer, “Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Frank W. Benson’s professional life was centered in Boston where he attended the Museum School before going to Paris in the fall of 1883 to study at the Académie Julian under Jules-Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. On his return to the United States in 1885, he worked for several years as a portraitist in Salem and as a teacher at the Portland [Maine] Society of Art.”
Below- “Woman in a Blue Kimono”; “Black Ducks Against Sky”; “November Day”; “Seven Ducks Landing”; “Geese Alighting.”
Musings in December: George Orwell
“Football, beer, and above all gambling, filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”
American Art – Part II of IV: David Brega
In the words of one writer, “David Brega is recognized today as one of the country’s foremost contemporary painters of still life. The hallmarks of his style are a taste for spare compositions that are structured from a simple yet powerful design sense, combined with visual richness of surface detail.”
Below – “Finial’s Rainbow”; “Apple Trio”; “Fall Light”; “Still Life with Red Bucket and Egg”; “Winslow House Winter Kitchen, Study.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Sara Teasdale
The door was opened and I saw you there
And for the first time heard you speak my name.
Then like the sun your sweetness overcame
My shy and shadowy mood; I was aware
That joy was hidden in your happy hair,
And that for you love held no hint of shame;
My eyes caught light from yours, within whose flame
Humor and passion have an equal share.
How many times since then have I not seen
Your great eyes widen when you talk of love,
And darken slowly with a fair desire;
How many times since then your soul has been
Clear to my gaze as curving skies above,
Wearing like them a raiment made of fire.
Musings in December: Jack Gilbert
“We are a singularity that makes music out of noise because we must hurry. We make a harvest of loneliness and desiring in the blank wasteland of the cosmos.”
American Art – Part III of IV: Miriam Briks
In the words of one writer, “Miriam Briks was born in Wroclaw, Poland. Raised in New York, she graduated from the School of Art and Design and studied figurative painting and drawing extensively at the Art Students League of New York. For the next six years she worked as an illustrator and art teacher in Los Angeles and Florence, Italy. She also continued her studies at the Academy of Art in Sienna. Originally trained in classical art, she began exhibiting her work in Paris, Italy and England.
Upon her return to the United States in 1986, she took up residence in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Here she began the gestural strokes, inspired greatly by the artists Sargent, Chase, Sorolla, and Zorn.
Portraying through rich colors and textures, her style of painting gently blends strong knowledge of the figure with classical impressionism. Briks strives to create paintings that evoke emotion and atmosphere, where the viewer is drawn into the beauty and mood of the moment.”
A Third Poem for Today
By Jane Hirshfield
An extra day—
Like the painting’s fifth cow,
who looks out directly,
straight toward you,
from inside her black and white spots.
An extra day—
the made calendar stumbling over the real
as a drunk trips over a threshold
too low to see.
An extra day—
With a second cup of black coffee.
A friendly but businesslike phone call.
A mailed-back package.
Some extra work, but not too much—
just one day’s worth, exactly.
An extra day—
Not unlike the space
between a door and its frame
when one room is lit and another is not,
and one changes into the other
as a woman exchanges a scarf.
An extra day—
Extraordinarily like any other.
there is some generosity to it,
like a letter re-readable after its writer has died.
Musings in December: Gary Kowalski
“We are mortals all, human and nonhuman, bound in one fellowship of love and travail. No one escapes the fate of death. But we can, with caring, make our good-byes less tormented. If we broaden the circle of our compassion, life can be less cruel.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Stephan Bauman
Artist Statement: ”I was raised in Miami, FL and now live and work in Florence Italy. I teach painting and drawing at the Florence Academy of Art, under the direction of Daniel Graves.”