From the Pacific Northwest – Part LIX

Musings in Winter: Pietro Aretino

“And there is quite a different sort of conversation around a fire than there is in the shadow of a beech tree…. Four dry logs have in them all the circumstance necessary to a conversation of four or five hours, with chestnuts on the plate and a jug of wine between the legs. Yes, let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.”


Art for Winter – Part I of IV: Sabina

Below – “Sun Flowers”


A Poem for Today

By Todd Boss
“I Love the Hour Just Before”

a party. Everybody
at home getting
ready. Pulling
on boots, fixing
their hair, planning
what to say if
she’s there, picking
a pluckier lipstick,
rehearsing a joke
with a stickpin
in it, doing
the last minute
fumbling one does
before leaving for
the night like
tying up the dog or
turning on the yard
light. I like to think
of them driving,
finding their way
in the dark, taking
this left, that right,
while I light candles,
start the music softly
seething. Everything
waiting. Even
the wine barely


Art for Winter – Part II of IV: Bill Saunders

Below – “A Day at the Beach”


Musings in Winter: Bertrand Russell

“When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning-rod, the clergy, both in England and America, with the enthusiastic support of George III, condemned it as an impious attempt to defeat the will of God. For, as all right-thinking people were aware, lightning is sent by God to punish impiety or some other grave sin—the virtuous are never struck by lightning. Therefore if God wants to strike any one, Benjamin Franklin [and his lightning-rod] ought not to defeat His design; indeed, to do so is helping criminals to escape. But God was equal to the occasion, if we are to believe the eminent Dr. Price, one of the leading divines of Boston. Lightning having been rendered ineffectual by the ‘iron points invented by the sagacious Dr. Franklin,’ Massachusetts was shaken by earthquakes, which Dr. Price perceived to be due to God’s wrath at the ‘iron points.’ In a sermon on the subject he said, ‘In Boston are more erected than elsewhere in New England, and Boston seems to be more dreadfully shaken. Oh! there is no getting out of the mighty hand of God.’ Apparently, however, Providence gave up all hope of curing Boston of its wickedness, for, though lightning-rods became more and more common, earthquakes in Massachusetts have remained rare.” (From “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish: A Hilarious Catalogue of Organized and Individual Stupidity”)


Canadian Art – Steve Tracy: Part I of II

In the words of one writer,”Steve Tracy was born in Santa Clara, California, in 1953, and grew up in Colorado and California. At the age of 10, he began painting with a set of hand-me-down oil paints. His education began at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He went on to graduate from the Colorado Institute of Art and furthered his studies in sculpting, design, drawing, illustration and commercial art. Steve also studied printmaking at California’s Kala Art Institute.” 

Below – “Granite Pine”; “Dragonfly Lake”; “Pine Stand”; “Indian Bath”; “Twilight Pine”; “Pines Alone”; “Shared Moment”; “Thompsons Woods.”









A Second Poem for Today

“Are You Going to Stay”
By Thomas Meyer

What was it I was going to say?
Slipped away probably because
it needn’t be said. At that edge
almost not knowing but second
guessing the gain, loss, or effect
of an otherwise hesitant remark.
Slant of light on a brass box. The way
a passing thought knots the heart.
There’s nothing, nothing to say.


Musings in Winter: Thomas Wentworth Higginson

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!”


Art for Winter – Part III of IV: Karolina Sussland

Below – “In Search of 1”


Musings in Winter: Peggy Noonan

“You don’t have to be old in America to say of a world you lived in: That world is gone.”


Canadian Art – Steve Tracy: Part II of II

In the words of one writer, “Currently, Steve lives in London Ontario where he has donated his time to a recent public art endeavor in the downtown core. ‘I have great interest in London and want to see it thrive’ he says, ‘I want to help the London core to be brilliant and revived – with glorious retail, thriving businesses and healthy lifestyles.’ Steve was also commissioned to paint one of the 12 violins for Orchestra London’s “Painted Violins: Strung out on the Arts” soirée at the Museum of London.” 

Below – “Habberlys Flats”; “Falcon Pools”; “Lapis Lake”; “North Rockies”; “Rosalinda”; “Wet Lands”; “Bear Creek”; “Lands End.”









A Third Poem for Today

By Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.


Musings in Winter: Gustave Flaubert

“Are the days of winter sunshine just as sad for you, too? When it is misty, in the evenings, and I am out walking by myself, it seems to me that the rain is falling through my heart and causing it to crumble into ruins.”


Ukrainian Art – Victor Tkachenko

In the words of one writer, “Born September, 1960 in Krivoy Rog, Ukraine. Professionally trained from an early age and one of few graduates to have completed the extensive and rigorous program from the well-renowned Art School in Krivoy Rog. Victor is a graduate of the Kiev University of Architecture and Engineering with additional doctoral experience. He has participated in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Ukraine, Moscow, and the United States. Works are in private collections and across the United States, Ukraine, Germany, France, Japan and Canada.”

Below – “Narcissus”; “New Dress for Marilyn”; “Good News”; “Storm Whisperer”; “Pigmaliona and Galatey”; “Beauty and the Beast.”







A Fourth Poem for Today

By Sharon Olds

(Ruth Stone, June 8, 1915 – November 19, 2011)

And suddenly, it’s today, it’s this morning
they are putting Ruth into the earth,
her breasts going down, under the hill,
like the moon and sun going down together.
O I know, it’s not Ruth—what was Ruth
went out, slowly, but this was her form,
beautiful and powerful
as the old, gorgeous goddesses who were
terrible, too, not telling a lie
for anyone—and she’d been left here so long, among
mortals, by her mate—who could not,
one hour, bear to go on being human.
And I’ve gone a little crazy myself
with her going, which seems to go against logic,
the way she has always been there, with her wonder, and her
generousness, her breasts like two
voluptuous external hearts.
I am so glad she kept them, all
her life, and she got to be buried in them—
she 96, and they
maybe 82, each, which is
164 years
of pleasure and longing. And think of all
the poets who have suckled at her riskiness, her
risque, her body politic, her
outlaw grace! What she came into this world with,
with a mew and cry, she gave us. In her red
sweater and her red hair and her raw
melodious Virginia crackle,
she emptied herself fully out
into her songs and our song-making,
we would not have made our songs without her.
O dear one, what is this? You are not a child,
though you dwindled, you have not retraced your path,
but continued to move straight forward to where
we will follow you, radiant mother. Red Rover, cross over.

Below – Ruth Stone, American poet, author, and teacher.



Musings in Winter: Elizabeth Gilbert

“Writers like Jack Kerouac (who called himself an ‘urban Thoreau’) set forth to redefine and rediscover ways to live in America without slogging through what Kerouac called the endless system of ‘work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume.’”


Art for Winter – Part IV of IV: Charles Bittinger

Below – “Daydreaming”


A Fifth Poem for Today

“My World Within”
By Erin Hanson

How can you say you know me,
When you’ve only seen my skin,
And not the untamed world I hide,
That’s growing deep within,
You haven’t heard my ribs all creak,
Behind each plaited vine, 
Or swum beneath the waterfall,
That cascades down my spine,
You’ve not been here for long enough,
To watch a new life start,
Or find the run-down castle,
Lying just inside my heart,
You haven’t climbed the branches,
That are wrapped around each lung,
Swaying with the breezes,
That come dancing past my tongue,
Don’t mark me with your footprints,
If you plan to leave too soon,
And only want to know me,
When my plants are all in bloom,
Because the birdsong might be pretty,
But it’s not for you they sing,
And if you think my winter is too cold,
You don’t deserve my spring.


American Art – Part I of III: John F. Carlson

In the words of one writer, “While he proclaimed that art could not be taught, but only learned through practice, John F. Carlson, nonetheless, was one of the most important teachers of landscape painting in the early decades of the twentieth century. He was born in a tiny town on the eastern coast of Sweden and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1884. In 1902, he found his way to the Art Students League in New York, where he studied painting with Frank V. DuMond and Birge Harrison. The following year, Harrison joined the teaching staff at Byrdcliffe, a newly-founded arts and crafts community in Woodstock, New York, and Carlson followed.”

Below –  “Mountain Hamlet”; “Winter Morning”; “Across the Bay”; “Summer Night, Woodstock, New York”; “Spring Woods”; “Silvered Brook.”







Musings in Winter: Robert Stone

“But Moby-Dick is the explanation of America. It’s not just a novel. It is a book of prophecy. It is the book. It is the book of America.”


A Sixth Poem for Today

“Horses in Snow”
By Roberta Hill

They are a gift I have wanted again.
Wanted: One moment in mountains
when winter got so cold
the oil froze before it could burn.
I chopped ferns of hoarfrost from all the windows
and peered up at pines, a wedding cake
by a baker gone mad. Swirls by the thousand
shimmered above me until a cloud
lumbered over a ridge,
bringing the heavier white of more flurries.

I believed, I believed, I believed
it would last, that when you went out
to test the black ice or to dig out a Volkswagon
filled with rich women, you’d return
and we’d sputter like oil,
match after match, warm in the making.
Wisconsin’s flat farmland never approved:
I hid in cornfields far into October,
listening to music that whirled from my thumbprint.
When sunset played havoc with bright leaves of alders,

I never mentioned longing or fear.
I crouched like a good refugee in brown creeks
and forgot why Autumn is harder than Spring.
But snug on the western slope of that mountain
I’d accept every terror, break open seals
to release love’s headwaters to unhurried sunlight.
Weren’t we Big Hearts? Through some trick of silver
we held one another, believing each motion the real one,
ah, lover, why were dark sources bundled up
in our eyes? Each owned an agate,

marbled with anguish, a heart or its echo,
we hardly knew. Lips touching lips,
did that break my horizon
as much as those horses broke my belief?
You drove off and I walked the old road,
scolding the doubles that wanted so much.
The chestnut mare whinnied a cloud into scrub pine.
In a windless corner of a corral,
four horses fit like puzzle pieces.
Their dark eyes and lashes defined by the white.

The colt kicked his hind, loped from the fence.
The mares and a stallion galloped behind,
lifting and leaping, finding each other
in full accord with the earth and their bodies.
No harm ever touched them once they cut loose,
snorting at flurries falling again.
How little our chances for feeling ourselves.
They vanished so quickly—one flick of a tail.
Where do their mountains and moments begin?
I stood a long time in sharpening wind.


Musings in Winter: John Burroughs

“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ”


American Art – Part II of III: Johanna Harmon

In the words of one writer, “Johanna Harmon has been a student of life since her childhood in Arizona. To express her feelings about what she saw back then, she started drawing at age 7. Observations and emotions continue to be at the core of her paintings. Not only does she document the world around her, she also expresses her personal response to the glory of creation, whether exemplified by a dancer’s discipline and grace or by a child’s indulgence in the colors and fragrances of a secret garden.
Bringing to life a multi-dimensional person on a two-dimensional canvas requires mastery of the formal aspects of art. Harmon’s skills are both accurate and beautiful. Drawing has always been her passion, and for the past decade, she has succeeded in turning the power of color, light and shadow into effective tools that animate the stories on her canvas. Her sophisticated brushwork adds movement and energy to the surfaces of her paintings, especially the luscious, impastoed passages of oil pigments that contrast against thinner, more subtle applications.
As much as Harmon paints for the public, she also admits that for her, painting is a path of self-discovery. ‘To paint is to honor who I am, one brushstroke at a time,’ she says. Although she works very methodically, at some point, Harmon lets intuition reign. When that happens, she is at one with the canvas, which takes over, bringing the painter to the role of the observer once again.
In viewing Harmon’s paintings, one senses the reverence and compassion that first drew Harmon to the person. Her paintings record unique and individual moments in life, those fleeting seconds that add up to the magnificent, complex symphony we call life.”


Johanna Harmon _ paintings

Johanna Harmon _ paintings

Johanna Harmon _ paintings

Johanna Harmon _ paintings

Johanna Harmon _ paintings

Musings in Winter: Linda Hogan

“What finally turned me back toward the older traditions of my own [Chickasaw] and other Native peoples was the inhumanity of the Western world, the places–both inside and out–where the culture’s knowledge and language don’t go, and the despair, even desperation, it has spawned. We live, I see now, by different stories, the Western mind and the indigenous. In the older, more mature cultures where people still live within the kinship circles of animals and human beings there is a connection with animals, not only as food, but as ‘powers,’ a word which can be taken to mean states of being, gifts, or capabilities.
I’ve found, too, that the ancient intellectual traditions are not merely about belief, as some would say. Belief is not a strong enough word. They are more than that: They are part of lived experience, the on-going experience of people rooted in centuries-old knowledge that is held deep and strong, knowledge about the natural laws of Earth, from the beginning of creation, and the magnificent terrestrial intelligence still at work, an intelligence now newly called ecology by the Western science that tells us what our oldest tribal stories maintain–the human animal is a relatively new creation here; animal and plant presences were here before us; and we are truly the younger sisters and brothers of the other animal species, not quite as well developed as we thought we were. It is through our relationships with animals and plants that we maintain a way of living, a cultural ethics shaped from an ancient understanding of the world, and this is remembered in stories that are the deepest reflections of our shared lives on Earth.
That we held, and still hold, treaties with the animals and plant species is a known part of tribal culture. The relationship between human people and animals is still alive and resonant in the world, the ancient tellings carried on by a constellation of stories, songs, and ceremonies, all shaped by lived knowledge of the world and its many interwoven, unending relationships. These stories and ceremonies keep open the bridge between one kind of intelligence and another, one species and another.”


American Art – Part III of III: Holly Coulis

Holly Coulis earned a BFA in Fine Arts from Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto and an MFA in Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.










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