From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXXIV

Musings in Winter:J. B. Priestley

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, where is it to be found?”

Art for Winter – Part I of II: Marshall Jones (American, 19th C.)

Below – “Laundry”

A Poem for Today

“White Lobelia”
By Stephen Burt

Little megaphones,
we hang out in the garden center and gossip
with the petunias three seasons a year.
With leaves too small to resemble
thumbs or hands or hearts, too soft
for any parts
of our threadable stems to grow thorns,
we prefer to pretend we are horns,
cornets and alto sax, prepared to assemble
in studios and sightread any charts.
We are of course for sale
to generous homes. Some of us have become
almost overfamiliar with ornamental
cabbage, with the ins and outs of kale.
Others have lost our voice
in a painstaking effort to justify our existence
as a perennial second choice.
Like you, we dismiss whatever comes easiest
to us and overestimate what looks hard.
In our case that means we admire
our neighbors’ luxuriant spontaneities
and treat the most patient preparers with disregard.
We strive for contentment in our
hanging baskets once
we know we will not touch ground.
We tell ourselves
and one another that if you listen
with sufficient
generosity, you will be able
to hear our distinctive and natural sound.

Musings in Winter: Michael Crichton

“If nothing else, school teaches that there is an answer to every question; only in the real world do young people discover that many aspects of life are uncertain, mysterious, and even unknowable. If you have a chance to play in nature, if you are sprayed by a beetle, if the color of a butterfly’s wing comes off on your fingers, if you watch a caterpillar spin its cocoon– you come away with a sense of mystery and uncertainty. The more you watch, the more mysterious the natural world becomes, and the more you realize how little you know. Along with its beauty, you may also come to experience its fecundity, its wastefulness, aggressiveness, ruthlessness, parasitism, and its violence. These qualities are not well-conveyed in textbooks.”

Art for Winter – Part II of II: Lee Lufkin Kaula (American, 1865-1957)

Below – “Coreopsis and Larkspur”

Spanish Art – Deangel

Self-taught painter Deangel lives and works in Barcelona.

Musings in Winter: Carl Sagan

“Many religions have attempted to make statues of their gods very large, and the idea, I suppose, is to make us feel small. But if that’s their purpose, they can keep their paltry icons. We need only look up if we wish to feel small.”

A Second Poem for Today

“Road Trip”
By Vijay Seshyadri

I could complain. I’ve done it before.
I could explain. I could say, for instance, that
I’m sick of being slaughtered in my life’s mountain passes,
covering my own long retreat,
the rear guard of my own brutal defeat—
dysentery and frostbite and snipers,
the mules freezing to death,
blizzards whipping the famished fires until they expire, 
the pathetic mosquito notes of my horn . . .
But, instead, for once, I’m keeping quiet, and maybe tomorrow
or maybe the day after or maybe the day after that
I’m just going to drive away down the coast
and not come back.
I haven’t told anyone, and I won’t.
I won’t dim with words the radiance of my gesture.
And besides, the ones who care have guessed already.
Looking at them looking at me, I know they know
when they turn their backs I’ll go.
The secrets I was planning to floor them with?
They’re already packed in my trunk, in straw,
in a reinforced casket.
The bitter but herbal and medicinal truths I concocted
to revive them with?
Tomorrow or the day after or the day after that,
on the volcano beaches fringed with black sand
and heaped with tangled beds of kelp,
by the obsidian tide pools that cradle the ribbed limpet
and the rockbound star,
I’ll scatter those truths to the sea breezes,
and float the secrets on the waters that the moon
reels in and plays out,
reels in and plays out,
with a little votive candle burning on their casket,
and then I’ll just be there, in the sunset’s coppery sheen,
in the dawn pearled by discrete, oblong, intimate clouds
that move without desire or motive.
Look at the clouds. Look how close they are.

Musings in Winter: Dieter Braun

“Even if mankind can go on without them, a piece of our vibrantly diverse world dies along with each species.”

Turkish Art – Soner Cakmak

In the words of one writer, “Soner Çakmak was born in Sinop in 1976. He graduated from the Painting Department in the Faculty of Fine Arts at Marmara University in 2001. He has had several solo exhibitions and has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Turkey. He has received many awards. Currently, he continues to work in Istanbul.”

Musings in Winter: Rinsai Rossetti

“Pale sky, white land; like somewhere past the end of the world.”

A Third Poem for Today

By Nicole Callihan

Our paper house sat
on the banks of the red river
and though mother
wasn’t like other mothers
I was like other girls
trapped and lonely
and painting pictures
in the stars. I was slick
with old birth or early longing,
already halfway between
who I wanted to be and who I was.
Our floors were made of flame
but there was no wind
so we were as safe as anyone.
When spring came,
I walked for a very long time
up I-35, and at the end of the road,
I found a boy who placed earphones
onto my head and pumped opera
into my body. I can feel it still.
Underneath that treeless sky,
I was as changed as I would ever be.
Not even mother noticed.   

Musings in Winter: Thich Nhat Hanh

“A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.”

Greek Art – Christos Tsimaris

Artist Statement: “I usually like to paint portraits and figures, and regularly jump from representational to almost abstract, and from very disciplined and precise to very gestural, to almost messy.
I find that painting myself is a good way to use the studio and hone my skills between other works. I often spend endless hours in front of the mirror painting or drawing intensively myself, as I am, to quote Lucian Freud, ‘permanently available’.
Other times, I feel the need to become more abstract, and more intuitive, organising shape and colours with no specific aim. I am not trying to keep the two styles separate, nor am I trying to merge them, though both events can occasionally occur naturally. 
I tend to put multiple layers on my paintings, and quite often a painting is finished only because I stop working on it (although there is always a possibility that I will work on it again in the future). 
I welcome little accidents that can occur in the process, and try to use them to my advantage, sometimes even building the whole painting around them.
When I add a new layer, it is almost inevitable that I will scrape part of it off to reveal the previous layer, or even scrape the whole thing back. This process tends to reduce my pallet into grey muddy tones and sometimes demands more radical action such as rubbing raw pigment, cement powder, or other building materials like tile adhesive, onto the surface . This process gives me an instant dry surface which I can draw on, using a thick charcoal or a pallet knife. 
Quite often I use photographs that inspire me for some reason, but I won’t necessarily transfer the image directly to the canvas – they are merely the vessel that will initiate or ignite a painting, with the painting developing in to something independent of any emotional weight that may have triggered the initial reaction . My main aim is to explore how the painting is created in terms of structure, composition, colour and mark making, rather than focussing solely on what it represents.”

Musings in Winter: Germaine Greer

“Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark … In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

By Joseph O. Legaspi

Somewhere someone rises
far earlier than you before
the faintest glimmer blues
the darkest dark wakens
without alarm without body
roused by the nightingales
neighbor friend or stranger
who hasn’t seen his sunlit
children faces a cold sink
oh caffeinated sleepwalker
march daily industry with
necessity down one flight
then up two is heaven in
someone warm beside you

Musings in Winter: Rebecca Solnit

“The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.”

American Art – Part I of II: Scott Noel

In the words of one writer, “Scott Noel received his BFA from Washington University. He has had numerous one-person exhibitions in Philadelphia at the Gross McCleaf Gallery and at the More Gallery. His paintings are included in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy, the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the Arkansas Art Center and the Woodmere Museum. Reviews of and articles on his work have appeared in Art in America and American Artist and his paintings have been reproduced in New American Paintings. Scott Noel teaches painting at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.”

Musings in Winter Joseph Wood Krutch

“The snow itself is lonely or, if you prefer, self-sufficient. There is no other time when the whole world seems composed on one thing and one thing only.”

A Fifth Poem for Today

“And the Sea”
By Ryan Frank

Once, I wanted to be Hemingway.
But so did Hemingway. That act is hard—
dumb facts decked out as art, and anyway,
who gets what they want? And then who cares?
What matters when the water at your feet
is running out without you? I grew my beard
and bought a little boat on credit, named
it after myself and painted all of it blue,
then put us out to sea. And when it’s calm
and when the sun is out, we disappear.
We’re gone. What else was I supposed to do?

Musings in Winter: Tom Robbins

“There are landscapes in which we feel above us not sky but space. Something larger, deeper than sky is sensed, is seen, although in such settings the sky itself is invariably immense. There is a place between the cerebrum and the stars where sky stops and space commences, and should we find ourselves on a particular prairie or mountaintop at a particular hour, our relationship with sky thins and loosens while our connection to space becomes solid as bone.”

American Art – Part II of II: Rebecca Litt

Artist Statement: “Leggy, pot-bellied women and bearded, slouching men inhabit rooftops and partially-enclosed vacant lots in a city that closely resembles Brooklyn. They hide under bubble wrap, construct creaky forts out of warped boards and orange construction fence, and work industriously to erect flimsy barriers. What they are hiding from is not exactly clear, but clinging to permeable barriers, such as plastic netting and incomplete fences, offers at best a false sense of security.
Like characters in a novel, the people in my paintings unquestioningly accept absurd or unlikely situations as normal. The settings follow directly from the characters’ emotions; the compositios are as spatial visualization of the emotional boundaries people construct as they navigate interpersonal relationships. My frequent consumption of fiction influences the way I think about art making. I want my paintings to have a novelistic, artificial quality, rather than be tied to fact and first-person perception in the manner of a documentary or a memoir. Thus, although there is a degree of naturalism in some of the details, the work depicts an invented, introspective world; a fictionalized autobiography loosely inspired by my own experiences.
I work mainly from my imagination, with the help of mirrors, studies from life, and photographs. I usually start by drawing improvisationally, letting the imagery evolve organically and spontaneously. The drawings suggest a loose narrative for the paintings, which together form a series of related vignettes about the same or similar characters. I often play around with negative and positive space, painstakingly painting imagery glimpsed through a construction fence square by square in order to preserve the brilliance of thinly-painted orange in the foreground.”

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