From the Pacific Northwest – Part L

Musings in Winter: Kimberly Novosei

“On day one of the drive, I saw my first dome sky. The world was so flat that I could see the level horizon all around me and the sky looked like a dome. Skies like that will give you perspective when nothing else will. The second day, a tumbleweed blew across the interstate. I’m in a western movie, I said to myself, laughing. I found it so much easier to laugh now that this weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Chauncey Foster Ryder (American, 1868-1949)

Below – “Vesper’s Ledge, New Hampshire”

A Poem for Today

“A Small Needful Fact”
By Ross Gay

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Jeannette Scott (Canadian, 1864-1937)

Below – “The Apartment Window”

Musings in Winter: Paul Theroux

“Home is always the impossible subject, multilayered and maddening.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Millard Owen Sheets (American, 1907-1989)

Below – “Man with Boys on Horses, Fiji”

A Second Poem for Today

“The Oak”
By Letitia Elizabeth Landon
. . . It is the last survivor of a race
Strong in their forest-pride when I was young.
I can remember when, for miles around,
In place of those smooth meadows and corn-fields,
There stood ten thousand tall and stately trees,
Such as had braved the winds of March, the bolt
Sent by the summer lightning, and the snow
Heaping for weeks their boughs. Even in the depth
Of hot July the glades were cool; the grass,
Yellow and parched elsewhere, grew long and fresh,
Shading wild strawberries and violets,
Or the lark’s nest; and overhead the dove
Had her lone dwelling, paying for her home
With melancholy songs; and scarce a beech
Was there without a honeysuckle linked
Around, with its red tendrils and pink flowers;
Or girdled by a brier-rose, whose buds
Yield fragrant harvest for the honey-bee
There dwelt the last red deer, those antler’d kings . . .
But this is as dream,—the plough has pass’d
Where the stag bounded, and the day has looked
On the green twilight of the forest-trees.
This oak has no companion! . . . . 

Musings in Winter: Carl Safina

“Another big group of dolphins had just surfaced alongside our moving vessel—leaping and splashing and calling mysteriously back and forth in their squeally, whistly way, with many babies swift alongside their mothers. And this time, confined to just the surface of such deep and lovely lives, I was becoming unsatisfied. I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so—close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that was forbidden fruit: Who are you? Science usually steers firmly from questions about the inner lives of animals. Surely they have inner lives of some sort. But like a child who is admonished that what they really want to ask is impolite, a young scientist is taught that the animal mind—if there is such—is unknowable. Permissible questions are “it” questions: where it lives; what it eats; what it does when danger threatens; how it breeds. But always forbidden—always forbidden—is the one question that might open the door: “Who?””

British Art – Helen Flockhart

Artist Statement: “Probably the easiest way of shedding some light on the thinking behind my paintings is to touch on the process from which they evolve.
The pictures emerge from an instinctive process which is initially quite abstract, beginning as tiny, almost geometric studies in which the relationship between shapes and the space which they inhabit is pushed around. From there, the figure is fleshed out and other compositional elements suggest themselves. Sometimes autobiographical, but just as often mythical or invented scenarios are woven in. I edge towards what feels like the finished idea, which it seems is already sitting somewhere just out of reach, not yet seen. At this stage the work is still on paper and tiny and holds an energy and immediacy which I try not to lose in the execution of the painting, especially the drawing of the face which is key. It may only be a few millimetres in size but is central to the success of the painting.
The paintings more or less fall into two categories – portrait format and landscape format. The portraits are a form to which I keep returning and are a crucial anchor point. They have evolved over the years but essentially deal with the relationship between myself and the outside world. Around 20 years ago they were scrunched, retracted figures exposing the minimum surface area possible to the viewer and enveloped by a luminous black background. Now they are at full stretch but the background is dense and opaque, cluttered with pattern or texture. I wish the figure to seem enclosed by the background as if it were a three dimensional positive form, not a flat surface in front of which the figure stands. Detail on the clothing, such as beading or lacework, serves the function of both embellishment and something akin to armour.
The landscapes spring from a place between the world we know and another, on the edge of conciousness. They allow me to plunder the realm of the imagination and also to indulge my passion for plants which I grow, covet, study and paint. And occasionally invent if the plant I require does not exist.
Many of the paintings employ repetition as a device as with, for example, the plants, patterns, textures and grass. I like the rhythm and hypnotic quality which results and this repetition can be both reassuring and menacing. In all of the work I’m constantly pushing and pulling the elements to create, for example, tension or harmony, a clash or dischord. But always, according to my own particular criteria, I strive to create a beautiful object and to communicate my experience of the human condition.”

A Third Poem for Today

“Herb Garden”
By Timothy Steele

“And these, small, unobserved . . . ” —Janet Lewis

The lizard, an exemplar of the small,
Spreads fine, adhesive digits to perform
Vertical push-ups on a sunny wall;
Bees grapple spikes of lavender, or swarm
The dill’s gold umbels and low clumps of thyme.
Bored with its trellis, a resourceful rose
Has found a nearby cedar tree to climb
And to festoon with floral furbelows.

Though the great, heat-stunned sunflower looks half-dead
The way it, shepherd’s crook-like, hangs its head,
The herbs maintain their modest self-command:
Their fragrances and colors warmly mix
While, quarrying between the pathway’s bricks,
Ants build minute volcanoes out of sand.

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“At one time in the world there were woods that no one owned.”

American Art – Part I of II: Robert L. Hunt

In the words of one writer, “After graduating from Penn State with an engineering degree in 1963 Hunt worked in the aerospace industry and then his own businesses for 26 years. As a self-taught artist, during that time he continuously enjoyed oil painting as an avocation. In 1989 his wife Beverly encouraged him to turn his creative efforts into a full time living as a professional painter working in oil on canvas. Nearly 20 years later, Robert is enjoying national recognition as a representational historic artist working in the realism style. Subjects are thoroughly researched for accuracy using resources such as the National Archives in Washington DC as well as other trusted sources.”

Below – “Breakdown”; “Storm Warning”; “Comanche”; “Roughnecks #1”; “Messinian Sun”; “Oil Field Cowboys.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“Park Going to Sleep”
By Helen Hoyt

The shadows under the trees
And in the vines by the boat-house
Grow dark,
And the lamps gleam softly.

On the street, far off,
The sound of the cars, rumbling,
Moves drowsily.
The rocks grow dim on the edges of the shore.

The boats with tired prows against the landing
Have fallen asleep heavily:
The monuments sleep
And the trees
And the smooth slow-winding empty paths sleep.

Musings in Winter: Helen Oyeymi

“It was snowing when I got off the bus at Flax Hill. Not quite regular snowfall, not exactly a blizzard. This is how it was: The snow came down heavily, settled for about a minute, then the wind moved it – more rolled it, really – onto another target. One minute you were covered in snow, then it sped off sideways, as if a brisk, invisible giant had taken pity and brushed you down.”

American Art – Part II of II: Mark James

In the words of one writer, “A Western Outdoorsman, Mark James of Wyoming, has spent the best part of his life living and working in the high country of the Rocky Mountains. An Elk Hunting Guide in his earlier days, his passion for the wilderness and all it has to teach him is now expertly expressed in his art. A Naturalist, Mark continues to spend much of each fall alone in the wilderness of Wyoming fine tuning his senses to the sights, scents, and sounds of the mountains, sharing the experience with the creatures that live there, while renewing his inspiration to create outdoor themes that tell the story of the heritage of the American West.”

Below – “Spirit Wolf”; “The Huntress”; “Settled on Past Glory”; “Echoes at Sundown”; “White Man Is As Grass”; “Distant Hope.”

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