From the Pacific Northwest – Part LV

Musings in Winter: Dean Koontz

“Even as a child, she had preferred night to day, had enjoyed sitting out in the yard after sunset, under the star-speckled sky listening to frogs and crickets. Darkness soothed. It softened the sharp edges of the world, toned down the too-harsh colors. With the coming of twilight, the sky seemed to recede; the universe expanded. The night was bigger than the day, and in its realm, life seemed to have more possibilities.”

Art for Winter – Part I of III: Theodore V. C. Valenkamph (American, 1868-1924)

Below – “Schooners Sailing in Winter”

Musings in Winter: Walter Moers

“On horseback you feel as if you’re moving in time to classical music; a camel seems to progress to the beat of a drum played by a drunk.”

Art for Winter – Part II of III: Robert Vickrey (American, 1926-2001)

Below – “Cassandra in the Rain”; “Santorini Cat.”

A Poem for Today

“Dark Matter and Dark Energy”
By Alicia Ostriker

My husband says dark matter is a reality
not just some theory invented by adolescent computers
he can prove it exists and is everywhere

forming invisible haloes around everything
and somehow because of gravity
holding everything loosely together

the way a child wants to escape its parents
and doesn’t want to—what’s that—
we don’t know what it is but we know it is real

the way our mothers and fathers fondly
angrily followed fixed orbits around
each other like mice on a track

the way every human and every atom
rushes through space wrapped in its invisible
halo, this big shadow—that’s dark dark matter

sweetheart, while the galaxies
in the wealth of their ferocious protective bubbles
stare at each other

unable to cease

Musings in Winter: P.S. Baber

“You can never really escape. It goes with you, wherever you go. Somehow, the prairie dust gets in your blood, and it flows through your veins until it becomes a part of you. The vast stretches of empty fields, the flat horizons of treeless plains. The simplicity of the people—good, earnest people. The way they talk and the way they live. The lack of occurrence, lack of attention, lack of everything. All that—it’s etched into your soul and it colors the way you see everything and it becomes a part of you. Eventually, Ms. Harper, when you leave, everything you experience outside of Kansas will be measured against all you know here. And none of it will make any sense.”

Art for Winter – Part III of III: Harry Aiken Vincent (American, 1864-1931)

Below – “The Harbor, Gloucester, Massachusetts”

Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy

“I read in the papers here a while back some teachers came across a survey that was sent out back in the thirties to a number of schools around the country. Had this questionnaire about what was the problems with teachin in the schools. And they come across these forms, they’d been filled out and sent in from around the country answerin these questions. And the biggest problems they could name was things like talkin in class and runnin in the hallways. Chewin gum. Copyin homework. Things of that nature. So they got one of them forms that was blank and printed up a bunch of em and sent em back out to the same schools. Forty years later. Well, here come the answers back. Rape, arson, murder. Drugs. Suicide. So think about that. Because a lot of the time when I say anything about how the world is goin to hell in a handbasket people will just sort of smile and tell me I’m gettin old. That it’s one of the symptoms. But my feelin about that is that anybody that cant tell the difference between rapin and murderin people and chewin gum has got a whole lot bigger of a problem than what I’ve got. Forty years is not a long time neither. Maybe the next forty of it will bring some of em out from under the ether. If it aint too late.”

Canadian Art – Patricia Pepin: Part I of II

In the words of one writer, “Self-taught, artist Patricia Pepin was born in Quebec in 1964. She never studied art or planned to become an artist; it was just ‘a happy accident,’ and over the years, her career has evolved. At the age of nine, she began painting with oils. In her late teens and early twenties, Pepin groomed horses, and because she grew so fond of them, they became her favorite subjects to paint. She later etched portraits on funeral monuments before she turned to painting full-time. In 1996, her career as a wildlife artist began. Having since spent countless hours observing nature, she has honed her finely tuned powers of observation. This is evidenced by her inclusion of details such as the expression in the eyes of her wildlife subjects. Intrigued by the effect of light and shadows, Pepin also loves to paint water plants and their reflections.”

Below – “Fish Dreamers”; “Wet Kiss”; “Flying Solo”; “Star Fish”; “Muddy Water”; “Evening Repose.”

A Second Poem for Today

“What Came to Me”
By Jane Kenyon

I took the last
dusty piece of china
out of the barrel.
It was your gravy boat,
with a hard, brown
drop of gravy still
on the porcelain lip.
I grieved for you then
as I never had before.

Musings in Winter: Chief Luther Standing Bear

“The character of the Indian’s emotion left little room in his heart for antagonism toward his fellow creatures …. For the Lakota (one of the three branches of the Sioux Nation), mountains, lakes, rivers, springs, valleys, and the woods were all in finished beauty. Winds, rain, snow, sunshine, day, night, and change of seasons were endlessly fascinating. Birds, insects, and animals filled the world with knowledge that defied the comprehension of man.
The Lakota was a true naturalist – a lover of Nature. He loved the earth and all things of the earth, and the attachment grew with age. The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.
It was good for the skin to touch the earth, and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.
Their tipis were built upon the earth and their alters were made of earth. The birds that flew in the air came to rest upon the earth, and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew. The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing.
This is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its live giving forces. For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him.”

Below – Karl Bodmer: “Funeral of a Sioux Chief”

Canadian Art – Patricia Pepin: Part II of II

Artist Statement: “I try to do whatever comes naturally and not think too much about the style or technique…I studied color, but now I try to paint what I see and what I feel. I’m a perfectionist — I don’t think about what’s wrong or right. I follow my instincts. If it feels good, it’s the right way for me.”

Below – “Takhi”; “Mac Arthur Beach”; “Snooze”; “Little Moon”; “Yellow Beret”; “Wood Ducks in Pickerel Weed”; “Baby White Mouse.”

A Third Poem for Today

By Thomas Lux
“Gradeschool’s Large Windows”

weren’t built to let the sunlight in.
They were large to let the germs out.
When polio, which sounds like the first dactyl
of a jump rope song, was on the rage,
you did not swim in public waters.
The awful thing was an iron lung.
We lined up in our underwear to get the shot.
Some kids fainted, we all were stung.
My cousin Speed sat in a vat
of ice cubes until his scarlet fever waned,
but from then on his heart was not the same.
My friend’s girlfriend was murdered in a hayfield
by two guys from Springfield.
Linda got a bad thing in her blood.
Everybody’s grandmother died.
Three times, I believe, Bobby shot his mother.
Rat poison took a beloved local bowler.
A famous singer sent condolences.
In the large second floor corner room
of my 4th grade class the windows were open.
Snow, in fat, well-fed flakes
floats in where they and the chalk-motes meet.
And the white rat powder, too, sifts down
into a box of oatmeal
on the shelf below.

Musings in Winter: Allen J. Hamilton

“I was drawn to horses as if they were magnets. It was in my blood. I must have inherited from my grandfather a genetic proclivity toward the equine species. Perhaps there’s a quirk in the DNA that makes horse people different from everyone else, that instantly divides humanity into those who love horses and the others, who simply don’t know.”

American Art – Part I of II: Vic Payne

In the words of one writer, “Noted western sculptor and artist, Vic Payne has been sculpting for over 35 years.  He was born in 1960 to sculptor Ken and Priscilla Payne. Moving to a ranch in New Mexico instilled in Vic the roots of the West and became central in the shaping of this sculptor’s character. His families’ ranching heritage, tales of Billy the Kid, the Lincoln County Wars, pictures of paintings and bronzes by Charlie Russell and Frederic Remington made the ‘Old West’ come alive and inspired Vic to try his own hand at sculpting.”

Below – “Call of the Greasy Grass”; “By the Cover of Moonlight”; “A Leaf on a Stream”; “Overland Express”; “The North Winds of Chisholm”; “Keeper of the Homeland.”

Musings in Winter: Alan Moore

“All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.”

American Art – Part II of II: Mark Pettit

In the words of one writer, “An intense childhood interest in drawing and painting gave Mark Pettit an early start in the pursuit of becoming an artist, but there was little in his early efforts to suggest that he would attain his current level of success so early in his career. By devoting his efforts to fine art, Pettit, a native of Texas, was able to study privately with notable artists who influenced his direction and techniques. He went on to study at the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, Maryland, a school devoted to the teachings of Jaques Maroger, author of ‘The Secret Formulas and Techniques of the Old Masters’.”

Below – “Spring Snow on Pyramid Peak”; “Bear Mountain”; “Light on the Lake”; “French Pitcher with Lady Apples”; “Touring the Grand Canal”; “Casa Toscana.”

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