Musings in Winter: Machado de Assis
“To him the stars seemed like so many musical notes affixed to the sky, just waiting for somebody to unfasten them. Someday the sky would be emptied, but by then the earth would be a constellation of musical scores.”
Art for Winter – Part I of II: Theodore Wendel (American, 1859-1932)
Below – “Gloucester Harbor, Massachusetts”; “Lobster Shacks.”
Musings in Winter: Clara Kensie
“Some stories won’t have a happy ending, but there’s always hope that the next one will. Hope is everything. Even when there’s nothing else. Especially when there’s nothing else.”
Art for Winter – Part II of II: George A. Williams (American, 1875-1932)
Below – “Boatyard, Kennebunkport”
A Poem for Today
“Now that no one is looking”
By Adam Kirsch
Now that no one looking at the night—
Sky blanked by leakage from electric lamps
And headlights prowling through the parking lot
Could recognize the Babylonian dance
That once held every gazer; now that spoons
And scales, and swordsmen battling with beasts
Have decomposed into a few stars strewn
Illegibly across an empty space,
Maybe the old unfalsifiable
Predictions and extrapolated spheres
No longer need to be an obstacle
To hearing what it is the stars declare:
That there are things created of a size
We can’t and weren’t meant to understand,
As fish know nothing of the sun that writes
Its bright glyphs on the black waves overhead.
Musings in Winter: Mark Van Steenwyk
“Humans don’t just kill to survive. Sometimes, they kill out of rage. And they don’t just eat to survive; sometimes, they eat when their belly is already full. They are violent and greedy. They aren’t like any of the other beasts in the forest; they want to own it all.”
Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of III: Alexey Chernigan
In the words of one writer, “In most of his paintings, Alexey Chernigin uses oil on canvas to capture beauty, romance, and moments of true feeling. Alexey Chernigin inherited his talent and passion for art from his father, the famous Russian artist Alexander Chernigin. Every year, they hold a joint exhibition in their native Nizhny Novgorod.”
Below – “Summer”; “The Kiss”; “The Sea.”
A Second Poem for Today
By Wyn Cooper
Imagine you’re on Mars, looking at earth,
a swirl of colors in the distance.
Tell us what you miss most, or least.
Let your feelings rise to the surface.
Skim that surface with a tiny net.
Now you’re getting the hang of it.
Tell us your story slantwise,
streetwise, in the disguise
of an astronaut in his suit.
Tell us something we didn’t know
before: how words mean things
we didn’t know we knew.
Musings in Winter: Kaman Kojouri
“Isn’t it strange that
in order to be happy
we have to ignore
all the sadness in the world
at that moment? That we
have to forget the ballooned
bellies of children that are dark
and empty inside. That not too far
from our homes, women sleep on
cardboard and are grateful for the
bitter wind because at least it’s not
rain. That there are teenagers
taught to avoid eye contact
so their fingers are quicker on the trigger
but whose nightmares eventually compel them
to pull the trigger on themselves. That there
are battered dogs with skin taut like a drum,
ribs jutting out, their eyes so beautiful
it makes all the men cry.
Isn’t it strange that in order to be happy
we have to unremember a lot of
what we already know?
I still don’t believe that sadness is our
natural disposition. Because there is
so much to be done. So many to help.
Maybe we aren’t meant to be happy
in spite of all the sadness.
it is a call for us to help others
Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of III: Konstantin Lupanov
In the words of one writer, “This young and incredibly talented artist from Krasnodar calls his paintings ‘fun and irresponsible garbage’. Konstantin Lupanov paints what he loves. The primary subjects of his paintings are his friends, acquaintances, relatives, and his beloved cat, Philip. The simpler the subject, says the artist, the truer the painting.”
Below – “Painting”; “Painting” “Painting”; “Self-Portrait in Royal Style.”
A Third Poem for Today
“Watch the Film You Paid to See”
By Todd Colby
In my bedroom my weight is three times more
than what I’d weigh on Jupiter.
If your kitchen was on Mercury I’d be heavier by half
of you while sitting at your table.
On Uranus, a quarter of my weight is meat,
or an awareness of myself as flesh.
On Venus the light would produce a real volume around me
that would make me look happy in photographs.
This is how it is with quantity in any life. It’s a fact
that on certain planets I’d actually be able to mount
the stairs four at a time. Think of the most beautiful horse
in the world: a ridiculously beautiful golden horse,
with a shimmering coat; it would weigh no more
than an empty handbag on Mars. You need
to get real about these things.
Musings in Winter: Roger Zelazny
“I watched the spinning stars, grateful, sad and proud, as only a man who has outlived his destiny and realizes he might yet forge himself another, can be.”
Contemporary Russian Art – Part III of III: Stanislav Plutenko
In the words of one writer, “Stanislav Plutenko’s creative motto is: “To see the unusual and to do the unusual.” This Moscow artist uses a unique technique, combining tempera, acrylic, watercolor, and a very thin glaze applied by airbrush. Stanislav Plutenko has been rated among the top 1000 surrealists of all time.”
Below – “The Manager of the Universe”; “A City of One Fisherman”; “Provincial Casanova”; “The Bothersome Dragonflies.”
A Fourth Poem for Today
By Rita Dove
I work a lot and live far less than I could,
but the moon is beautiful and there are
blue stars . . . . I live the chaste song of my heart.
—Garcia Lorca to Emilia Llanos Medinor, November 25, 1920
The moon is in doubt
over whether to be
a man or a woman.
There’ve been rumors,
all manner of allegations,
bold claims and public lies:
He’s belligerent. She’s in a funk.
When he fades, the world teeters.
When she burgeons, crime blossoms.
O how the operatic impulse wavers!
Dip deep, my darling, into the blank pool.
Musings in Winter: Chloe Thurlow
“I have never had more pleasure than riding a horse naked at a fast gallop across an empty landscape. Riding is life. They rest is just pedestrian.”
Below – Georges Jules Bertrand (French, 1849-1929): “Horse with Nude Woman”
American Art – Part I of IV: John Ferguson Weir
In the words of one writer, “Born in West Point, New York, in 1841, John Ferguson Weir’s artistic journey began under the tutelage of his father Robert W. Weir, the much revered drawing instructor at the Military Academy, whose personal diligence and passion for teaching would inspire his son’s eventual career path. His father’s art program and the mountainous environs of West Point were invaluable resources for the young artist. He wandered through the familiar landscape making botanical sketches, and his earliest paintings captured the grandeur of the Hudson River, though usually done in a smaller format and sold to acquaintances from the Academy as mementos of their time there. In 1861, Weir’s education was cut short by a brief month-long enlistment during the Civil War, but in the fall of 1862, he departed his family home in West Point for the bustling art center of New York City, taking up residence at the Tenth Street Studio Building and hoping for success in his chosen field.
Like many of his contemporaries, Weir wished to sail abroad to further his artistic experience. Leaving his New York studio in the capable hands of his younger half-brother, the artist Julian Alden Weir, John and Mary arrived in England in December of 1868. Their travels eventually brought them to Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Belgium, before departing for home in August 1869. The sketches he made in Europe resulted in several finished compositions that were exhibited and later sold to private collectors.
Before departing for Europe in 1868, Weir received an offer to become a Professor and Director of the newly founded Yale School of Fine Arts, the first art school in the country associated with an established university. He worried being away from New York might hinder his professional success, but ultimately accepted the position, deciding, like his father, that teaching art was a noble pursuit. Taking up residence in New Haven in the fall of 1869, Weir was free to design the curriculum to his liking and despite little financial aid and years of opposition from the larger Yale community, he managed to build the school into one of the most respected in the nation by the time of his retirement in 1913, after forty-four years at the helm. While at Yale, Weir continued to send work to New York for exhibition and remained in contact with his Tenth Street Studios friends. In a departure from his earlier industrial works, his choice in topics ranged from the surrounding landscape of New Haven to more intimate figural interiors and even still life, the latter subject taken up in the early 1880s.
Over the years, Weir made several return trips to Europe and also visited Julian’s farm in Branchville, Connecticut, a place of respite and inspiration for the brothers and their artist friends. He also began taking on portrait commissions for persons associated with Yale and experimented with sculpture, completing several life-sized statues of Yale luminaries for the school. After his retirement in 1913, John and Mary Weir moved to Providence, Rhode Island, to be closer to his daughter Edith Dean Weir and her family. Though his eyesight and health were failing, he rented a studio and joined the Providence Art Club, eager to stay engaged with the creative community. John Ferguson Weir passed away in April of 1926 and was buried in New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery.”
Below – “Lake Leman (Lake Geneva), Switzerland”; “The Rest, his Daughter Edith”; “Farmyard at Branchville, Connecticut”; “Lago Maggiore, Italy”; “The Farm, Branchville, Connecticut”; “Still Life with Pink and White Peonies.”
A Fifth Poem for Today
[“Do you still remember: falling stars”]
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Do you still remember: falling stars,
how they leapt slantwise through the sky
like horses over suddenly held-out hurdles
of our wishes—did we have so many?—
for stars, innumerable, leapt everywhere;
almost every gaze upward became
wedded to the swift hazard of their play,
and our heart felt like a single thing
beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—
and was whole, as if it would survive them!
American Art – Part II of IV: John Whorf (1903-1959)
In the words of one writer, “The son of a commercial artist, John Whorf showed a precocious talent for art. At the age of fourteen he traveled from his home in Winthrop, Massachusetts, to attend classes at the nearby School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. That same year, he began studying in Provincetown under Charles Hawthorne, E. Ambrose Webster and George Elmer Browne. Whorf’s life was drastically changed, however, when he was temporarily paralyzed in a serious fall at age eighteen. He said of that time, ‘Like most boys, I was full of energy and looked for exercise and excitement. After the accident, all that vigor of youth, that longing for adventure and romance, I put into my paintings.’”
Below – “Paddling Downstream”; “View through the Window, Paris”; “Boston Public Library and Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA”; “Harbor Scene”; “May”; “Morning Wind, Point Genor.”
Musings in Winter: Cormac McCarthy
“They rode out along the fenceline and across the open pastureland. The leather creaked in the morning cold. They pushed the horses into a lope. The lights fell away behind them. They rode out on the high prairie where they slowed the horses to a walk and the stars swarmed around them out of the blackness. They heard somewhere in that tenantless night a bell that tolled and ceased where no bell was and they rode out on the round dais of the earth which alone was dark and no light to it and which carried their figures and bore them up into the swarming stars so that they rode not under but among them and they rode at once jaunty and circumspect, like thieves newly loosed in that dark electric, like young thieves in a glowing orchard, loosely jacketed against the cold and ten thousand worlds for the choosing.”
American Art – Part III of IV: John Whalley
In the words of one writer, “Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1954, Whalley’s mother, herself an artist and graduate of the Pratt Institute, encouraged him to draw and paint from an early age. He completed his first oil painting at eight years of age at his childhood home in upstate New York, amid the beauty of rural countryside with its woods, hills, and lakes.
After considering a career in architecture, Whalley pursued formal art training at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he majored in illustration and minored in drawing and painting. In 1976, he moved to Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he regularly contributed artwork to a number of New England publications, including Atlantic Monthly and Yankee magazines. At this tim, he taught painting workshops at the Brockton Art Center. In 1979, he moved to Lima, New York, and then to Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania, in 1981. In Harrison Valley, he helped develop a therapeutic art program for abused and abandoned children at an orphanage set on a private 300-acre farm. It was the remote and rustic setting of this farm and its surrounding hills that inspired many of Whalley’s early works.
After the birth of his two sons, the Whalleys moved to Standish, Maine, near where Whalley spent many summers as a youth. Here he completed a series of paintings in oil and egg tempera and began working on an extended series of large-format graphite still lifes, which were represented for many years through Capricorn Galleries in Bethesda, Maryland. He also pursued a special interest by participating in several short-term outreaches to homeless children in El Salvador, Colombia, and the Amazon region and served as a volunteer worker and teacher from 1997 – 2003 at the New Horizons Youth Ranch in central Brazil.”
Below – “Monhegan Storm”; “Armada”; “Farm Pond”; “Copper Spoon”; “Chronos”; “Golden Pear.”
A Sixth Poem for Today
“Fireflies in the Garden”
By Robert Frost
Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.
Musings in Winter: Jay Woodman
“The world is a wide place where we stumble like children learning to walk. The world is a bright mosaic where we learn like children to see, where our little blurry eyes strive greedily to take in as much light and love and colour and detail as they can.
The world is a coaxing whisper when the wind lips the trees, when the sea licks the shore, when animals burrow into earth and people look up at the sympathetic stars. The world is an admonishing roar when gales chase rainclouds over the plains and whip up ocean waves, when people crowd into cities or intrude into dazzling jungles.
What right have we to carry our desperate mouths up mountains or into deserts? Do we want to taste rock and sand or do we expect to make impossible poems from space and silence? The vastness at least reminds us how tiny we are, and how much we don’t yet understand. We are mere babes in the universe, all brothers and sisters in the nursery together. We had better learn to play nicely before we’re allowed out….. And we want to go out, don’t we? ….. Into the distant humming welcoming darkness.”
American Art – Part IV of IV: Andrea Peyton
In the words of one writer, “Combining a love of nature and art, Andrea Peyton has spent her life studying nature and painting wild and still life subjects in realistically correct, yet artistically designed works. Andrea Peyton’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and has been chosen to illustrate feature articles in Wildlife Art News Magazine.”
Below – “Memories of the Republic of Texas Fighting Bison”; “Picante”; “Eggplants, Figs and Butterfly”; “Summer”; “Jewels from the Rainforest”; “Red Bat and Peaches.”