From the Pacific Northwest – Part LXIV

Musings in Winter: Albert Schweitzer

“Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come.”

Below – Albert Schweitzer

Art for Winter – Part I of IV: Danja Akulin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Untitled no. 14” (charcoal on canvas)

A Poem for Today

“August Morning, Upper Broadway”
By Alicia Ostriker

As the body of the beloved is a window
through which we behold the blackness and vastness of space
pulsing with stars, and as the man

on the corner with his fruit stand is a window,
and the cherries, blackberries, raspberries
avocados and carrots are a rose window

like the one in Chartres, yes, or the one in Paris
through which light floods from the other world, the pure one
stabbing tourists with malicious abundant joy

though the man is tired in the summer heat
and reads his newspaper listlessly, without passion
and people pass his stand buying nothing

let us call this scene a window looking out
not at a paradise but as a paradise
might be, if we had eyes to see

the women in their swaying dresses, the season’s fruit
the babies in their strollers infinitely soft: clear window
after clear window

Art for Winter – Part II of IV: Alexander Kabin (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Ring” (From the series “Private life”)

Musings in Winter: Bryn Hammond

“For a few heady weeks of the year the steppe in a binge throws out a wilderness of flowers that tangle your hooves and confuse your horse.”

Art for Winter – Part III of IV: Tony Saladino (American, contemporary)

Below – “This Is Not a Test”

A Second Poem for Today

“Blue with Collapse”
By Thomas Lux

The devil’s in my neck.
Everything I hear is overviolined,
even the wind, even the wind.
It’s like walking in nurdles up to my chest,
squeaky and slow.
It’s spring, the blooming branches
nearly hide the many dead ones.
A squirrel, digging for a nut, upends my frail
tomato plant and fails
to replant it, even though he has the tools.
I find this kind of squirrely oblivion everywhere.
I was a man filled to the top
of my spine, filled to the lump
on the back of my head, with hope.
Then I read a few thousand history books.
Little, and nothing, perturbs me now.
Even the beheadings, even the giant meat hooks
in the sky, more frequent each day,
bother me not
a tittle, not a jot.

Art for Winter – Part IV of IV: Igor Samsonov (Russian, contemporary)

Below – “Chess Mates”

Musings in Winter: Alexander McCall Smith

“A traditional house smelled of wood smoke, the earth, and of thatch; all good smells, the smell of life itself.”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part I of II: Pavel Brat

In the words of one writer, “Brat creates collages like no other, achieving an illusion of deconstructed depth through clever manipulation of imagery from the worlds of fashion, design and advertising. Brat’s canvases respond to the oppressive nature of advertising and material excess in our everyday lives. Brat creates an abstract tonic, referencing Renaissance paintings and tonal configurations that to the naive eye create intense and mesmerizing abstract landscapes and strong colour palletes from glossy magazines.”

Below – “Zeppelin”; “Blood”; “Coast 1”; “Falling”; “Night”; “Paradosis #1.”

A Third Poem for Today

“The Philosopher Did Not Say”
By Jennifer Franklin

What secret had Nietzsche discovered
when he walked the Turin streets
before he flung his arms around
a horse being beaten and collapsed
into a decade-long coma? Clinging
to the cowering brown beast, he said
Mother, I am stupid. Wild hair and a three-
piece tweed suit constrained the body
that held the mind that knew too much.
Why am I mining dead men for answers
when they were all as mad as I am?
The horse, his eyes hollow as those
of the Burmese elephant that Orwell shot
decades later, had the look of every
betrayed creature. Perhaps Nietzsche
saw the shock in the animal’s eyes—
how every human contains the capacity
to inflict cruelty. The look that turns
to recognition, to resignation, to an eye
reflecting a field full of fallen horses.

Below – Below – Robberto: “Nietzsche”

Contemporary Russian Art – Part II of II: Maria Tregubenko

Painter Maria Tregubenko (born 1962) earned an MFA from the State Pedagogical University, Department of Artistic Drawing.

Below – “Love”; “Nerves”; “Evening”; “Breath In – Breath Out”; “Moika’s Embankment”; “Evening”; “30 km from.”

A Fourth Poem for Today

“What Is the Grass?”
By Mark Doty

On the margin
in the used text
I’ve purchased without opening

—pale green dutiful vessel—

some unconvinced student has written,
in a clear, looping hand,
‘Isn’t it grass?’

How could I answer the child?
I do not exaggerate,
I think of her question for years.

And while first I imagine her the very type
of the incurious, revealing the difference
between a mind at rest and one that cannot,

later I come to imagine that she
had faith in language,
that was the difference: she believed

that the word settled things,
the matter need not be looked into again.

And he who’d written his book over and over, nearly ruining it,
so enchanted by what had first compelled him
—for him the word settled nothing at all.

Musings in Winter: Polly Horvath

“All summers take me back to the sea. There in the long eelgrass, like birds’ eggs waiting to be hatched, my brothers and sister and I sit, grasses higher than our heads, arms and legs like thicker versions of the grass waving in the wind, looking up at the blue sky. My mother is gathering food for dinner: clams and mussels and the sharply salty greens that grow by the shore. It is warm enough to lie here in the little silty puddles like bathwater left in the tub after the plug has been pulled. It is the beginning of July and we have two months to live out the long, nurturing days, watching the geese and the saltwater swans and the tides as they are today, slipping out, out, out as the moon pulls the other three seasons far away wherever it takes things. Out past the planets, far away from Uranus and the edge of our solar system, into the brilliantly lit dark where the things we don’t know about yet reside. Out past my childhood, out past the ghosts, out past the breakwater of the stars. Like the silvery lace curtains of my bedroom being drawn from my window, letting in light, so the moon gently pulls back the layers of the year, leaving the best part open and free. So summer comes to me.”

American Art – Part I of II: Jeff Segler

In the words of one writer, “Born in 1956, Jeff grew up in Alabama watching Gene Autry, The Lone Ranger, The Rifleman, and Flipper. He always wanted to be a cowboy (or dolphin wrangler) as a kid. In 1977 he got the opportunity, sort of. Jeff took a job as a cowboy in a living history program on a large ranch in Northern New Mexico teaching thousands of young people and adults about the history of the cattle industry in the 1880s American West. That living history program was 24/7, teaching about everyday working cowboys, cattle barons and all characters in between. He worked the job for seven years and learned a lot about the details of everyday life of an 1880’s Northern New Mexico cowboy. That experience was the real foundation for Jeff’s passion for cowboy art.”

“Carment and Dmitry, Cheyenne Swimming Hole 1898”; “Buffalo & Sky”; “Shooting the Cheyenne”; “Chief Bald Eagle – A Hero”; “Heading for Summer Pastures”; “The Creak of Leather.”

Musings in Winter: Buck Brannaman

“The road may bend out of sight at times, but I know what lies ahead: the faraway horses.”

American Art – Part II of II: Claudia Brookes

In the words of one writer, “For Claudia L. Brookes, art emerged as a second career after many years in the medical publishing business. Although she cannot remember a time when she could not draw and paint with some competence, and always had exposure to art materials and museums thanks to her amateur artist father, she waited until later in life to develop a career as a fine artist. She has pursued a path she calls ‘selective education,’ carefully targeting the classes, instructors, and workshops that would yield the most benefit to her development as an artist. Her primary influences include the Cape Ann (MA), New Hope (PA), and the California plein air panters of the early 20th Century.”

Below – “Blue Gate II”; “East from Gunnison”; “Last Glow at Taylor’s Landing”; “Night Cathedral, San Miguel de Allende”; “Quiet Running River”; “Water, Water.”

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