Sentient in Seattle – 27 June 2018

Remembering a Thinker on the Date of His Death: Died 27 June 2017 – Peter L. Berger, an influential American sociologist.

Some quotes from the work of Peter Berger:

“Institutions provide procedures through which human conduct is patterned, compelled to go, in grooves deemed desirable by society. And this trick is performed by making these grooves appear to the individual as the only possible ones.”
“Unlike puppets we have the possibility of stopping in our movements, looking up and perceiving the machinery by which we have been moved. In this act lies the first steps towards freedom.”
“The basic fault lines today are not between people with different beliefs but between people who hold these beliefs with an element of uncertainty and people who hold these beliefs with a pretense of certitude.”
“Even if one is interested only in one’s own society, which is one’s prerogative, one can understand that society much better by comparing it with others.”
“Religion is the human attitude towards a sacred order that includes within it all being-human or otherwise – i.e., belief in a cosmos, the meaning of which both includes and transcends man.”

Art for Summer – Part I of III: Ivor Davies (Welsh, contemporary)

Below – “Branwen”; “Death and Taxes”; “Pysgod a Ffrwythau”

For Your Information: 27 June is Helen Keller Day in the United States. It is observed on the date of her birth – 27 June 1880.

Art for Summer – Part II of III: George Herms (American, contemporary)

Below – “Dial-A-Vision” (serigraph); “Begin” (collage); “Navajos” (collage)

Remembering a Thinker and Activist on the Date of Her Birth: Born 27 June 1869 – Emma Goldman, an American anarchist, political activist, and author.

Some quotes from the work of Emma Goldman:

“The most violent element in society is ignorance.”
“If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.”
“When we can’t dream any longer we die.”
“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”
“Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think.”
“Every society has the criminals it deserves.”
“The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.
“To the moralist prostitution does not consist so much in the fact that the woman sells her body but rather that she sells it out of wedlock.”
“The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.”
“What a strange development of patriotism that turns a thinking being into a loyal machine?”
“No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.”


Art for Summer – Part III of III: Mark Hopkins (American, contemporary)

Below (all bronze) – “Jesse James”; “Firestarter”; “In Search of Place”

Remembering a Pioneer on the Date of Her Death: Died 27 June 2014 – Violet Milstead, a Canadian aviator, who, in the words of one writer, was “noted for being the first female Canadian bush pilot and one of only four Canadian woman to work in the British Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) during WWII. With over 600 hours of flight time during the war, she was the longest serving female Canadian ATA pilot. She worked as a flight instructor at Barker Field in Toronto, Ontario, and her students included commercial pilot Molly Reilly and author June Callwood. She is a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame, the Order of Canada, and the Bush Pilots Hall of Fame.”

Contemporary Chinese Art – Lu Hong: Part I of II.

In the words of one writer, “Lu Hong, a child of the revolution, was born in 1959, in the coastal city of Qin-Huang-Dao, China. In 1966 the Chinese Cultural Revolution began and the effects of this political upheaval were profound for Lu Hong’s family. During the late 1970’s, while Lu Hong was attending high school, channels of communication were reopened to information from the Western world. It was during this time, that Lu Hong’s family was visited by his uncle, Ting Shao Kuang. Ting was not only a world-renowned painter and teacher, but also the respected leader of the contemporary Chinese art movement known as the Yunnan School. Ting recognized the signs that predicted future greatness in the abstract paintings of his young nephew. Ting inspired Lu Hong to make use of his innate artistic ability.”

Below – “Passion of Summer”; “Spirit of the Tropics”; ”Morning Sonata”; “Full Moon and Water”; “Equus”; “Rhyme of the Sea.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 27 June 1906 – Vernon Watkins, a Welsh poet.

“Three Harps”
by Vernon Watkins

Ambitions playing:
The first, inseparable
From gold-edged printing
On Daedalus’ table.

Desire for flight:
Chariot-usurping skill.
The god of light
Torn from the godlike will.

What tears of amber,
What pre-natal force
From dawn’s dark chamber
Fired me on my course?

Three harps: one
From emulation drew its strength.
The rising sun:
A harp at arm’s length.

The second word of day;
The second word:
A harp a hand away
Held by a human cord.

By cypress taught and yew,
My soul I made
Write old ambition new
And qualify the laurel’s shade.

I set one grave apart,
Gave speech to stone:
“Come back to my sad heart
And play this harp of bone.”

Little for the sun I cared,
Little for renown.
I saw the unknown, unshared,
True grave. So I lay down;

Lay down, and closed my eyes
To the end of all time,
The end of birth’s enterprise
And death’s small crime.

Then at once the shrouded harp
Was manifest. I began
To touch, though pain is sharp,
The ribs of the man.


Contemporary Chinese Art – Lu Hong: Part II of II.

Artist Statement: “All my life I was forced to think and act a certain way, but after I left the academy, I began to develop my own style of thinking and painting.”

Below – “June Bride”; “Blue Love”; “Expectation of a Mermaid”; “Dawn”; “Splendor”; “Magic.”


Worth a Thousand Words: Some of the ruins of Carthage in Tunisia.

This Date in Art History – Born 27 June 1913 – Philip Guston, an American Painter.

Below – “Painting, Smoking, Eating”; “Departure II”; “Shoes”; “Objects”; “Ancient Rock, Ostia”; Untitled.

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 27 June 1953 – Alice McDermott, an American novelist and recipient of both the American Book Award (1999) and the National Book Award for Fiction (1999) – for “Charming Billy.”

Some quotes from the work of Alice McDermott:

“We are surrounded by story.”
“If you want to see how far we have not come from the cave and the woods, from the lonely and dangerous days of the prarie or the plain, witness the reaction of a modern suburban family, nearly ready for bed, when the doorbell rings or the door is rattled. They will stop where they stand, or sit bolt upright in their beds, as if a streak of pure lightning has passed through the house. Eyes wide, voices fearful, they will whisper to each other, ‘There’s someone at the door,’ in a way that might make you believe they have always feared and anticipated this moment – that they have spent their lives being stalked.”
“My love for the child asleep in the crib, the child’s need for me, for my vigilance, had made my life valuable in a way that even the most abundantly offered love, my parents’, my brother’s, even Tom’s, had failed to do. Love was required of me now–to be given, not merely to be sought and returned.”
“We are at the mercy of time, and for all the ways we are remembered, a sea of things will be lost. But how much is contained in what lingers!”
“It was as if he stopped time for them two weeks out of every year, cut them off from both the past and the future so that they had only this present in a brand-new place, this present in which her children sought the sight and the scent of her: a wonderful thing, when you noticed it. When the past and the future grew still enough to let you notice it. He did that for her. This man she’d married.”
“The lesson, I suppose, is that none of us have much control over how we will be remembered. Every life is an amalgam, and it is impossible to know what moments, what foibles, what charms will come to define us once we’re gone. All we can do is live our lives fully, be authentically ourselves, and trust that the right things about us, the best and most fitting things, will echo in the memories of us that endure.”


Contemporary American Art – John Holyfield

In the words of one writer, “John Holyfield is considered one of the top African-American contemporary artists. Over the past twenty years, his works have been exhibited in hundreds of galleries, featured in numerous books and adorned the walls of several television show sets.John’s art has a strong southern folksy feel, capturing the essence of rural life. His main themes are family, spirituality and culture. For much of his subject matter, Holyfield draws from his family members, childhood memories and stories from his grandmothers. His grandmothers are his greatest inspirations; which explains the repetition of women in his works.”

Below – “Poet”; “Soul Mates”; “Watch Out Now”; “A New Day”; “Steal Away”; “Balladeer.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 27 June 1850 – Lafcadio Hearn, a historian and author.
Lafcadio Hearn lived an extremely interesting and eventful life. Born in Greece, he lived for a time in Ireland, before moving to the United States, where he wrote some impressively insightful newspaper columns while a resident of New Orleans. However, Hearn’s literary reputation is based on the work that he published after moving to Japan in 1890. He married a Japanese woman, Koizumi Setsu, and, after becoming a naturalized Japanese citizen, took the name Koizumi Yakumo. He then wrote some remarkably authentic books about Japanese culture, including “Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things.” My Asian Studies students will remember our watching the movie based on these stories – “Kwaidan” (1965) (winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival), directed by Kobayashi Masaki.

Some quotes from the work of Lafcadio Hearn:

“No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, until he has a child and loves it. And then the whole universe changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before.”
“All good work is done the way ants do things: Little by little.”
“Times are not good here. The city [New Orleans] is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become a study for archaeologists…but it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.”
“The tea ceremony requires years of training and practice … yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible.”
“There is scarcely any great author in European literature, old or new, who has not distinguished himself in his treatment of the supernatural. In English literature, I believe there is no exception from the time of the Anglo-Saxon poets to Shakespeare, and from Shakespeare to our own day. And this introduces us to the consideration of a general and remarkable fact, a fact that I do not remember to have seen in any books, but which is of very great philosophical importance: there is something ghostly in all great art, whether of literature, music, sculpture, or architecture. It touches something within us that relates to infinity”
“The highest duty of the man is not to his father, but to his wife; and for the sake of that woman he abandons all other earthly ties, should any of these happen to interfere with that relation.”
“The Shadow-maker shapes forever.”
“How sweet Japanese woman is! All the possibilities of the race for goodness seem to be concentrated in her.”

Below – Hearn with his wife, Koizumi Setsu.


Contemporary American Art – Rance Hood

In the words of one writer, “Rance Hood is one of the few Native American artists left who still paints in the manner which echoes the traditional Indian culture and spirituality of the past that has been drastically changed by the modern and white worlds. Hood grew up in the home of his maternal grandparents who taught him Comanche Indian ways and values. Hood has introduced some abstract motifs into his backgrounds, but he adheres mainly to the traditional style of art practiced by his ancestors. Today, thirty years beyond his original success as a major Indian artist in the 1960’s, Rance Hood is still considered the most successful Plains Indian artist. There is a storm center or animating force which charges Hood’s art with vitality. Hood’s storm center is his expression of his ancient tribal heritage, his visionary spiritual life, and a practicing mysticism. His themes are mystical, spiritual, developing his work through the customs and religious practices which were passed down to him. Coexisting with Hood’s control of the painting process is a mysticism that also distinguishes his work.”

Below – “Comanche Chief”; “Willow”; “Comanche Maiden”; “Horse” (cast paper sculpture); “Short of Food”; “His Last Chance.”

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