Sentient in San Francisco – 23 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Born 23 December 1885 – Pierre Brissaud, a French Art Deco painter, illustrator, and engraver.

Below – “The Gardener”; “Maiden Voyage”; “Four to Seven, or Music Time”; “Confidences”; “Women with Parasols.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of Her Birth: Born 23 December 1963 – Donna Tartt, an American writer, author of “The Goldfinch,” and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Donna Tartt:

“A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.”
“The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, traveling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone.”
“And just as music is the space between notes, just as the stars are beautiful because of the space between them, just as the sun strikes raindrops at a certain angle and throws a prism of color across the sky—so the space where I exist, and want to keep existing, and to be quite frank I hope I die in, is exactly this middle distance: where despair struck pure otherness and created something sublime.”
“There is nothing wrong with the love of Beauty. But Beauty-unless she is wed to something more meaningful-is always superficial.”
“What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted—? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight towards a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?”
“Sometimes you can do all the right things and not succeed. And that’s a hard lesson of reality.”

This Date in Art History: Born 23 December 1968 – Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, a Puerto-Rican American photographer who, in the words of one writer, “is best known for his social documentary photography of people’s living conditions in less developed nations.”

Below – Seven of Manuel Rivera-Ortiz’s photographs.

A Poem for Today

“My Mother’s Music”
by Emilie Buchwald

In the evenings of my childhood,
when I went to bed,
music washed into the cove of my room,
my door open to a slice of light.

I felt a melancholy I couldn’t have named,
a longing for what I couldn’t yet have said
or understood but still
knew was longing,
knew was sadness
untouched by time.

the music was a rippling stream
of clear water rushing
over a bed of river stones
caught in sunlight.

And many nights
I crept from bed
to watch her
swaying where she sat
overtaken by the tide,
her arms rowing the music
out of the piano.

Below – Edouard Manet: “Madame Manet”

Contemporary German Art – Corinna Wagner

Below – “Armed”; “A saucerful of confidence”; “no more”; “fern”; “Pinar”; “remember the silence.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 23 December 1936 – Robert Bly, an American poet, essayist, and recipient of the National Book Award.

“After Long Busyness”
by Robert Bly

I start out for a walk at last after weeks at the desk.
Moon gone, plowing underfoot, no stars; not a trace of light!
Suppose a horse were galloping toward me in this open field?
Every day I did not spend in solitude was wasted.

This Date in Art History: Born 23 December 1870 – John Marin, an American painter.

Below – “New York Fantasy”; “Brooklyn Bridge”; “Tunk Mountains, Autumn, Maine”; “Sunset”; “Weehawken Sequence”; “Weehawken Sequence, No. 30.”

Remembering a Writer on the Date of His Birth: Born 23 December 1902 – Norman Maclean, an American writer and author of “A River Runs Through It and Other Stories.”

Some quotes from the work of Norman Maclean:

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”
“Each one of us here today will at one time in our lives look upon a loved one who is in need and ask the same question: We are willing to help, Lord, but what, if anything, is needed? For it is true we can seldom help those closest to us. Either we don’t know what part of ourselves to give or, more often than not, the part we have to give is not wanted. And so it is those we live with and should know who elude us. But we can still love them – we can love completely without complete understanding.”
“One great thing about fly fishing is that after a while nothing exists of the world but thoughts about fly fishing.”
“All good things come by grace, and grace comes by art, and art does not come easy.”
“Many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.”
“The nearest anyone can come to finding himself at any given age is to find a story that somehow tells him about himself.”
“When exhausted and feeling sorry for yourself, at least change your socks.”
“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear. A river, though, has so many things to say that it is hard to know what it says to each of us.”
“I sat there and forgot and forgot, until what remained was the river that went by and I who watched. On the river the heat mirages danced with each other and then they danced through each other and then they joined hands and danced around each other. Eventually the water joined the river, and there was only one of us. I believe it was the river.”

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