Sentient in San Francisco – 28 December 2018

This Date in Art History: Born 28 December 1895 – Felix Vallotton, a Swiss-French painter.

Below – “The Laundress, Blue Room”; “La plage a Honfleur”; “The Artist’s Mother”; “The Red Room”; “Waltz”; “The Bath, Summer Evening.”

Musings in Winter: Sei Shonagon

“In winter [what is most beautiful is] the early mornings. It is beautiful indeed when snow has fallen during the night, but splendid too when the ground is white with frost; or even when there is no snow or frost, but it is simply very cold and the attendants hurry from room to room stirring up the fires and bringing charcoal, how well this fits the season’s mood!”

This Date in Art History: Died 28 December 1890 – Dennis Miller Bunker, an American painter.

Below – “The Pool, Medfield”; “Moonrise”; “Jessica”; “Tree”; “Marshland Medfield”; “Midsummer Landscape with Apple Tree.”

Remembering a Nobel Laureate on the Date of His Birth: Born 28 December 1955 – Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese writer, literary critic, human rights activist, and recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Some quotes from the work of Liu Xiaobo:

“Free expression is the base of human rights, the root of human nature and the mother of truth. To kill free speech is to insult human rights, to stifle human nature and to suppress truth.”
“Hatred is corrosive of a person’s wisdom and conscience; the mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life and death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy.”
“I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crimes.”
“I have viewed the West as if it were not only the salvation of China but also the natural and ultimate destination of all humanity.
“Life is priceless even to an ant.”
“In China the underworld and officialdom have interpenetrated and become one. Criminal elements have become officialized as officials have become criminalized.”
“I can’t imagine here would be a Chinese Gorbachev. But the party will gradually open up. For instance, it has already set a time limit for political reforms in Hong Kong. And in four years time, there won’t be a strongman to name the General Secretary at the party congress. That means that the various factions will have to develop better rules for naming their leader. But there won’t be a timeline for political reform.”
“I’ve heard the government say many nice things. But it did make some gestures, like writing human rights protection into the constitution – that surprised me. And it improved the conditions for foreign journalists: It used to be impossible for you to meet with me personally. But there still hasn’t been a real improvement in the human rights situation.”

This Date in Art History: Died 28 December 1924 – Leon Bakst, a Russian painter.

Below – “Terror Antiquus”; “The Supper”; “Elisium”; “Downpour”; “Model”: “Self-Portrait.”

Musings in Winter: Tom Allen

“While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best.”

This Date in Art History: Died 28 December 1946 – Elie Nadelman, a Polish-American sculptor.

Below – “Horse”; “Draped Standing Female Figure”; “Classical Head”: “Two Women (One Seated)”; “Head”; “Standing Nude.”

A Poem for Today

by Stuart Dybek

Sometimes they are the only thing beautiful
about a hotel.
Like transients,
come winter they have a way of disappearing,
disguised as dirty light,
limp beside a puttied pane.
Then some April afternoon
a roomer jacks a window open,
a breeze intrudes,
resuscitates memory,
and suddenly they want to fly,
while men,
looking up from the street,
are deceived a moment
into thinking
a girl in an upper story
is waving.

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