Contemporary American Art – Robert Schmid
Below – “Alone Together”; “Starway for a Dreamer”; “The Order of Time”; “Every Second Counts”; “Curved Time”; “Talking to Myself.”
Chiura Obata came to the United States from Japan in 1903, at age 17. Following a summer spent in the Sierra Nevada in 1927, he became a successful painter and was a faculty member in the Art Department of the University of California, Berkeley from 1932 to 1954. His time at Berkeley was interrupted by World War II, during which he spent over a year in internment camps. Despite the many trials that he faced during his lifetime, Obata always maintained a positive outlook about existence, art, and, especially, nature.
Some quotes from the work of Chiura Obata:
“My aim is to create a bowl full of joy
Clear as the sky
Pure as falling cherry petals,
Without worry, without doubt;
Then comes full energy, endless power
And the road to art.”
“The old pine on the Tioga plain has borne avalanches, fought wind, rain, ice, and snow, and has suffered bitter times for several hundred years. Like a warrior at the end of his life, he embraces with his rough roots the young trees growing up and surrounding the fallen parent. When I see this I feel that man should be devoted and struggle hard to follow his own ambition without willful, selfish reasons.”
“I feel that to weep and to be caught in trivial emotions is impure, and I would be ashamed before nature. Now, I have come to Southern California to exhibit my work of the past twenty years to brothers and sisters and young people who are also working hard with similar thoughts in spite of different vocations.”
“Mount Lyell stands majestically, 13,650 feet high, clad in brilliant snow and towering over the high peaks of the Sierra — Tioga Peak, Mount Dana, Ragged Peak, Johnson Peak, Unicorn Peak, and Mount San Joaquin, which surround her.”
“The spotlessly clear blue sky that sweeps high up over the mountains changes in a moment to a furious black color. Clouds call clouds. Pealing thunder shrieks and roars across the black heavens. Man stands awestruck in the face of the great change of wondrous nature.”
“The speed of the universe is surprisingly fast. The uproar of Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight is no comparison to nature… At a place where yesterday I thought the snow was three to four feet high, a type of flower that I had never seen before is already smiling today. Even the sky deepens its blue color every day, adding infinite thoughts to the morning sunlight.”
“I dedicate my paintings, first, to the grand nature of California, which, over the long years, in sad as well as in delightful times, has always given me great lessons, comfort, and nourishment. Second, to the people who share the same thoughts, as though drawing water from one river under one tree.”
“My paintings, created by the humble brush of a mediocre man, are nothing but expressions of my wholehearted praise and gratitude.”
Remembering an American Artist: Chiura Obata (1885-1975) – a Japanese-American painter: Part II of III.
Below – “Death’s Grove Pass”; “Lake Basin in the High Sierra”; “Mono Crater.”
“Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri”
by Mona Van Duyn
The quake last night was nothing personal,
you told me this morning. I think one always wonders,
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.
But the earth said last night that what I feel,
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me.
One small, sensuous catastrophe
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.
The earth, with others on it, turns in its course
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross,
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell
to planets, nearing the universal roll,
in our conceit even comprehending the sun,
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.
Below – Donna Tuten: “Lovers”
Below – “Lake Mary, Inyo National Forest”; “Mount Lyell”; “A Storm Nearing Yosemite Government Center”; “Along Mono Lake”; “Passing Rain.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 9 May 1950 – Jorie Graham, an American poet and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize.
“Over and Over Stitch”
by Jodie Graham
Late in the season the world digs in, the fat blossoms
hold still for just a moment longer.
Nothing looks satisfied,
but there is no real reason to move on much further:
this isn’t a bad place;
why not pretend
we wished for it?
The bushes have learned to live with their haunches.
The hydrangea is resigned
to its pale and inconclusive utterances.
Towards the end of the season
it is not bad
to have the body. To have experienced joy
as the mere lifting of hunger
is not to have known it
less. The tobacco leaves
don’t mind being removed
to the long racks—all uses are astounding
to the used.
There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven—
noon, for instance, or all the single victories
of gravity, or the kudzu vine,
most delicate of manias,
which has pressed its luck
this far this season.
It shines a gloating green.
Its edges darken with impatience, a kind of wind.
Nothing again will ever be this easy, lives
being snatched up like dropped stitches, the dry stalks of daylilies
marking a stillness we can’t keep.
Below – “Birds and bamboo”; “Maiko”; “Little gheisa 8”; “The writer.”
Some quotes from the work of Joy Harjo:
“At least I’ve had to come to that in my life, to realize that this stuff called failure, this stuff, this debris of historical trauma, family trauma, you know, stuff that can kill your spirit, is actually raw material to make things with and to build a bridge. You can use those materials to build a bridge over that which would destroy you.”
“If you do not answer the noise and urgency of your gifts, they will turn on you. Or drag you down with their immense sadness at being abandoned.”
“My generation is now the door to memory. That is why I am remembering.”
“If we cry more tears we will ruin the land with salt; instead let’s praise that which would distract us with despair. Make a song for death, a song for yellow teeth and bad breath.”
“It is memory that provides the heart with impetus, fuels the brain, and propels the corn plant from seed to fruit.”
“I can hear the sizzle of newborn stars, and know anything of meaning, of the fierce magic emerging here. I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past, and I know we will live forever, as dust or breath in the face of stars, in the shifting pattern of winds.”
“It’s possible to understand the world from studying a leaf. You can comprehend the laws of aerodynamics, mathematics, poetry and biology through the complex beauty of such a perfect structure.
It’s also possible to travel the whole globe and learn nothing.”
“I could hear my abandoned dreams making a racket in my soul.”
“I know I walk in and out of several worlds each day.”
Contemporary Spanish Art – Marina Del Pozo: Part II of II.
Below – “Little gheisa 12”; “Marina”; “Blue ultramarine gheisa.”
This Date in Literary History: Born 9 May 1951 – Joy Harjo, an award-winning American poet, author, and musician: Part II of II.
“Perhaps the World Ends Here”
by Joy Harjo
The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.
Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.
Below – Vicente Manansala: “Prayer before Meal”