Sentient in San Francisco – 29 August 2019

This Date in Art History: Died 29 August 1946 – John Steuart Curry, an American painter.

Below – “Tornado Over Kansas”; “Circus Performers Outside the Big Top”;“The Homestead”; “Wisconsin Landscape”; “Baptism in Kansas”; “Ajax.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 29 August 1929 – Thom Gunn, an award-winning English-American poet.

“From the Wave”
by Thom Gunn
It mounts at sea, a concave wall
Down-ribbed with shine,
And pushes forward, building tall
Its steep incline.

Then from their hiding rise to sight
Black shapes on boards
Bearing before the fringe of white
It mottles towards.

Their pale feet curl, they poise their weight
With a learn’d skill.
It is the wave they imitate
Keeps them so still.

The marbling bodies have become
Half wave, half men,
Grafted it seems by feet of foam
Some seconds, then,

Late as they can, they slice the face
In timed procession:
Balance is triumph in this place,
Triumph possession.

The mindless heave of which they rode
A fluid shelf
Breaks as they leave it, falls and, slowed,
Loses itself.

Clear, the sheathed bodies slick as seals
Loosen and tingle;
And by the board the bare foot feels
The suck of shingle.

They paddle in the shallows still;
Two splash each other;
Then all swim out to wait until
The right waves gather.

Below – Raymond Pettibon: No Title (What More Could I Have Wished?)

Contemporary American Art – Dean West: Part I of II.

Below (photographs) – “Still life #1 (Desert Oasis)”; “Palm Springs #3”; “Palm Springs #2”; “Sarakiniko Beach # 5, Under the Sun”; “Palm Springs #1”; “Palm Springs #4.”

This Das in Literary History: Born 29 August 1922 – John Edward Williams, an American writer, author of “Stoner” and “Augustus,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

Some quotes from the work of John Edward Williams:

“You must remember what you are and what you have chosen to become, and the significance of what you are doing. There are wars and defeats and victories of the human race that are not military and that are not recorded in the annals of history. Remember that while you’re trying to decide what to do.”
“It seems to me that the moralist is the most useless and contemptible of creatures. He is useless in that he would expend his energies upon making judgments rather than upon gaining knowledge, for the reason that judgment is easy and knowledge is difficult. He is contemptible in that his judgments reflect a vision of himself which in his ignorance and pride he would impose upon the world. I implore you, do not become a moralist; you will destroy your art and your mind.”
“In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another.”
“To read without joy is stupid.”
“A war doesn’t merely kill off a few thousand or a few hundred thousand young men. It kills off something in a people that can never be brought back. And if a people goes through enough wars, pretty soon all that’s left is the brute, the creature that we—you and I and others like us—have brought up from the slime.”
“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.”
“Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.”

Contemporary American Art – Dean West: Part II of II.

Below – “Train”; “SK8 Beach”; “Bondi Beach 2”; “Bus”; “Pool”; “Hotel.”

A Poem for Today

by Angel Araguz

I made up a story for myself once,
That each glove I lost
Was sent to my father in prison

That’s all it would take for him
To chart my growth without pictures
Without words or visits,

Only colors and design,
Texture; it was ok then
For skin to chafe and ash,

To imagine him
Trying on a glove,
Stretching it out

My open palm closing
And disappearing
In his fist.

Contemporary American Art – Amy Bernays: Part I of II.

Below – “Heaven is Ice Cream on Rainy Days”; “Shadow’s Lessons”; “Taming Time”; “Fear of Flying”; “Blue Picnic”; “Training.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 29 August 1956 – Steve Yarbrough, an American novelist, short story writer, and author of “The End of California” and “The Realm of Last Chances.”

Some quotes from the work of Steve Yarbrough:

“It’s a lot easier to say when something ended rather than when it began. Most of us can recognize the end from a mile away, but the beginning always slips up on us, lulling us into thinking what we’re living through is yet another moment, in yet another day.”
“‘Just look what happens to poets,’ I used to tell my honors class on the first day of school. ‘Half the time they go mad. And you know why I think that happens? Too much truth distilled to its essence, all surrounding evidence ignored or discarded. And I’m not faulting them for that.’”
“At the age of twenty, I failed to grasp the difference between guilt, which can almost always be atoned for, and grief, which can only be borne.”
“Every place is different, but every place is the same, because you carry yourself with you wherever you go.”

Contemporary American Art – Amy Bernays: Part II of II.

Below – “My Pink LA House”; “Doped Up Diva”; “Five Bar”; “Homework before Horses”; “Neon Cowboy”; “The Cowboy and the Crab Eagle.”

A Poem for Today

“Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg”
by Richard Hugo

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn’t last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he’s done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can’t wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs—
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won’t fall finally down.

Isn’t this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn’t this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don’t empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I’ll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You’re talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it’s mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

Below – A bar on Broadway in Philipsburg, Montana.

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