Sentient in San Francisco – 31 December 2019

This Date in Art History: Born 31 December 1869 – Henri Matisse, a French painter and sculptor.

Below – “Woman Reading”; “Woman with a Hat”; “Blue Jug”; “Copse on the Banks of the Garonne”; “Dinner Table”; “Study of a Nude.”

Musings in Winter: Mark Twain

“I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream… I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people’s tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.”

This Date in Art History: Born 31 December 1881 – Max Pechstein, a German painter.

Below – “Bathers”; “Girl on a Green Sofa with a Cat”; “Dancer in the Mirror”; “Sunset over the Blue Bridge”; “Under the Trees”; “Bank of a Lake.”

A Poem for New Year’s Eve

“Year’s End”
by Richard Wilbur

Now winter downs the dying of the year,
And night is all a settlement of snow;
From the soft street the rooms of houses show
A gathered light, a shapen atmosphere,
Like frozen-over lakes whose ice is thin
And still allows some stirring down within.

I’ve known the wind by water banks to shake
The late leaves down, which frozen where they fell
And held in ice as dancers in a spell
Fluttered all winter long into a lake;
Graved on the dark in gestures of descent,
They seemed their own most perfect monument.

There was perfection in the death of ferns
Which laid their fragile cheeks against the stone
A million years. Great mammoths overthrown
Composedly have made their long sojourns,
Like palaces of patience, in the gray
And changeless lands of ice. And at Pompeii

The little dog lay curled and did not rise
But slept the deeper as the ashes rose
And found the people incomplete, and froze
The random hands, the loose unready eyes
Of men expecting yet another sun
To do the shapely thing they had not done.

These sudden ends of time must give us pause.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
More time, more time. Barrages of applause
Come muffled from a buried radio.
The New-year bells are wrangling with the snow.

Contemporary British Art – Owen Normand

Below – “Sending Messages”; “Il Cappello”; “Cold Water”; “The Control Tower”; “The Land of Ships and Seas”; “Over Seas, Over Years.”


Musings in Winter: Tove Jansson

“There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in. They keep out of the way all the year. And then when everything’s quiet and white and the nights are long and most people are asleep—then they appear.”


Contemporary Australian Art – Thor Elias Engelstad

Below (photographs) – “Deep Lip Stick”; “Mermaids No.1”; “
After Dark with Clara No.3 “; “Seal Ring”; “After Dark with Clara No.5”; “La Femme No.2.”


A Poem for New Year’s Eve

“Burning the Old Year”
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.

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