Sentient in San Francisco – 28 March 2020

This Date in Art History: Died 28 March 1985 – Marc Chagall, a Russian-French painter.

Below – “Still-life”; “The Fiddler”; “Bella with White Collar”; “The Circus Horse”; “To My Betrothed”; “The Village.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 28 March 2012 – Harry Crews, an American novelist, playwright, short story writer, and essayist. In the words of one writer,”Harry Crews’s work has become synonymous with the genre Grit Lit.” One critic describes works in this genre “as typically blue collar or working class, mostly small town, sometimes rural, occasionally but not always violent, usually but not necessarily southern.”

Some quotes from the work of Harry Crews:

“I never wanted to be well-rounded. I do not admire well-rounded people nor their work. So far as I can see, nothing good in the world has ever been done by well-rounded people. The good work is done by people with jagged, broken edges, because those edges cut things and leave an imprint, a design.”
“Writers spend all their time preoccupied with just the things that their fellow men and women spend their time trying to avoid thinking about. … It takes great courage to look where you have to look, which is in yourself, in your experience, in your relationship with fellow beings, your relationship to the earth, to the spirit or to the first cause—to look at them and make something of them.”
“There ought to be a law against the sun rising and setting for you in somebody else.”
“What the artist owes the world is his work; not a model for living.”
“Survival is triumph enough.”
“I first became fascinated with the Sears catalogue because all the people in its pages were perfect. Nearly everybody I knew had something missing, a finger cut off, a toe split, an ear half-chewed away, an eye clouded with blindness from a glancing fence staple. And if they didn’t have something missing, they were carrying scars from barbed wire, or knives, or fishhooks. But the people in the catalogue had no such hurts. They were not only whole, had all their arms and legs and eyes on their unscarred bodies, but they were also beautiful.”
“That was the only decision there was once upon a time: what to do with the night.”

This Date in Art History: Born 28 March 1922 – Grace Hartigan, an American painter.

Below – “Black Clock (After Cezanne)”; “Miami Senoritas”; “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; “St. Croix Interior”; “Follies ’27”; “Renaissance Costumes.”

A Poem for Today

“Bakery of Lies”
by Judith Askew

My favorite is the cream puff lie,
the kind inflated with hot air,
expanded to make an heroic-sized story.

Another is the cannoli, a long lie,
well-packed with nutty details,
lightly wrapped in flakey truth.

A macaroon isn’t a little white lie,
but it’s covered
with self-serving coconut.

The apple tart carries slices
of sour gossip, only
slightly sweetened with truth.

Then there’s the napoleon,
an Iago lie of pernicious intent,
layer upon layer of dark deceit.

This Date in Art History: Died 28 March 2006 – Pro Hart, an Australian painter.

Below – “Fence Scape”; “Racetrack”; “Trees in Landscape”; “The Folly of the TAB (One Tree Race)”; “Broken Gate with Rabbit”; “The New Bikes.”

This Date in Literary History: Born 28 March 1908 – Nelson Algren, an American novelist, short story writer, author of “The Man with the Golden Arm,” and recipient of the National Book Award.

“Our myths are so many, our vision so dim, our self-deception so deep and our smugness so gross that scarcely any way now remains of reporting the American Century except from behind the billboards.”
“Literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal apparatus by conscience in touch with humanity.”
“He said, with sort of a little derisive smile, ‘How can you walk down the street with all this stuff going on inside you?’ I said, ‘I don’t know how you can walk down the street with nothing going on inside you.’”
“Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
“Thinking of Poe, thinking of Mark Twain and Vachel Lindsay, thinking of Jack London and Tom Wolfe, one begins to feel there is almost no way of becoming a creative writer in America without being a loser.”
“Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom’s. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own.”

Contemporary French Art – Claire Biette

Below – “printemps”; “La belle vie”; “Mystere”; “une lumière sur mon chemin”; “symphone.”

A Poem for Today

“Aquarium, February”
by Liz Ahl

When ice outside makes daggers of the grass,
I come to where the tides of life still flow.
The water here still moves behind the glass.

In here, the seasons never seem to pass—
the sullen shark and rays still come and go.
Outside the ice makes daggers of the grass

and coats the roads. The meditative bass
won’t puzzle how the blustery blizzards blow.
The water here still moves. Behind the glass,

rose-tinted corals house a teeming mass
of busy neon creatures who don’t know
“outside.” The ice makes daggers of the grass

and oily puddles into mirrors. Gas
freezes in its lines; my car won’t go,
but water here still moves behind the glass.

No piles of valentines, no heart held fast—
just sea stars under lights kept soft and low.
Outside, the ice makes daggers of the grass;
in here, the water moves behind the glass.

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