Wandering in Woodacre – 14 September 2020

This Date in Art History: Born 14 September 1883 – Richard Gerstl, an Austrian painter and illustrator.

Below – “Railway to the Kahlenberg”; “Seated Woman in Green dress”; “Portrait of Henryka Cohn”; “Portrait of a seated man”; “Schonberg Family”; “Semi-nude Self-portrait against a blue background.”

This Date in Literary History: Died 14 September 1851 – James Fenimore Cooper, an American novelist, short story writer, historian, and author of “The Leatherstocking Tales.”
I have enjoyed reading “The Leatherstocking Tales” several times, but I have never been able to study them without occasionally smiling after reading Mark Twain’s satirical essay “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses.”

Some quotes from the work of James Fenimore Cooper:

“History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness.”
“Then as to churches, they are good, I suppose, else wouldn’t good men uphold’ em. But they are not altogether necessary. They call ’em the temples of the Lord; but, Judith, the whole ‘arth is a temple of the Lord to such as have the right mind. Neither forts nor churches make people happier of themselves. Moreover, all is contradiction in the settlements, while all is concord in the woods. Forts and churches almost always go together, and yet they’re downright contradictions; churches being for peace, and forts for war. No, no–give me the strong places of the wilderness, which is the trees, and the churches, too, which are arbors raised by the hand of nature.”
“An interesting fiction… however paradoxical the assertion may appear… addresses our love of truth- not the mere love of facts expressed by true names and dates, but the love of that higher truth, the truth of nature and principals, which is a primitive law of the human mind.”
“My day has been too long. In the morning I saw the sons of the Unamis happy and strong; and yet, before the sun has come, have I lived to see the last warrior of the wise race of the Mohicans.”

This Date in Art History: Died 14 September 1931 – Tom Roberts, an English-born Australian painter.

Below -“Slumbering Sea, Mentone”; “Holiday sketch at Coogee”; “Shearing the Rams”; “Bailed Up”; “Mosman’s Bay”; “Portrait of Florence.”

Musings in Summer: Sei Shonagon (Japanese, c. 966 – 1017 or 1025)

“In life there are two things which are dependable. The pleasures of the flesh and the pleasures of literature.”

Below – Marilyn Monroe reading James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”

Contemporary Polish Art – Jacek Malinowski

Below – “Paesaggio”; “Primavera”; “mattina nebbiosa”; “Girasoli di agosto”; “L’ultima luce”; “Val d’orcio.”

A Poem for Today

by Shari Wagner

It begins in a cow lane
with bees and white clover,
courses along corn, rushes
accelerando against rocks.
It rises to a teetering pitch
as I cross a shaky tree-bridge,
syncopates a riff
over the dissonance
of trash—derelict icebox
with a missing door,
mohair loveseat sinking
into thistle. It winds through green
adder’s mouth, faint as the bells
of Holsteins heading home.
Blue shadows lengthen,
but the undertow
of a harmony pulls me on
through raspy Joe-pye-weed
and staccato-barbed fence.
It hums in a culvert
beneath cars, then empties
into a river that flows oboe-deep
past Indian dance ground, waterwheel
and town, past the bleached
stones in the churchyard,
the darkening hill.

Below – Ksenia Sandesko: “River in the evening”

Contemporary British Art – Nadia Attura

Below (digitally layered photographs) – “Western Cape”; “Ella”; “Cape Beach”; “Cactus Nights”; “Cactus Majorelle” (Aluminium Dibond Acrylic Glass); “Blue red high.”

A Poem for Today

“Planting Peas”
by Linda M. Hasselstrom

It’s not spring yet, but I can’t
wait anymore. I get the hoe,
pull back the snow from the old
furrows, expose the rich dark earth.
I bare my hand and dole out shriveled peas,
one by one.

I see my grandmother’s hand,
doing just this, dropping peas
into gray gumbo that clings like clay.
This moist earth is rich and dark
as chocolate cake.

Her hands cradle
baby chicks; she finds kittens in the loft
and hands them down to me, safe beside
the ladder leading up to darkness.

I miss
her smile, her blue eyes, her biscuits and gravy,
but mostly her hands.
I push a pea into the earth,
feel her hands pushing me back. She’ll come in May,
she says, in long straight rows,
dancing in light green dresses.

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