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President’s Day

A few presidential quotes to celebrate Presidents Day:

However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. 

– George Washington

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If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence. 

John Adams

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To waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed. 

– Theodore Roosevelt

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The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.

-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

-John F. Kennedy

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I don’t care. I believe Putin.

-The 45th President* of the United States

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The last one here is significant because it is one of the very few times on record that the current placeholder has actually spoken the truth.

Happy Presidents Day?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stolen Car

Want to keep it short this morning as I want to get right to work on a piece that is on the easel. And that desire to go right to the brushes is a good thing, an indicator that a groove is coming.

So, for this Sunday morning here are a couple of noir-ish photos to accompany one of  my favorite songs, Stolen Car, from the 1980 album ,The River, from Bruce Springsteen. The mood of this song, especially within its organ and piano lines, always moves me.

Good painting music.

Have a good Sunday…

The Sail

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“He in his madness prays for storms, and dreams that storms will bring him peace”

― Mikhail Lermontov  (1814-1841)

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Maybe you didn’t see it yesterday and if not, good for you. It was an awful and uncomfortable thing to behold.

Witnessing madness always is. And that is what we were watching and experiencing.

It brought to mind the line above from the 19th century Russian (fitting, I guess) poet, Mikhail Lemontov, speaking of the sailor who believes that since the calm always follows the storm that the calm only comes because of the storm.

That’s the sort of logic with which we are dealing. One that believes that chaos brings order.

Hopefully, we can ride this storm out safely until there is calm.

Or until someone capable can wrest the wheel from the hands of a mad captain who seems bent on continuing to ride into storms.

The line above is actually a translation from the Russian that is often attributed to Leo Tolstoy since he included it in his The Death of Ivan Ilych. I believe a character was quoting the Lermontov line and people over time have come to believe that Tolstoy originated the line.

The line comes from a Lermontov poem, The Sail. There are many translations and not all use the exact wording though the meaning is much the same in all. Here’s one tranlation:

 

The Sail

Gleams white a solitary sail

In the haze of the light blue sea.—

What seeks it in countries far away?

What in its native land did leave?

 

The mast creaks and presses,

The wind whistles, the waves are playing;

Alas! It does not seek happiness,

Nor from happiness is fleeing!

 

Beneath, the azure current flows,

Above, the golden sunlight streaks:—

But restless, into the storm it goes,

As if in storms there is peace!

 

Karsh/ Blue Guitar

There is an exhibit currently hanging at the Rockwell Museum in Corning of photos from photographer Yousuf Karsh, who had an incredible ability to capture the essence of his subjects. Many of his shots of the celebrated figures of the 20th century are the best known images of those folks. I saw an exhibit of his work years ago and was really inspired by it. It played directly into a piece from my Exiles series at the time that I wrote about here back in 2008 that I am sharing again below.

The Karsh exhibit at the Rockwell Museum in Corning hangs until May 5.

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Blue GuitarThis is another of the paintings from the Exiles series, a piece titled Exiles: Blue Guitar. This was larger than the other paintings in the series and was the most intricate in design. It was the only piece to show a full body, more or less. The crimson sheets beneath the figure are certainly not typical of my work. Even the blue guitar was an anomaly. I think these things, in themselves, make this a distinctive painting and one that is perhaps the one piece I most regret letting go.

I remember painting this piece back in ’96 with great clarity. The face was based on a portrait of the Finnish composer Sibelius taken by Karshthe famed photographer. I had seen the photo at a wonderful and powerful exhibit of Karsh portraits at the MFA in Boston that knocked me out. Karsh had a knack for revealing the essence of his subjects in a single image.

I was immediately taken with the image of Sibelius’ face. It expressed bliss, but not joy. A painful bliss, perhaps an ecstasy tempered by the knowledge that the world is an imperfect one and that this moment of grace is a fleeting one, soon to be gone. It was exactly the expression I saw for my guitarist and one that I wanted the whole piece to convey.

This painting was the centerpiece of my first exhibit many years ago and remains vividly in my memory. Eventually, I went back in and darkened the background which made the guitarist pop even more. But the images of that change have been lost over the years which I greatly regret. This piece sold years ago and I now have no idea of where this painting ended up. I hope that whoever possesses this piece appreciates all that it represents and gives this sad, blissful guitarist a bit of attention now and then.

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Note: The opening for the for the 25th Anniversary exhibit at the Principle Gallery is next Friday, February 22. I mistakenly wrote here the other day that it was tonight because, well, I get confused and make mistakes sometimes. My apologies for any confusion. Hope you can make it to the show next week!

Vulnerable Love

 

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“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

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For Valentine’s Day, some sage advice from C.S. Lewis on love and one of my favorite love songs, Two Angels from Peter Case.

Hoping you have a good day.

There is an opening next Friday, February 22, [I originally said the opening was on the 15th because, well, sometimes I get confused]of a special exhibition at the Principle Gallery that marks 25 years of providing high quality artwork in historic Alexandria, Virginia. It has been my great pleasure and honor to be part of this great gallery for 23 of those years and I am pleased to have several pieces in this special show.

Like many of the artists it represents, the Principle Gallery has grown and evolved over those 25 years, becoming one of the most prominent galleries in the country with artists and collectors from near and far as well as another gallery branch in Charleston, SC.

But even with its growing influence in the gallery world, its strength remains the personal and warm welcome it offers to anybody who wanders through the doors of its location in the historic Gilpin House at 208 King Street. There is never a sense of pretense or condescension and the entire staff does all it can to make all feel comfortable. It is all about allowing the gallery visitor to experience the artwork in a way that allows them to relax and fully absorb the art in a personal fashion.

And they have done that successfully every day for the past twenty five years. And I sincerely thank and applaud hem for that. I hope that if you’re in the area you can stop in to celebrate the occasion with them on Friday evening, February 22. The opening reception begins at 6:30.

Unfortunately, I can’t make this opening. But I will be there in June for the opening of my 20th annual solo show. Hope to see you then!

 

Loving Truth

Blaise Pascal Death Mask

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Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

–Blaise Pascal

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We live in a time of falsehoods. It is a time where some choose to deny the obvious truth and instead believe the desired lie.

Their opinion, their own sense of belief, has more value to them than all the mountains of truth and evidence that could be stacked against them.

How do you change such people? How do you make them see truth where they see only falsehoods?

You don’t change them.

You can’t change them.

You can only maintain a love for truth and continue to shine a light on it.

Then you must use that truth to defeat those who believe in the current false reality.

No persuasion will ever convert these people.

It must be defeat. Complete and devastating defeat.

A defeat so absolute that some will, in time, begin to understand how far they had veered off the path of truth and reality.

Some will never see the truth and will forever see themselves forever as victims.

Victims of a conspiracy. Victims of circumstance.

Always victims.

How this defeat comes about, well, that is yet to be determined.

But defeat must come.

Sounds harsh, I know.

And in the end, it may turn out to be harsh.

But to let truth be obscured by falsehood, to accept and live in a world completely based on lies, would prove to be far more severe and brutal.

The truth must continue to be loved and spoken.

Truth must prevail.

Amen.

Thus ends today’s sermonette.

Thanks for letting me vent and special thanks to French mathematician, theologian and general brainiac Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) for today’s quote and all of his various and many contributions to truth and the betterment of mankind.

 

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