Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2019

I am sharing a favorite of mine for this week’s Sunday morning music selection. It’s from composer Philip Glass and is a piece originally from a soundtrack of the 1985 film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. The full title of this particular selection is String Quartet #3 Movement VI (also called Mishima Closing) and is performed by the Dublin Guitar Quartet. I have listened to this piece performed by a variety of artists and groups with different instruments and all are wonderful. But I like this version and it just seems to fit this morning.

The story behind the film that this piece is taken from concerns the life of the Japanese novelist Yukio Mishima. Born in 1925, Mishima was considered one of the most important writers of modern Japan. That would be notable enough on its own but it was the end of his life that more often than not associated with his name.

Mishima was an avowed nationalist of sorts and for many years trained physically and mentally according to the bushido, the code of the samurai. He formed a civilian militia with the purpose of defending the emperor in the event of a communist revolution and takeover. On November 25, 1970, Mishima and four members of this militia, the Tatenokai or shield society, entered a military base in Tokyo and barricaded themselves in the office of the base commandant, who they detained, tied to a chair.

Mishima then went out onto the balcony and delivered a manifesto he had prepared to the soldiers of the base who were gathered below. His speech was intended to inspire a coup within the ranks that would restore the powers of the emperor.

But the soldiers only mocked and jeered at Mishima.

Finishing his manifesto, he went back into the commandant’s office and performed seppuku or harikari, a suicide ritual in which he would stab himself and then be beheaded with a sword by one of his aides. The aide failed in three attempts at the task of beheading Mishima and another took over the task. This aide then performed the same act on the first aide who had failed in his original task.

It was a strange event and one of which I have to admit I was not aware until several years ago. I also have never seen the film but Glass’ soundtrack is powerful and beautiful. Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

Read Full Post »

**************************

“…if only these treasures were not so fragile as they are precious and beautiful.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

****************************

Read Full Post »

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to artists (those who paint) is to paint the pictures they want to see. For me, there is no better way to illustrate this than to look to the work of Henri Rousseau. The post below is from five years back and points out the fearlessly unique quality of his work. I’ve added a few images along with a lovely animation of his work that had slipped my mind.

***********************

Henri Rousseau- Self Portrait -1890

Henri Rousseau- Self Portrait -1890

I wrote a tiny bit on this site about Henri Rousseau over five years back [ten years now], showing a few of  his paintings that I count among my favorites. Over the years, that little blogpost is consistently my most popular page, receiving a considerable number of hits each day. It’s a testament to the  power of his imagery, both in its ability to draw in the viewer and in the timeless quality it possesses in its evocation of mood. I know those are the two qualities that drew me to Rousseau and the qualities I have sought to emulate in my own work.

But going through a large book of his work yesterday, I was stuck by one of his greatest attributes, one that I had overlooked: his fearless approach to painting. His work never tried to be something that it was not and always displayed his hand proudly, always declaring itself as his. It gave even his lesser works a strength that is undeniable and true.

It was evidence of a supreme belief in the manner in which he was expressing himself.

That’s not a small thing. I know for myself, there is a constant struggle to maintain my own voice and vision, to not try to conform to the expectations and definitions set down by others in my work. To remain fearless like Rousseau.

henri_rousseau_-_a_carnival_eveningRousseau was born in 1844 and worked most of his life as a civil servant, a clerk who collected taxes on goods going into Paris. He didn’t start painting until he was in his early 40’s and was not a full-time painter until he was 49.  He was basically self taught and worked for the next seventeen years as a painter, blissfully maintaining his fearless work even though he was ignored or disparaged by most of the critics and much of the art world in general.

Yet, among the painters of his day he was tremendously influential, directly inspiring other giants such as Picasso and many of the the Surrealists. I think they, too, were drawn in and empowered by his fearlessness.

I think he might have been one of the great examples of someone painting the paintings he wanted to see. And that, too, is not a small thing. This and his bold approach are constant reminders to painters who want to maintain their unique voice, who don’t want to be lumped in with genres and styles and schools to stay fearless. To believe in their own voice.

I will try.
***************

henri-rousseau-sleeping-gypsy Henri Rousseau the dream 1910

Read Full Post »

Have a lot of things to get at this morning so I wasn’t planning on  writing anything. But I came across a painting from an artist unknown to me that I thought I would share. The artist is Todros Geller, a Jewish American printmaker/painter who was born in Ukraine in 1889 and, after immigrating to Canada in 1906, in 1918 moved to Chicago which remained his home until his death in 1949. I don’t know much about Geller but found this painting intriguing along with some of his other works which I urge you to look into.

Strange Worlds, above, is a 1928 painting which depicts an older man, most likely a newspaper vendor under the steps of the elevated rail in Chicago. The composition really pulled me in as did Geller’s treatment of his colors and tones. Just a wonderful piece.

I also found a nice video on this work that better interprets the painting and explains the background and history behind it. I am normally not thrilled with these kinds of interpretative art videos but this was well done and really felt that the information provided here filled out this particular painting nicely. Please take a few minutes to watch and see what you think.

Read Full Post »

The Real Grinder

Whenever I come across an image of this small painting, Grind, from back in 2006 I think of my friend, Joe DeAngelo, who along with his wife, Kathy, runs the Kada Gallery in Erie.  I was greatly saddened yesterday to learn that he had passed away on Monday night at an Erie hospital.

I have been with their gallery since 1996 and while Kathy is the unmistakable and unrelenting energy source of the gallery, Joe has always been the engine, the working force, that keeps it going. He gets things done. So, when he chose this painting for himself many years ago, I was very pleased. Joe told me that he identified with this painting because it really represented how he saw himself– as a grinder, a shoulder against the wheel worker who persisted through all conditions until the job was done.

Joe was a grinder in other ways, as well. He had medical issues for many years including a kidney transplant. In recent years he suffered a major heart attack that drained him physically. Yet, grinder that he was, he refused to stop working every day at the gallery where he was, with his lifetime of engineering experience, a meticulous and top notch framer. As his condition worsened in recent months, he still made his way to the gallery each and every day, against the protestations of doctors and family, because he felt it was his duty and purpose.

As I said, Joe was a grinder.

I am going to miss Joe’s straight forward manner along with his balanced blend of crustiness– he didn’t suffer fools easily– and great humor. He had a great laugh that came quickly.  I always enjoyed my time spent chatting over coffee with him when I was at the gallery. A truly good guy with a big heart and a deep love for his family.

Along with many other folks, I am going to greatly miss my friend, Joe. Hopefully, he can now put down that rope and rest.

Read Full Post »

*******************

It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So, we must dig and delve unceasingly.

-Claude Monet

*******************

Busy this morning so I thought several haystack paintings from Claude Monet might fill the bill. Those and the quote above which immediately spoke to me when I first came across it.

Art has served as a way forward for me and part of that is allowing myself the time to observe and reflect. I have found that once that becomes ingrained as habit, the digging that comes with this observation and reflection becomes, as Monet points out, unceasing. Actually, more like obsession, occupying nearly every waking moment of each day, along with more than a few others in dreams.

Writing it out, this compulsion sounds awful. But it’s not something I even notice. It just becomes part of one’s natural state of being. And I greatly prefer this state of being over those that existed for me before I began this life in art.

Enjoy the Monets. I have work to do.

 

 

Read Full Post »

***********************

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.

“So it is.”

“And freezing.”

“Is it?”

“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

― A.A. Milne

***********************

The reactionary part of me has me feeling a bit like Eeyore this morning.

It’s a morning filled with way too much reactionary behavior from both sides for something of which almost everybody still has little, if any, knowledge. The facts are still unclear and there are many,many questions to be answered and loose ends still to be tied up before any of us should be too optimistic or pessimistic. For now, refrain from gleefully high-fiving or angrily punching holes in the wall.

So, while I am feeling a bit gloomy like my friend Eeyore this morning and feel that it can only get worse, I also know this is only a short summary by a biased reader at the end of one chapter in a long story still waiting to be told.  We can’t close the book now thinking we know how it will all end when there are so many pages and chapters ahead.

We must be patient and wait, hard as that is, for the story to unfold.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: