Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Below is a wonderful essay on what we can learn from listening to trees from Hermann Hesse. The late Nobel Prize winning writer included this in his 1920 book, Wandering: Notes and Sketches. There is a lot to like here but I was most struck by the line: Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

Give it a read for yourself:

For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.

Read Full Post »

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

MALONEY: Why do you have confidence that you can … tell your dad not to worry?

LT. COL. VINDMAN: Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I’ve served and defended. That all of my brothers have served. And here, right matters.

MALONEY: Thank you, sir.

Applause breaks out.

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

Those short few sentences above from the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during yesterday’s Congressional Impeachment Hearing pretty much sums up what the stakes are in this hearing.

This country, as a nation and each and every one of us as individuals, has to decide if he is correct in the statement that here in the United States, right still matters.

We have to ask ourselves a simple question: Do we want to live if a country that lives by the hardset and time honored values of rightness, of truth, of honor, of duty?

Or do we want to live in a country where those values are negotiable and subject to the situation at hand and the person involved? A country where those values don’t really apply so long as you have enough power or privilege or connections to be able to shrug them off?

Listen, I am not naive to think there haven’t been plenty of situations in our past where power, privilege and connections have overpowered our values at times. But in the past, that sense of honor, duty and rightness has always somehow persevered. This nation has not always operated in absolute truth and rightness and honor but the hope is that we lean that way, that we somehow keep struggling and pushing in that direction.

That hope, that continual trending toward rightness, is the basis for any exceptionality we might claim.

But this feels different.

It feels like a defining moment for us and our future. It feels like there is part of us who have taken control and wish to ignore these values, who find them inconvenient and restraining to achieving their own aims.

They continue to move away from answering to a sense of rightness or duty. How do you reconcile that as a nation going into the future?

If the falsehoods and corrupt intent we have witnessed are not impeachable, not subject to oversight and being called out, where does that leave us for the future? Where do we then draw the line between what is right and wrong?

If we cannot stand up for what is right and true now, we may be looking at a future where we may not get the chance to do so.

So, ask yourself and answer honestly: Does right matter here still?

 

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

I wrote the above yesterday. Last evening I then caught the end of one of my favorite movies, Watch on the Rhine. It’s a film set in Northern Virginia, around Washington DC, during World War II and concerns the daughter of a well-to-do family who has come home from Europe with her family.

I am not going to go into  the whole plot here but I will point out that her husband, Kurt Muller played to perfection by Paul Lukas, is an anti-fascist fighter and a leader in the European resistance against the Nazis. This character is one of my favorite characters on film, a man driven completely by rightness and truth, willing to sacrifice everything to fight for the lives and rights of other men.

Seeing this powerful portrayal of such an honorable character stood in stark contrast to the performance I witnessed earlier by the republicans during the hearings. There was no honor shown by these men, no sense of rightness or dignity. These are not people who are willing to sacrifice anything for anyone. They are only willing to protect their own interests and those of their buddies. Screw everyone else.

They are the antithesis of rightness.

To give a quick example, Lt. Col. Vindman and his family are under 24/7 protection from Us Army security forces and they are looking to move them into a secure location because of threats against the Lt. Col. from Trumpists spurred on by these jackals. This man, an immigrant who came here as child, has served and sacrificed for this nation for many years. He wears a Purple Heart for being wounded in action. He has honorably risen to the highest levels of military diplomacy and has been characterized in reviews by his superiors as being “brilliant” and in the top 1% of all the military. Yesterday, this man was subjected to all sorts of attacks on his character and motivations for simply coming forward and pointing out actions that he saw as being wrong.

He was simply doing his duty. Like Kurt Muller from the movie, he was simply doing that which is right.

I would put Lt. Col. Vindman’s sense of rightness and honor up against that of all the republicans in that hearing who have seemingly sold their souls, their dignity and their honor for god knows what in order to protect a vile and small man. A man without honor or loyalty who will throw them to the trash heap without a thought when they no longer serve his personal needs.

As I said, the contrast is stark.

Black and white. Good and evil.

Right and wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Rock That Boogie

Cool and gray sleepy Sunday morning. Feels like winter is taking hold even though it’s still autumn. Way too many things waiting for me on the to-do list and not much gas in my engine. Need some juice. Something to get the blood racing and the brain cells firing again.

Looking back through my blog, I can’t believe I haven’t played this song in the eleven years or so I’ve been doing this. It never fails to bring back a little life in me. It’s Rock That Boogie from Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. They’ve been around for what seems like forever, churning out their high energy brand of piano driven western swing/boogie woogie/ alt country western blues. I am sure there are a few more genres and sub-genres that they fall into but it’s mainly just music for good times.

And that’s just what I need this morning. Here’s Rock That Boogie another favorite, Too Much Fun. Hope it kickstarts your Sunday.


 

Read Full Post »

Weak/Strong

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

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

Sun TzuThe Art of War

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

I seriously doubt that what we witnessed yesterday in our capital was an example of strength of the kind  that Sun Tzu was talking about in his classic The Art of War.

For one thing, I seriously doubt that the seemingly unstable person that raged and spat alongside the Finnish President yesterday has ever read the book.

Secondly, it seems as though this person is incapable of anything but psychological projection, incapable of seeing anything but his own motives and actions in the actions of others.

Since he lies, everyone lies.

Since he is corrupt, everyone is corrupt.

Since he is not loyal to his country, everyone else is traitorous as well.

He sees his greed, his selfishness, his anger and a laundry list of other negative traits only in the form of others.

I am convinced that the next generation of psychology textbooks will chronicle the behavior of this president* as the perfect example of projection.

For me, all I saw yesterday was an incredibly weak man flailing away. His bluster and rage only made him seem small, stupid and trite.

That is the face of our nation right now and so long as it continues, we, too, seem small and stupid and trite.

I leave you with some words the ancient Greek playwright Euripides, a warning traveling from the past:

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

“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.”

EuripidesOrestes

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

Read Full Post »

Hey, I am upping the ante on the prizes for the free drawing at today’s Gallery Talk at the West End Gallery. In addition to the painting, Night Oath, shown above, that will be given away, I am going to be giving away a car.

That’s right- a car.

It’s the sweet 1970 AMC Gremlin shown here on the right.

Okay, it needs a little work, maybe a little buffing here and there.

Maybe a new air freshener to hang where the rearview mirror used to be.

And a passenger seat. And tires.

And a new transmission.

But on the plus side, it does come with a roof rack and and a couple of old lawn chairs in the back. And a family of squirrels that lives under the back seat.

You know, just reading this has brought me to the realization that I can’t bear to part with such a gem. We’ll have to get along without this as a prize today.

So, here’s the deal:

Gallery Talk begins at 1 PM at the West End Gallery on Corning’s beautiful Market Street.

It is free and open to everyone. 

There will be a little talk along with a lot of questions taken and a few answers given in return.

At least one painting, Night Oath, will be given away in a free drawing at the end of the talk.

There will be some other goodies given away. No Gremlins, I swear.

There will be refreshments.

We anticipate a decent sized crowd so get there early to claim your seat and get signed up for the drawing.

I guarantee that it will be less painful than a poke in the eye. Might even be fun.

Hope you can make it in. If so, I’ll see you in a little while. Good luck!

 

Read Full Post »

Last Night…

Many, many thanks to everyone who made it out to last night’s opening for Moments and Color at the West End Gallery. It had a wonderful turnout and there were many folks who I didn’t get a chance to speak with, unfortunately. And that was with me staying at the gallery until almost 8:30. My apologies to anyone who I didn’t get a chance to get to.

There were plenty of new faces and many old friends, some who came in from quite a distance. I can’t express my appreciation for their willingness to make the effort and take the time to travel to the gallery opening.

Thank you so much.

Of course, the Multitudes paintings got a lot of attention, particularly the boat pieces shown here at the top. I was pleased by the overwhelmingly positive response to this new work. But I was also happy with the equally enthusiastic response to the other work in the show.

It was a good show and a good evening. Many thanks…

The show hangs until August 30 and on Saturday, August 17, there will be the Gallery Talk that accompanies this show. There will plenty of details shared here on that event in the weeks to come. Hope you can make the talk.

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 »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: