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I’m out the door this morning but wanted to at least acknowledge St. Patrick’s Day with a little traditional Celtic music from the Chieftains.

This video features O’Sullivan’s March and has some stunning shots of the Irish scenery, especially that rugged coast.

Enjoy and if you’re of the mind, raise a Guinness in honor of St. Pat today.

I might do just that.

Klimt Music

Lately, when I have been very busy, I’ve been sharing some videos of artists’ work set to music.  For example, I’ve shared videos of the works of Edward Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton in recent weeks.  It’s always interesting to see artists work set to music, especially when they seem to complement one another.

Well, I am busy again today but want to share a nice video featuring the work of Gustav Klimt put together by a Brazilian musician, Juliano Cesar Lopes, who creates musical scores for films under the name JCSL Studio Recording. He has produced a number of short films like this one as a showcase for his skills. I like his work on this short film and hope you will as well.

Enjoy…

Sapere Aude!

“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude!- ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.”

― Immanuel Kant,  What Is Enlightenment?

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Sapere Aude!  From the Latin for Dare to know.

I came across the passage above from the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant and felt immediately that it was a great match for this new painting.  In fact I am calling this piece, 11′ by 15″ on paper,  Dare to Know (Sapere Aude!)

The Red Tree here is removed away from the influence and shading of the other trees and houses in the foreground, out of darkness and into the light.  There is a light about the Red Tree and a sense of freedom in the openness of the space around it. It is free to examine the world, free to seek the knowledge it craves, and free to simply think for itself.

It’s a great idea, this concept of enlightenment and one that we definitely could use today.  Too many of us form our own base of knowledge by relying on the thoughts and opinions of others, often without giving much consideration as to their truthfulness, motives, or origins.  Or we shade our base of knowledge with our own desires for  how reality should appear, holding onto false beliefs that suit us even when they obviously contradict reality.

In short, there is no enlightenment based on falsehoods, no way to spin darkness into light.  Enlightenment comes in stepping away from the darkness of lies and deceptions to see the world as it is, with clarity.  It means stripping away our own self defenses and admitting our own shortcomings, prejudices, and predispositions.

It may not always be what one hoped for but it is an honest reality. And maybe that is enlightenment, the willingness to face all truths with honesty.

To dare to know.

Sapere Aude!

A Little Benton

Last week I shared a couple of videos of the paintings of Edward Hopper set to music.  I thought that I’d do the same this week for  the work of another of my favorites, the great American Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton.

I’ve always loved the rhythm and movement of the elements in Benton’s paintings, in even his most remote landscapes.  They seem to be filled with potential energy and the landscape becomes a living, breathing figurative element in his work.  That is a trait that I try to emulate in my own work.

This video features his paintings set to the music of late American composer Walter Piston‘s Symphony #6, Movement #4 as performed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as directed by Leonard Slatkin.  It has that sound of youth, motion, and energy that is often associated with America in the late 19th/early 20th century.  Plus it has Benton’s work.

Good stuff…

Another Sunday morning which means it’s time for a little music.  I thought that for this week’s choice I would go with something a little further off the beaten track, going all the way up to Regina, Saskatchewan to grab this tune from the group The Dead South.

The song, In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company, is a song that I stumbled across awhile ago.  I thought it was catchy and found the video engaging and fun.  I’ve listened to it several times since and thought it would be a good song for today.

The accompanying painting is titled Confession and is from my Outlaws series.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a decade since that group was painted.  It was a relatively small and short lived series but I find myself going back to this group on a regular basis.  Sometimes it’s just to look at the imagery and other times it’s to see how the narrative that I see in the image has changed over time.

There are pieces in the group where the narrative remains constant and others like this piece are a bit more ambiguous and open to new interpretations. This little painting always make me think.

Anyway, take look, give a listen and don’t worry if you think you’re going to Hell– there will be plenty of good company. Have a good day.

Talking to Kids

I spoke with a group of  about 60 third grade students on Thursday at the Big Flats Elementary school.  Earlier this year, their art teacher, Joanna Martinec, had used my work in some of their lessons and they were excited to learn that I lived in the area. Ms. Martinec sent me an email with some images of their work and a list of questions that they had asked. I offered to come and speak directly to the kids to answer their questions.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I don’t deal with a lot of kids but I have to admit that it was a lot of fun.  The kids were totally engaged, well behaved, and very responsive.

One of my favorite moments was when I was telling them about how I was about their age when I first thought about wanting to be an artist and that one of my main reasons was that I didn’t feel like people ever heard what I was saying.  I asked if any of them ever felt that way, that nobody listened to them, and they answered with a hearty “yes“, almost every single one of them in unison.  That brought back my own memories of being in their position so many years ago, about wanting to be heard and to be taken seriously.

I felt really connected to those kids at that point and wanted to really hear all of them.

I did a short demo of my wet method which was not as effective as I had hoped, mainly from a logistical standpoint. It’s just hard to show it well to a large group.  We had a camera that sent the images to a large screen but it just didn’t show as well as I would have liked and I wasn’t adept at using it. But I was able to do a couple of things that got some ooh’s and aah’s and I think the kids ended up liking it anyway.

We finished up with a question and answer period.  I’ve done many gallery talks over the years and understand how hesitant and self-conscious people– by that I mean adults– are in asking questions.  There was none of that with this group. The kids’ hands filled the air and they followed up with great questions and fun comments about what they liked or what they were doing with their own art. We had to stop because of the time but about half of the kids still had their hands in the air to ask questions.  If it had been possible, I would have stayed and answered every single one of their questions.

It was so much fun talking with these kids and hearing their views and their questions.  They had awareness and understanding with an openness that was without cynicism.  That’s a refreshing combination.  It was very inspiring for me.

I think I may have found my target audience.

Thank you to the teachers and the staff at the Big Flats Elementary School for having me and to Joanna Martinec for doing such a great job with your kids. I had a great time and hope the kids did as well.

Retreat

Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.

Marcus Aurelius

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I am not sure that I am 100% sold on these words from Marcus Aurelius.

I think it’s a wonderful idea to think that you have the ability to retreat to an inner sanctum of peace, a safe haven that isolates you from the troubles and turmoil of the outer world. But is it so? Can you retreat inward and leave the outer world behind?

Can you climb onto that island and pull up the ladder behind you?

I think there must be folks who can do this, can block out the world and find the tranquility of the soul described by Marcus Aurelius. I think they must be either much more evolved than me or foolhardy because I’m just not sure that it’s in me at this point.

I would love to set my worries, fears, and furies adrift and climb that ladder, never to see them again.

But that’s not the way I am nor is it the way of the world.

Chaos finds a way of always drifting back to our shores.

But maybe this island of retreat is not about completely isolating oneself, not pulling up that ladder forever.  Maybe it’s in climbing up for a brief period of time to discover those moments of silence and absolute stillness that allow those wounds inflicted by the world to heal.

The world is still out there and will soon return but perhaps there is balm in the quiet of the present moment.

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The painting here is a new 6″ by 12″ canvas that I am calling Retreat.

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