japonisme: 7/6/08 - 7/13/08

10 July 2008

women and nature

(and to finish off our series of (mostly) american women printmakers,
i offer you....)

“I am thinking of the communion I felt as a child in the Sierra under trees or in fields of wildflowers. I told no one what I felt. In my small world, no one referred to mystical experience, even in the church I attended.

I had not yet read Emerson, nor had I heard the story of how, as a young man, when John Muir discovered a cluster of rare orchids, called Calypso borealis, growing by the edge of an icy pond, deep in the outback of Ontario, he sat down and wept for joy, feeling that he ‘was in the presence of superior beings who loved me and beckoned me to come.’”

Susan Griffin 1
from HOUSE of STONE and SONG

Because we live in a country where
no one I know
sings to God in the streets,
I’m given to wandering past margins of fern and wild honeysuckle,

following the burr of the tanager, that lazy, drowsy
dozy buzz of triple notes
tied close together. I’m tethered and led, legato,

deeper in, beyond cedar field and hardscrabble, through
grapevine, bullbrier,
gloves of rhododendron and laurel lamp-lighting my way

over Indian graves and wetland, hellebore and hummock,
into the tall trees where
that flash of pure fire finds its high-branch summer niche.

Perhaps I want to be the crazy woman
who lives on roots and berries
in the only woods abandoned to her....

— Margaret Gibson 2

Far from the sea, the lilies grow
and listen for the sea.

Long ago, they bloomed near the shore,
and the small crustaceans,
red-backed crabs,
scurried under the pale exotic plants
that rocked on thin stems
half-flower, half-shell.

It’s a long way from the beginning.

The heavenly beasts appear in the sky,
since the first seeds fell on the fields
in a green rain,
and men climbed from the water
on two legs,
unsteady as baby goats.

In the wind now
the white flowers rise and bend
in the grass, like the heads of sheep.
Behind the mountains
the waves rise and fall. The stars open.

No one has left the garden.

— Barbara Jordan 3

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07 July 2008

when the child was a child

When the child was a child
It walked with its arms swinging.
It wanted the stream to be a river
the river a torrent
and this puddle to be the sea.

When the child was a child
It didn't know it was a child.
Everything was full of life, and all life was one.

When the child was a child
It had no opinions about anything.
It had no habits.
It sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair
and didn't make a face when photographed.

When the child was a child
it was the time of these questions:
Why am I me, and why not you?
Why am I here,
and why not there?
When did time begin, and where does space end?
Isn't life under the sun just a dream?
Isn't what I see, hear and smell
only the illusion of a world before the world?
Does evil actually exist,
and are there people who are really evil?
How can it be that I, who am I,
didn't exist before I came to be
and that someday
the one who I am
will no longer be the one I am?

When the child was a child
it choked on spinach, peas,
rice pudding
and on steamed cauliflower.
Not it eats all of those
and not just because it has to.

When the child was a child
it once woke up in a strange bed
and now it does so time and
time again.
Many people seemed beautiful then
and now only a few, if it's lucky.
It had a precise picture
of Paradise
and now it can only guess at it.
It could not conceive of nothingness
and today it shudders at the idea.

When the child was a child
it played with enthusiasm
and now
it gets equally excited
but only when it concerns
its work.

When the child was a child
berries fell into its hand as only berries do
and they still do now.
Fresh walnuts made its tongue raw
and they still do now.
On every mountaintop it had a longing
for yet a higher mountain.
And in each city it had a longing
for yet a bigger city.
And it is still that way.
It reached for the cherries in the treetop
with the elation it still feels today.
It was shy with all strangers
and it still is.
It awaited the first snow
and it still waits that way.

When the child was a child
it threw a stick into a tree like a lance,
and it still quivers there today.

Peter Handke

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06 July 2008

seeing red by moonlight

okay so after yesterday's excursion into the universe of american printmakers, i found myself awed and engaged by this, and learned things i never knew. so beautiful, and she's one of my favorite printmakers.

but i found myself also thinking about the other thing i mentioned, and so i decided to go check out what old stinky-pants was up to.

i was again shocked and saddened by these crimes. if you want to see frances h gearhart, who, i ashamedly admit, i only just recently learned was not a man!, and the extraordinary beauty of her work, check this out.

listen to what this pretender says: " The American Arts & Crafts movement placed a significant emphasis on the home, and particularly on the quality and the individuality of the decorative elements placed in it. Equally important was the fundamental philosophical principle that equated living well with living simply and honestly. For this reason, the artists and craftsmen of the period sought to express these values in their designs while achieving the highest quality in their craftsmanship. . .ideals that were at odds with the developing mass production of the machine-driven Industrial Revolution. It is these artists’ commitment to quality and hand craftsmanship that has inspired me to create the works of art that I offer.

Each of my Arts & Crafts Collection images is based on extensive historic research of the styles of noted artists of the period, such as graphic designer Dard Hunter, potter Hannah Borger Overbeck, the California Plein Air painters and woodblock artists Bertha Lum, Frances Gearhart and Gustave Baumann. My artistic goal is to create images that incorporate the styles of these noted artists, while recalling the pictorial flatness and color intensity of the Japanese prints that were so popular and influential during the period. And my ultimate goal in creating this collection of period-inspired paintings and lithographs for the Arts & Crafts interior is to achieve the same high quality of craftsmanship that characterized the Craftsman ideal and to do so at an affordable price.

[My work] celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments of the California woodblock print artists, ca. 1900-1940. At the core of their artistic expression lay hand craftsmanship, from the carving of the printing blocks to the hand printing process on hand made paper. It is this level of hand craftsmanship that is the purest expression of the Arts & Crafts period as a whole. Hand craftsmanship is implicit in everything that the Arts & Crafts movement stood for at its genesis and still stands for today."

i wonder if tracing is a hand craftsmanship skill.

lastly, she goes on to say, "Also included with this work of art is an official Certificate of Authenticity, which is signed personally by A____ M______ on the date your work of art is produced. For your reference, a complimentary copy of the artist's biography is also included."

i'm telling you, i'll put up with quite many things, but you fuck with arthur wesley dow and i lose it.

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