japonisme: 1/18/09 - 1/25/09

24 January 2009

growing a painting

peas in a pod who likely never met.

carl moll and william wendt were born not that far apart (but far enough to assume they never met).

carl moved to vienna and william to the united states. they both painted.

moll's life was lived from 1861 to 1945, wendt 1865 to 1946. to place them in art history, we see that bonnard's life was 1867 to 1947. (i'm moved by the fact that he died the year i was born.)

thus, these impressionists were second generation, and the differences show.

both have incorporated the flatness and suggestion of outline that the spread of japonisme had predicted, along with its asymmetrical design and frequent forward-weighted balance.

brush strokes were often blunt for both.

they love similar colors, and the mountains, and the last moments of the perfect earth.

perhaps the fact that both chose the relatively unusual square format, suggests that both believed boxing the past might preserve it.

william wendt moved to the golden state and painted it with deep reverence for the rest of his life. he helped to found the california art club.

carl moll helped found the vienna secession, and won the golden state award!

the tide of the movement lifted all boats; where one was moored was inconsequential.

teachers impart vision to students who sow it like seed across the land.

fertility abounds.

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23 January 2009


when i was living in paris for a bit, a big song on frenchMTV was brenda fassie's 'my black president.' nelson mandela had been released from prison after 27 years. he revived his role of president of the also long-banned ANC, and though he would not become president of south africa for several years, her song rang true.

she'd have loved to live to see us now.


The year 1963
The people's president
Was taken away by security men
All dressed in a uniform
The brutality, brutality
Oh, no, my black president
Him and his comrades
Were sentenced to isolation
For many painful years
For many painful years
Many painful years
Of hard labour
They broke ropes
But the spirit was never broken
Never broken
Oh, no, my, my black president

Hmm maa
Hmm maa

Hmm maa
Hmm maa
Ahh, nyu ye uyee huu

He broke ropes
But his spirit was never broken
Never broken
Oh oh oh, my president

Now in 1990
The people's president
Came out from jail
Raised up his hand and said
'Viva, viva, my people'
He walked the long road
Back, back to freedom
Back, back to freedom
Freedom for my black president

Let us rejoice for our president
Let us sing for our president
Let us pray for our president
Let us sing, let us dance
For Madiba give us freedom
We thank you Lord
For listening to our prayers
Night and day
Oh oh oh, my president


[Zulu /Xhosa lyrics]

My president
I will die for my president
I will sing for my president

I will stand and say
Viva, viva, viva, viva, viva, viva

© Brenda Fassie

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20 January 2009

truly a new year, a new century finally begun


Each day we go about

our business,

walking past each other,

catching each others’ eyes

or not,

about to speak

or speaking.

All about us is noise.

All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din,

each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem,

darning a hole in a uniform,

patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky;

A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words,

words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed;

words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone

and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side;

I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe;

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce,

built brick by brick the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign;

The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love,

love beyond marital, filial, national.

Love that casts a widening pool of light.

Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp --

praise song for walking forward in that light.


Jan 20, 2009 12:45 ET

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