Today was a day that saw Germany go to war against France. As did Brazil against Colombia.
Not on battlefields that left bodies destroyed, but rather on pitches of green grass.
I’m talking about the FIFA World Cup in Maracano Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, and the Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. Germany prevailed 1-0, Brazil eked out a 2-1 victory, with both of those teams heading into a semi-final match. What was destroyed were the hopes of France and Colombia to proceed deeper into the World Cup Championship.
There was more warfare today on another patch of green grass. This time the location was the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. Roger Federer of Switzerland squared off against the Canadian Milos Roanic in the semi-final of the Wimbledon Men’s Championship.
Federer won in straight sets, and neither player lost any blood. Federer will play for the championship against Novak Djokovic on Sunday morning in what has been called ever since I can remember Breakfast at Wimbledon at least on this side of the pond. In London it is decidedly after breakfast.
In the USA, July 4th celebrates the anniversary of American Independence. While it is a national holiday and there are parades, and fireworks, some folks will be at work. But for most of the country it is a day of parties, outings, and celebrations. Did I forget to mention the NASCAR Race at Daytona tonight?It is also a day when many Americans, those not at the beach, or the mountains, or at work, do their favorite things.
Here, annually on July 4th, as well as another American holiday, Thanksgiving, I present some art works by American artists. These great paintings may not all be about patriotic fervor, or about activities you have ever done; but I believe they represent a handsome example of Americans enjoying themselves, or at least – doing what they do to maintain their families and their homes, and their hopes and desires.
I am going to begin this year with a painting by James Bama. It is called Waiting for the Grand Entry. Now if you aren’t sure of what The Grand Entry is, it is how every rodeo begins. In short a procession of the contestants and other riders that follow the flag bearers.
In this painting, Bama spotted Kenny Claybaugh as he waited at the beginning of a junior rodeo in Cody, Wyoming. Bama has commented that he was struck by the colorful combination of the yellow rain slicker, the dark glasses and the American flag. Incidentally, I did a post on James Bama back in 2009, for Thanksgiving. Check it out here.
In this next one called, Hopes and Dreams we have another piece of breathtaking art by Alfredo Rodriguez. This grizzled prospector, like so many before him, followed his dreams deep into the American West in hopes of striking gold.
I find this painting to be just a marvelous work filled with inspiring details. Check out the wrinkles in the old man’s forehead, the wear and tear on his boots and clothing, and especially the fine work necessary to paint a detailed beard such as this. Alfredo Rodriguez believes that capturing the dignity of the human spirit is at the core of most of his paintings.
But July 4th isn’t just about bygone days and past eras. In some places, baseball is an activity that many people do on the July 4th holiday, either in the form a local softball game, or by attending a professional baseball game in cities across the land.
In this painting by Steve Hanks, a young player is discussing a pitch post-game with the umpire. Can’t you just hear the words the boy is likely saying, How could you call that pitch a strike? It was almost chin-high…and this is the charm of baseball. Strikes have been missed by batters or by umpires since the game began way back in the 19th century. It will ever be so. The title of this work is The Time to Listen.
Away from a dusty softball field, for many Americans, sailing is a July 4th activity. I’ve not had much experience sailing. Last fall I was in Hong Kong and a friend of mine was on board a sail boat in the Sail Races around Hong Kong Island. Or before that I was in Newport RI when a sailing regatta was held. I was once aboard a sail boat that went from Bali to Lemboggan in Indonesia, but that wasn’t a race so I am far from being a sailor.
In the painting above, called Reaching for the Finish, artist John M. Barber represents a sail race on the Lafayette River near Norfolk, Va. The setting is in the 1950’s, and the lead boat #506, is owned by Happy Hogshire. the third generation owner of Hogshire Sails which used to make canvas sails in the time of this painting. But these days, they make awnings, as well as Nylon and Dacron sails for pleasure boats. The days of commercial sail boats has long since passed.
It is not that far from the sail boat races to the beach. Our first beach painting is called A Beautiful Day. The artist is the impressionist Janine Salzman. While I don’t recall my earliest days at the beach, I do recall that my mother did not wear a bonnet. Nor did I.
Salzman say this about her art: Ever since I can remember creating an image on canvas has been some of the happiest moments in my life. The joy of experiencing something beautiful and sharing it with others using paint and color was and still is magic! Art is my passion and gift. And as such I honor and cherish it. It is this passion I try to convey in my paintings.
The next one is called Low Tide, and the artist is Robert Duncan.
Duncan was born in 1952 in a large family of 10 children. He grew up and spent his summers at a 10,000 acre cattle ranch in Wyoming. So it is no surprise that this painting contains the spirit of wonder at seeing the sea. For me the boy’s red tee-shirt is the stand out feature of the painting. I think the red really pops and adds a focal point for the viewer.
Staying with beach theme and the soothing sea, we next present Reflections of Love by Sandra Kuck.
Sandra describes herself as a ‘romantic realist‘. This specific painting is part of a series called Reflections of Love. The artist cherishes ties and especially the wondrous love between a mother and her child. In this work, a young mother and her precious little girl share a quiet moment as they stroll along the seashore. This mother’s love knows no bounds, just as the vast sea shimmering before them.
But Kuck doesn’t just do mothers and daughters, or sea shores, in the painting above, it is about a number of things, which just so happen to be in a row, and as the eyes track through this painting, called Flower Arrangement, notice how the picture begins with an artistic plate on the left, then comes the written music centered on the piano, then the arranged flowers, and finally the woman. All are surround by the leaded glass of the bay window. Just superb.
From there, let’s head out to the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose, Texas. In the paining called Taking Ten, artist June Dudley. describes the Jerry, the cowboy, as just taking a rest and giving the horse some moments without a man on its back. If you look carefully, you can see a yellow slicker draped over the back of the horse, behind the saddle.
Dudley describes herself as just a country girl. About her work, she says, I am very passionate about my art. I love painting! I love my subject matter! I describe my paintings as poetic landscapes. My colors are somewhat impressionistic and my scenes are realistic so I describe my work as impressionistic realism. I receive innumerable comments on my use of color, lighting, subject matter, detail, and my figures. All of the figures in my paintings are either family or very close friends,
Staying with the western theme, the next painting, by Ragan Gennusa, is called Red Top Scramble. This painting is most easily described as a cattle drive.
Gennusa was born in Rosebud Texas in 1944 which makes him around 70 years old. He was an all-state quarterback in high school and went to the University of Texas on a football scholarship. He studied art in college, and said that his training as an athlete taught him to value courage, tenacity, discipline, and the importance of character in the pursuit of life as well as an artistic career.
Today, the land Ragan lives on is in the hill country outside of Dripping Springs, Texas in the ranch house he built. Ragan paints mostly on commissions in a studio filled with a sense of the West. Gennusa says, “…after a particularly good day of painting, I walk out of my studio overlooking the beautiful Texas Hill Country and I truly feel that I am the richest, luckiest man on earth!”.
From Texas, it’s not all that far to New Orleans, where music thrives and is a part of every day life. Check out all that is happening in this work by Steve Hanks called New Orleans.
There’s the single girl walking, the three-piece ad hoc brass ensemble, what might be a parade or a funeral procession, and, on the far left, we have what looks like a wedding. But those are just the major events of this painting. Notice the puddles in the street from a recent rain shower, and also notice the patterned cement that everyone is standing on, and the details of the man-hole cover that is edging just into the foreground.
Artist June Carey grew up in a Pennsylvania farm-house which was “always alive with singing, laughter and a love of the arts,” says the artist. “My father, a voice instructor, introduced us to the steady flow of eccentric, larger-than-life characters found in his greatest passion–the dramatic world of the Italian opera.”
She says, “I painted my first vineyard scene in 1996 and, as time passed, this interest has taken me to the countryside of Tuscany, where I feel I probably lived in a former lifetime. My Italian opera theme song has never left my heart, and somehow life seems to have come full circle, to connect, again, the passions of my life.” While I like many of Carey’s wine vineyard paintings, for this post I am showing a painting called Cascade of Light, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe. I can imagine Carey setting up her easel, high above the waters and trees and waiting until the light was just right.
Next is another by Steve Hanks, and it has nothing to do with July 4th. This work is called Aspen Winter. I happened to be in Aspen one July. Some where on the way into Aspen, we were driving high up in what is called Independence Pass. We parked the car, and we were pretty far up, above the tree live. After scrambling up hill we reached a small plateau which at that particular moment, at that particular elevation, in July, we found ourselves right in the midst of a little bay snow storm. That’s right, a baby snow storm. It was so small that in our group of three people standing within 10 feet of one another, two of us were under the snow, and one person wasn’t.
In this painting, it is amazing what you can see if you look carefully, which is a trademark of Mr. Hanks. I noticed the breath of the horse on the left as it hits the cold air, the two street lamps each with three lamps, the name on the building on the right, Breckenridge – and that’s not even making a big deal out of the tire tracks in the snow.
Okay, just two more. Another by Steve Hanks is called Catchin’ Rain. I offer this one as the folks in the coastal areas and the outer islands off North Carolina, awoke this morning having had to deal with the Storm called Arthur. Here in Sarasota, FL, we had some rain. And this is par for the course in July. Which makes the painting a fine fit for my July 4th.
In this painting there are few things that stand out. One is that the young girl has different colored shoe laces on her duck boots. The second is the heart on the front of her dress. The last thing I’ll call to your attention to is the way Hanks has positioned the things that grow all around this young lady.
Our last painting in this artful July 4th posting is a work by Martin Grelle.
He calls it Tribute. About this painting Grelle has written: Painting this piece meant a lot to me. It is my tribute to all those who have given their lives for this country, whether they are or were military or not, and to all those who have risked their lives to serve and protect us as police, , firemen or emergency medical personnel – as well as a tribute by the soldiers in the painting to their fallen comrades.
While Grelle’s flag in the painting has the stars in a circle pattern with gold stars in the corners of the blue field, Grelle states that this wasn’t the actual American flag of the period of the painting, the 1880’s. The actual American flag of the period was quite similar – only with white stars in the corners. It came into existence on July 4th, 1877, exactly 101 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This flag would last until July 3rd, 1890.
I figure since this post, with its 15 great paintings, began with a painting with someone on a horse carrying our flag, this would be a fitting way to close this piece. Happy July 4th everyone!