Thanksgiving 2017

Bob Dylan 1964
from the The Times They Are a-Changin’ album:

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s the battle outside raging
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changing

Bob Dylan 2006
from the Modern Times album we have the song Things Have Changed:

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

That’s Dylan talking about the changing times. Indeed. You know, these days, they talk about the partisan issues between those that sit on either side of the aisle. Maybe they should be calling the ‘aisle’ what it really is – a canyon. We are now in the era of America First. I think  the reality is that we are in the era of Me First.

The USA used to be a kinder and gentler place. Not so much now. In my own words, I think I can both see and feel the social fabric of our nation tearing beneath our collective feet right now. We should all  have a sense of a gathering storm. And truly that’s not good. But maybe it is necessary.

And if that isn’t change…then tell me, what is?

Remember what Gore Vidal once said about this country – The United States of Amnesia.

But not everything changes. As has been my tradition on this blog, I choose the American holiday of Thanksgiving to offer my thanks for all that we have that is good, and for all that we have that is wonderful. Of course, art is a purely subjective art form. Art may be understood and appreciated, or just understood, or just appreciated, or neither understood nor appreciated.

My annual Thanksgiving post may or may not show Thanksgiving-themed art works. The artists may or may not be American. My tastes in art are varied – and I don’t stick to just one school of art.  Impressionist, Classic reality, modern, portraits and landscapes, or even historical paintings may show up in this post.

As will the vibrancy of bold colors, or paintings in which the colors are more important than the subjects. If a work of art appears in this annual post, it is because I like what I see, and wish to share with you. I can only hope that you will have similar feelings.

I have chosen the American painter Jeremy Lipking to open this post. Lipking is a 40 something from Santa Monica, CA, and he is most easily described as an American realist.

This first Lipking painting is called Whispering Pines. I love the soft color mix of this work, and I hope you can feel both the awe and the mystery that this work evokes. Just look at the foreground details and then, behind the woman, in the distance, we only have the colors and shape of the ridge of the hills meeting the sky with just the slightest bit of detail.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2016

Well another year has passed into history, and is now a topic for books and historians. It’s been as tumultuous a year as I can remember. But that’s real life – I’m not making any such statements about the world of art. The year I referenced is not a calendar year but rather a Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving year. As has been my custom for this blog – I celebrate Thanksgiving by bringing you some art to admire, to think about, to be puzzled by – or to simply make you say WOW!

I Hope you will enjoy the art. I don’t think that there are any Art Galleries that are open today Thanksgiving Day), and maybe not too many museums, if any. So you may enjoy the selections here without taking to our nation’s roads, highways, or airports. So without further prologue or warm up lets get into it.

Art is a medium that strikes each of us differently. It doesn’t matter if you see the art on a museum wall, or in some one’s home, or even in an art gallery – your collective reactions are as different as the topics artists choose to memorialize.

The painting at the top of this post is called Old Glory. The artist is the Texan, Clinton Broyles. I led off with this work even though I know that not everyone is a fan of guns and or whiskey. But that leads us to the natural follow-up by Mr. Broyles. Yes, there’s still a gun, marked down from a rifle to a handgun, but the whiskey is not present.

This second one from Broyles is called Texas Two Step.

In case you didn’t get the score, the NFL’s hottest team right now is the Dallas Cowboys who today, Thanksgiving Day, won their 10th straight game. These two Broyles paintings also represent an art genre called Still Life – which is a kind of painting that has gotten very little coverage from me over the years.

Our next batch (of three) are about people looking at art. The first is called Puzzled and is by Chris Chapman who hails from Bournemouth in the UK. The next one is by Pauline Roche and its title is Discovering the Degas. Pauline was born in London but grew up in Australia. Her specialty is what she calls people in quiet contemplation that reveal a connection between the people and their surroundings

We’ll let Mr. Chapman close out this section with a work similar to Puzzled. He calls it Head Scratching. Even the dog isn’t sure of what he’s looking at.

Chapman is an illustrator and has done a whole series of similar works called Fraud Monet, Roy Lichtensteinish, and Jason Pillocks.

Switching gears, or should I say the type of art, let’s look at some paintings from the school of classic realism. The first two are by painter Alfredo Rodriguez.

The first is called Free Trapper. Just look at the details of his fur hat, or his beard.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2015 – Every Picture Tells A Story

Thanksgiving gets a lot of people out of the house. According to the travel organization AAA and Homeland Security, nearly 47 million of our countrymen will take to planes, trains, and automobiles for a journey of 50 miles or more for this long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

vlcsnap-00018Count me out. I’m staying at home. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles has become a Thanksgiving must see film, and it was on tonight on the SyFY channel. I watched it as I usually do, and it is still funny. This film came out in 1987, nearly 30 years ago, and now, it is as ubiquitous on Thanksgiving as turkey, stuffing, and cranberries.

The news has been exceedingly depressing lately, and what with many of TV’s best shows having concluded their fall seasons, pickings on TV will come down to sporting events, or reruns.

But there are antidotes for many of the depressing events in the news, or the growing noise coming from our Presidential candidates. With each day, the Mouth That Roared (Mr. Trump) grows increasingly more shrill. Mr. Trump has decided to play the hate card again and again, which in one sense plays to people’s fears, and in another sense, his words have marginalized many in this country thereby pushing them in another direction. Mr. Sanders continues to wallop us again and again. Ben Carson seems to back pedal just as fast as anyone in recent memory. Mrs. Clinton has the experience and the know how, but is she trustworthy? It really is too much.

But there is one thing that I do on Thanksgiving to get away from all of the above. I trot out some art that appeals to me, and call it my Happy Thanksgiving gift to my readers.

Back in 1971, British rock and roll musician Rod Stewart and Ron Wood wrote a song called Every Picture Tells A Story. While this song has nothing to do with art lyrically, and has been called rude, racist, and sexist it does begin with a reference to self-discovery. And what could be a better message on this Thanksgiving holiday than to state that while the answers to the world’s ills will not be solved by self discovery, many of the issues that live within us surely could use some looking at.

Every Picture Tells a Story is the title of this post. I’ve been writing about art every Thanksgiving since 2009, and am proud to do so once again.

By The Fjord

By The Fjord

We will start with Norwegian artist Hans Dahl. Now  Mr. Dahl died in 1937 – almost 80 years ago.

Andreas Admiring the View

Andreas Admiring the View

There was a period in his life (in the 1890’s) when his work came in for considerable criticism. Painting and the world of art was turning away from Romanticism and heading for Modernist themes.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2014

It has been my custom to share some of my favorite art on Thanksgiving. While the paintings that follow are not Thanksgiving themed, they do take me back to my younger days. As a kid growing up in Huntington, on Long Island, we lived near wooded areas. We also watched TV shows about cowboys, and there were even small forts that were built in those nearby woods. So it is no surprise for thoughts of the west to stay with me all these years later. In those days, a good many films were produced that featured Cowboys and Indians. In fact hiking in the woods has stayed with me even as an adult.

These days, I don’t live in the west except through art. And here in Sarasota, Florida, there are neither hills or forests. We do have some hiking trails and those help somewhat. While I like horses, the last horse I rode was near Shenzhen in China. And it wasn’t that many years ago; maybe in 2008. So you shall see a good number of paintings that include horses. But that’s not all – some of the paintings will take you back to the days of the Old West, or others will be family oriented as is this holiday.

If you can remember the Thanksgiving holiday from when you were a child, you will note that those family gathering have changed. Families do get bigger, but they also get smaller with the passage of time. So thinking about those good old days will be good for the spirit. I have a good many paintings for you, so let’s get started. NOTE: Following the end of the text – there is a link to a video I made of almost all of these images.

I’ll lead with Of Many Paths They’ll Take by Steve Hanks. I don’t think I was this small when I started to navigate pathways. And I didn’t have a small sister either. But doesn’t this painting have an aura of wonder to it. We don’t know where these kids will end up. Nor do they know how their lives will turn out. As a companion to the above painting, Steve Hanks also did one (below) involving a walk down a different path and he called it A Path to Follow.

A Path to Follow Steve Hanks

Speaking of paths, beside those that wend through a forest or the country, there are pathways to people’s hearts. But there are also warpaths.

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Art Warms the Heart and is Food for the Brain

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.

That's Mats Hummel (#5) who scored the winning goal for Germany

That’s Mats Hummel (#5) who scored the winning goal for Germany

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.

David Luiz of Brazil just after scoring the decisive goal

David Luiz of Brazil just after scoring the decisive goal

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 moves into the Wimbledon Final against Djokovic

Federer moves into the Wimbledon Final against Djokovic

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.

Waiting for Grand Entry by James Bama

Waiting for Grand Entry by James Bama

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.

Hopes And Dreams by Alfredo Rodriguez

Hopes And Dreams by Alfredo Rodriguez

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Happy Thanksgiving – 2012

As has been my custom on the Thanksgiving holiday, not only do we give thanks for everything we have, but I like to share works of art with you. Sometime the paintings have a theme to them, and other times they have been included just for being both masterful and magnificent treats to look at.

For Thanksgiving in 2009, I covered the art of James Bama, an American artist born in 1926. As a younger man he was an illustrator, but he moved to the west and began a second career. His works are most often described as photo-realistic. I love his work, and he was my first choice for a Thanksgiving tribute. You can find my post on Bama here: Happy Thanksgiving – 2009.

in 2010, I mixed the modern with past with regard to the subjects. The artists however, are definitely in the present. I went with Steve Hanks and Alfredo Rodriguez, Tim Cox, and Martin Grelle. It was an eclectic mix of trappers and hunters, frontiersman and Indians, and people caught up in the Gold Rush of the mid 19th century. Steve Hanks was included for the sheer beauty of his famed watercolor paintings. That post can be found here: Thanksgiving 2010.

Last year, I focused on a single artist – Robert Duncan. Duncan’s works bring memories of when we were children. It was a kinder and gentler world when I was a kid, and Duncan’s works capture the essence of those innocent days. Though I didn’t grow up on farm, there were farms nearby. The paintings are displayed in a video accompanied by the classic music, Sunshine on My Shoulder, by John Denver. You can find this post here: Happy Thanksgiving 2011.

This year, I’ve decided to bring forth, in honor of Thanksgiving, a number of paintings made by a number of different artists. I hope you will enjoy these works as much as I do.

Leading off we have a quartet of great pieces of art by Alfredo Rodriguez. While these paintings are not specific to the holiday of Thanksgiving, they do represent how the artist feels about being grateful, and appreciative. The first one (above) is called They Are Coming Duke. A man and his dog are watching for the arrival of their family. Note the continuity of the stripes on his pants despite the folds and creases, and the intricate work done for the dog’s fur. Below, a lonely old-timer prepares his food. This one is called First Meal of the Day. I love the rich color of his shirt, the hanging powder horn, and his gun belt which seems awfully close to the fire.

Directly above we have a third classic by Alfredo Rodriguez. He calls this one Counting His Blessings. As you can see, this isn’t about food, instead we have an old prospector who has just discovered that his panning for gold has brought for some dividends. Is it the same prospector as the one in First Meal of the Day? Might be. While you ponder that – check out the wear and tear on his boots. The last Alfredo Rodriguez painting (below) is called Grateful Hearts.  This one portrays simple homesteaders about to sit down for a meal of a cooked bird.

Next out of the chute is a portrait. The (above) painting is called The Pearl of Sante Fe.  The artist – Carrie Ballantyne. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it would have to be, make that – must be – included in this Thanksgiving post. There’s something about the way the hat, the braid, the scarf, the drop earring, and the woman’s expression that just captivates. Note the lack of a background.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2011

As I’ve done over the past few Thanksgivings, I am happy to present a look at some excellent art. Now in the image to the right, Norman Rockwell gives us a look at his famous Thanksgiving meal. This painting was created way back in 1943. That’s nearly 70 years ago. Yet it seems as though this painting is even more beloved now than it was back then – but I’m guessing about that. I only know that I loved it when I first saw it – and still do. Actually – this is encore showing on my site of the painting.

Rockwell died a little more than 33 years ago in 1978 but this image has long been associated with the American holiday, a day when we can remember back to our younger days, and a day when we can give thanks to all of those who came before us and pushed their way across this country when the way west was uncharted, as well as unknown, or those who came even before the settlers of what would become our western states. Those folks would be the Pilgrims.

A newer work of art, albeit from a period that even predates the Rockwell, but one that is similar in nature and theme is a Thanksgiving Dinner memorialized by artist Alfredo Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s style is classic realism and his art is rich in details, so much so, that any of his works are immediately identifiable as his, and unforgettable.

Rodriguez’s Thanksgiving Dinner (above) lacks the background depth that we usually associate with his works. But as it can bring up thoughts of Thanksgiving holidays with a large family gathered at a table, we can just imagine our own holiday dinners, or we can feel the nostalgia of knowing that all across the country today, and all across the country going back a few hundred or more years – similar scenes were to be found in millions of homes.

This year, I was fortunate enough to find an advertisement in the November/December issue of Art of the West magazine. The painting below was the focus of the ad for the artist . The painting is called Fishin’ at the Bridge, and it was created by Robert Duncan, whose gorgeous paintings are at once all about families, nature, and of gentler times. This advertisement led me to look up the artist on Google.

Robert Duncan, on his website has said,

 “I decided years ago to paint the things that I cared most about. That decision has brought me a lot of joy and satisfaction and I’m especially grateful that my family has been such an important part of all of this.

I grew up in the suburbs, but every chance I got, I would sneak out to nearby fields to watch the birds or play in the creek, and the summers I spent on my granddad’s ranch really taught me how much we all need Nature in our lives. But change is all around us. The family farm is disappearing at an alarming rate. Development and sprawl cover fertile fields by the minute. I want my grandchildren to be able to walk through a field and hear a meadowlark call. We don’t all have to live on a farm, but to pass by and see the cows grazing or just to know that there are wild places being kept wild makes our lives better. In a way, my paintings are a call to think about the things that have touched our lives and hope that we might all be willing to do our part to save these things for future generations.”

So to honor Thanksgiving 2011, have a look at the video below which displays the glorious art of Mr. Duncan.. Thanks to Mr. Duncan for his brilliant, wonderful, and nostalgic art, which is presented via a video accompanied by the classic and nostalgic music of Sunshine on My Shoulder  co-written and recorded by John Denver. The song was released as a single in 1973. The second video, also featuring Mr. Duncan’s art is the song, Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days, recorded and sung by The Judds, and written by Jamie O’Hara in 1986.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

In America today, we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. As has been my custom for a few years, on this day I offer my thanks to the explorers, pioneers, settlers, and frontiersmen and women, who long ago sailed across the seas and then trekked overland to build their futures in the land we call America.

While many of us will spend today watching football, and then carving a roast turkey and sharing a meal with our families, like the family to the left in the classic Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting from 1943 …

… we can be thankful for this day off from our work. But we are fortunate that there are many others who will do their jobs today to make our holiday enjoyable while we give thanks.

On this day I set aside my film reviews and my looks at Japanese bikini beauties which are my usual topics. But my way to say thanks is to share some beautiful art with you. On this day, I offer a look at some of our best artists who portray both the Old West as well as the modern day West of America. Though many of us live and work in cities, there is the charm and the allure of living in the west where there are more opportunities to see trees and mountains, wild life, and much of the bounty that nature provides us with. Let’s get started.

Steve Hanks - Road Less Traveled

Our first artist for today is Steve Hanks. He has been called the best American watercolorist. His topics are often women and children, but he has also been drawn to the sea shore. Rather than simply conveying a specific message in each painting, Hanks gives us a chance to explore our own memories and emotions. Hanks describes his works:

“My paintings speak to the vulnerability that we all feel from time to time. They evoke nostalgia, transporting us back in time. All art is an escape to somewhere you want to be or a feeling you want to have. People see different things in my paintings because we all have different backgrounds and feelings.”

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Recently I watched the movie, The Hunt for Red October (1990). This is a real man’s movie filled with submarine warfare, geo-politics and its offspring – political brinksmanship, as well as great heaping gobs of pure testosterone. There’s no sex or romance in this tale, in fact there may not even be any speaking roles for women in the movie.

As the movie begins, we learn that the Captain of The Red October, which is the USSR’s newest and most technologically advanced nuclear powered submarine, has disobeyed his orders, and is heading for the United States. The question is – is he defecting or is he a madman who will bring about Armageddon by firing nuclear war heads at major US coastal cities?
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