Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Freedom From Want

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Return to the Classics

William A. Nathans
Photograph with Self Portrait
[Source: Academy of Realist Art]

I posted a portrait of Dietrich von Hildebrand by artist William A. Nathans in my last post.

Here is more on Nathans (from these sites here and here):
- Academy of Realist Art, Toronto, Ontario
- BFA Illustration School of Visual Arts, New York, New York

- Academy of Realist Art, Toronto, Ontario
- Freelance Illustration Commissions
- Freelance Landscape Commissions
- Currently working on two commissioned portraits of
His Eminence Cardinal Justin Rigali Archbishop of Philadelphia

- Finalist for the Art Renewal Center’s 2006 Annual Juried Saloon Competition
- Connecticut Plein Air Painters Society at the Fine Art and Framing Gallery in Hartford, CT
- Mamaroneck Artists’ Guild Annual Small Works Show in Larchmont, NY
- Represented by the Mary Anderson Fine Art Gallery located on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia
- Finalist for the 2011 Portrait Society of American Competition
And from his Linked In page:
Fine Artist: oil painter
Fine Artist and Portraitist
April 2008 – Present (6 years 8 months)
Fine Artist trained in traditional oil painting technique working within the genres of portraiture, landscape, still-life and religious figurative works.

Spent 7 months of 2010 painting in Europe and completing 6 commissioned portraits and teaching two workshops in Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland

Currently commissioned to paint portrait of His Eminence Cardinal J. Rigali of Philadelphia

Currently working on new portrait commission of His Eminence Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Knights in Jerusalem.

Recently returned from traveling for three months throughout Ireland painting plen air landscapes as well as teaching 5 workshops in Portrait and Figure Painting in Dublin, Ireland.

Recently completed commissioned portrait of His Eminence Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, Current Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, now hanging in Vatican City.
And his CV:
William A. Nathans, Painter
b. 1981
- School of Visual Arts, BFA, 1999- 2003
- Academy of Realist Art Atelier, 2003-2006

Travelled throughout Europe, Great Britain and Ireland copying and studying Old Master works in museums

Commissions of Note: 2007-Present
- Invited to work in Zurich, Switzerland producing 11 portraits and several landscape paintings for private collections
- Commissioned to paint three Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, one of which hangs in Vatican City
- Currently Commissioned to paint His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, Austria and President of the Austrian Bishops' Conference
- Continue to work on private commissions globally

Teaching: 2008-Present
- Instructor at the Silvermine Guild of Art teaching Life Painting and Life Drawing
- Instructor of several workshops in Dublin, Ireland from 2010 to present teaching Life Painting and Drawing

Awards and Honors
- Finalist in the 2011 Portrait Society of America's International Portrait Competition held in Atlanta, GA

Additional Awards (Linked In page)
- Finalist with portrait "Sean" in the 2011 Portrait Society of America Competition.
- 2nd Place in Commissioned Portrait cat, for the Portrait Society of America Members Competition 2011
- 2nd place, CT Society of Portrait Artists "Faces of Spring" 08 "the Mackem and Tackem"
- Finalist, ARC 06 International Salon Show
Commissioned by His Eminence John Cardinal Foley to paint portrait hanging in Vatican City

And more on his training at the Acadamy of Realist Art, to study i the Classical Realist tradition. From the ARA website:
Will Nathans is a professional artist and instructor in the Classical Realist tradition who came to ARA after attaining a degree in Fine Arts. His vision was to refine his technical abilities and explore his passion for portraits and religious painting. After completing his studies at ARA, Will was selected over a number of international competitors to execute a commissioned portrait of His Eminence John Cardinal Foley in Rome.

Portrait of Dietrich von Hildebrand
Carbon Pencil on paper
By: William A. Nathans

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hildebrand: "a crisp, feisty writer...
as he fought against the emerging Hitler regime"

Portrait of Dietrich von Hildebrand
Carbon Pencil on paper
By: William A. Nathans

Below is a quote from the review of My Battle Against Hitler by George Weigel, from the online journal First Things (which I received on the Hildebrang Project Facebook page):
"Here was a Hildebrand I’d never met before: a crisp, feisty writer, who wore his emotions on his literary sleeve as he fought against the emerging Hitler regime and the Catholic intellectuals who were seduced by it." 

I keep saying (or thinking) that my trip to Steubenville, with all the obstacles I faced (here is an account of my trip to an email list), keeps unfolding in interesting, useful and encouraging ways as time goes by.

First, of course, is the invitation requesting my participation in the conference.

Then, I paid $30 for the book My Battle Against Hitler (it's an investment, I kept saying), which allowed me to participate in the online conference (which I've commented on here), and which allowed me to be a member of the Hildebrand Project, and also to make contact with a variety of people involved with the book, including book publishing.

Then, at some point in my presentation, or at least during the question and answer period, I made the connection between the nefarious world of the Nazis, intent on destroying the Judeo-Christian West, and our current Western-civilization-hating post-modern world. Here is my full presentation. Below, I've highlighted the parts where I say that we have been through this before.

And it was while I was doing the Trillium piece that many things came together.

Art needs to be local. We need to “see” what we’re representing. That art needs to have an aesthetic dimension - it has to be beautiful. And that there is a spiritual dimension to art, not always, not aggressively, but still subtly and present.

I realized that modern artists were discarding these elements, and creating works that people couldn’t identify with. That their purpose was not to create works with beauty, rooted in reality and with a transcendent element, but to recreate their own godless transcendence, their own reality, and they discarded beauty as something frivolous which distracted from their own serious messages (usually of doom and gloom). The less talented of them went on with post-modernism, which was a distorted assemblage of objects to produce their “ironic” commentary on the world around them.

And multicultural artists were throwing away the reality that surrounds us, in Canada, and were bringing their own reality for their far-away lands, imbued with a strange and alien aesthetics.

When I put these two together, multiculturalism and modernism/post-modernism, I realized what was at stake here was the art I know, which I have studied and participated in from a very young age ever since my fateful journey to that most beautiful city. It was Western art that was at stake, made vulnerable by these aggressive elements which were not at all shy about demanding what they wanted: “Hey, hey, Ho ho, Western Culture’s Gotta go.”

I didn’t clearly articulate this then, but soon after, I started a blog called Camera Lucida working on the words “Chamber of Light” where I (rather immodestly!) could shed some light on the world around me. And a few years later, after many postings, altercations with readers, and a maturity of my thoughts, I started my blog (about a year and a half ago) my blog Reclaiming Beauty.

I started the blog on January 1, 2013 (a new blog for a new year), and on February 5, 2013 I wrote at Camera Lucida:
I have started a new project. It is bigger than a website.

I hope to reclaim beauty from the avant-garde, nihilistic environment that surrounds us. Rather than fight it, I thought I would start a site that would ba study of beauty, a critique our our current beautiless, or anti-beauty, environment, as well as a place to give and receive practical guides and accounts on how to acquire and reclaim the beautiful. I hope to have a list of regular contributors to the site, who will eventually become a part of a bigger movement.
And on September 29, 2013, I posted at my Reclaiming Beauty blog my proposal for a book, but with a bigger vision of starting a Beauty Movement:
My book Reclaiming Beauty aims to document the contribution that beauty has made toward our Western civilization, from the earliest records of God’s love of beauty, to a young child who sees beauty almost as soon as he is born. Our civilization thrived, prospered and matured because of beauty. Our great artists, architects, writers, philosophers and scientists have always referred to beauty with awe and wonder. It is in the modern era that beauty began to be undermined and eventually neglected by artists and other intellectual leaders.

Reclaiming Beauty will show that the abandonment of beauty leads to the death of culture, and eventually society. Modern man’s neglect of beauty has initiated the cult of ugliness, leaving us with bleakness and nihilism.

But, people want beauty. And they will surround themselves with some kind of aesthetic quality. Still, beauty is the business of the knowledgeable. The man on the street may be able to recognize beauty, but he would not be able to explain why it is beautiful. That is the task of the experts.
With Reclaiming Beauty, I aim to present my ideas, observations and analyses on beauty, and to provide a guide for recommendations on how to remove oneself from the nefarious influences of our beauty-rejecting world. This way, we can build a parallel world which will eventually form a growing movement of beauty-reclaiming individuals, who can start to shape a world where beauty is not minimized and rejected.
As I presented my ideas at the conference, I also said:
Our civilization thrived, prospered and matured because of beauty. Our great artists, architects, writers, philosophers and scientists have always referred to beauty with awe and wonder. It is in the modern era that beauty began to be undermined and eventually neglected by artists and other intellectual leaders. 
Reclaiming Beauty will show that the abandonment of beauty leads to the death of culture, and eventually society. Modern man’s neglect of beauty has initiated the cult of ugliness, leaving us with bleakness and nihilism.

I should add that this world of bleakness and nihilism is ultimately the Gottedammerung that the Nazis were so ready to leave us with.

We need to continue with the battle that Hildebrand thought he had completed. We need more Hildebrands. Each one of us needs to draw out that heroism, bravery, and innocence for such a cause.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Scent for the Holidays

My Burberry
Top: Sweet Pea, Bergamot, Orange
Middle: Geranium, Freesia, Quince
Base: Patchouli, Damask Rose, Rose

My Burberry perfumer Francis Kurkdjian says this about his scent:
...the fragrance was inspired “by London, an urban garden. You have the vibrancy of the city, so it is something contemporary. You have the garden. You have the flowers…and the art of gardening, which is very important for the British. The flowery aspect of the perfume comes from that idea of the garden after the rain. You have the lush wetness. You have the soil. You have the earthiness. All of these feelings.” As for his choice of notes, he said he wanted to evoke “the feeling of the light of London: clouds, wetness, rain, flowers.” He said the main flowers are roses and freesia, “which is a little bit spicy and adds brightness. Then geranium leaves, which give an herbal, almost minty, vibrancy to the perfume. Then from the back note, there are patchouli leaves and quince—a fruit that is between a pear and an apple. Very British. It is not fruity, fruity. It is fruity floral. Then on top you have linen and bergamot.”
My Burberry is as charming as Kurkdijian describes it. It is light, but not diluted, and sweet without being coying. The floral and fruity are well combined. I think it would make a good holiday scent.

The understated (base) notes of the roses carry the perfume through.

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"Sheep May Safely Graze"

Aria Four of Bach's Hunting Cantata: Sheep May Safely Graze.

San Francisco Early Music Ensemble Voices of Music
Sheep May Safely Graze, by J.S. Bach
Soprano: Susanne Ryden
Recorders: Hanneke van Proosdij and Louise Carslake
Viola da Gamba: William Skeen
Baroque chamber organ: Rodney Gehrke

The secular cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd! (‘The lively hunt is all my heart’s desire’, known as the ‘Hunt’ Cantata)...makes use of four solo singers, including two sopranos representing Diana and Pales. The instruments involved include two corni da caccia, recorders, two oboes and an oboe da caccia, basson, strings and continuo. Diana, in an opening recitative, sings of the pleasures of the hunt, continuing, in an aria appropriately accompanied by the two corni da caccia (hunting-horns), to declare hunting the pleasure of the gods. Later in the cantata, Pales, the goddess of sheep and flocks, follows suit. Her recitative leads to one of the most famous of all arias, widely known in English as ‘Sheep may safely graze’ (‘Schafe können sicher weiden’), words that, in context, have no religious connotation. [Source]

Sheep may safely graze
Sheep can safely graze,
Where a good shepherd watches over them.
Where rulers are ruling well,
We may feel peace and rest
And what makes countries happy.

Schafe können sicher weiden
Schafe können sicher weiden,
Wo ein guter Hirte wacht!
Wo Regenten wohl regieren,
Kann man Ruh und Friede spüren
Und was Länder glücklich macht!

Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat

Monday, November 24, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Meaning of Words

From Stilettos (and mini-skirts) to Sneakers (and sweaters): The Fox Five Bunch

The irritating commentary group The Five comes on periodically on Fox News. I don't know their schedule, and if I find them when I tune in, I listen for a while to see if they have anything worth listening to. Sometimes they do.

The infantile Greg Gutfeld, who almost always wears sneakers and some kind of sweater, and has his hair disheveled like a toddler, did have something to say yesterday.

The topic was Obama signing the two executive orders on Friday to delay deportation of illegal immigrants [KPA: I didn't know he signed them on Air Force One. Is this another of Obama's nonchalant and casual attitude when it comes to the laws, and the governing, of the United States?], then heading over to Las Vegas to rally support for his actions.

About two thirds into the video (below), which just has a portion of the hour-long program, Gutfeld talks about words that he says have been "abused." Gutfeld thinks he's a bit of a wordsmith, and adds his own embellishments usually at the end of the program, with words he declares "banned."

Gutfeld makes his case for a brief half a minute between 13:18 to 13:40 before he got interrupted. I've transcribed what he said:
America has a hard time trusting a President when the language keeps changing, when terrorism is "workplace violence." If breaking the law is considered "dreaming" [KPA: as in the Dream Act, Well Done Gutfeld!], consider the implications. Could theft be "A wish to own something?" We're screwing with the language so that the logic allows for a redefinition of abuses. So that almost anything could mean can mean anything. Rioting could mean...
Gutfeld was on a playful roll, but his dry co-hosts (one of the women is a lawyer) bring in the clearly obvious problems with these politicized words, and they drowned the insightful and amusing commentary Gutfeld was making. I think if he went any further, he would have brought up Orwell, 1984 (and probably Animal Farm), and how they relate (because they do!) to our present time.

The problem with "The Five" is that there are too many of them, they take themselves too seriously, and they are pedantically obvious. There is not much insight to be found there, except occasionally with Gutfeld, and if you can bear his sophomoric presence. Dana Perino is the most serious of the group, although she doesn't take herself as seriously as they do themselves), but she is strangely self-conscious. I don't think she has much practice in front of the camera like her other co-hosts, and she's probably thrown off by their juvenile banter.

Gutfeld has his own blog, so he probably has (or will have) this idea about Obama's words completed and written up somewhere.
Posted By: Kidist P. Asrat