The March 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee

 
 

National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website

 

 

In this issue:

Epidemic of Hate Crimes in U.S.

Radical Dream of Economic Rights

Bush's Budget Harms the Poor

Coretta Scott King's Fight for Equality

Disabled Tenant Faces Eviction in Marin County

Bob Mills: An Activist for the Long Haul

"Song of the Magpie": A Review

How Journalists Sanitize Deaths and Executions

"Ten Minutes, Then Jail" in Santa Cruz

Artists Help Homeless Children

"Warmth in Giving": Art of Elizabeth King

A New Book of Street Spirit Poetry

Homeless Youth Learns Empathy on the Streets

U.S. Is Truly an Orwellian Society

Stories and Fables from the Streets

Homelessness and Survival

Poor Leonard's Almanack: On Art and Artists

March Poetry of the Streets


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Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Poor Leonard's Almanack

ON ART AND ARTISTS

Quotations and original thoughts by Leonard Roy Frank

Street Spirit, March 2006

"Wet Night On Sutter Street." An artistic depiction of homelessness in San Francisco. Painting by Christine Hanlon, oil on canvas

1. Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.
BERTOLT BRECHT (German writer, 1898-1956), quoted in Michael Larsen, Literary Agents, revised edition, 1996

2. That's the trick for the artist: to present his material so that it doesn't put a ring around itself and stand there as separate from you, the observer. And that Aha! that you get when you see an artwork that really hits you is, "I am that." I am the very radiance and energy that is talking to me through this thing. In purely empirical terms it's called participation. But it's more than that: it's identification.
JOSEPH CAMPBELL (mythologist, 1904-1987), interview, The Hero's Journey: The World of Joseph Campbell, edited by Phil Cousineau, 6, 1990

3. Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others.
ALBERT CAMUS (French writer), "Socialism of the Gallows" (1957), Resistance, Rebellion, and Death, 1961

4. Real art is religion, a search for the beauty of God deep in all things.
EMILY CARR (Canadian artist and writer), 1936, Hundreds and Thousands, 1966

5. Art... should simplify. That, indeed, is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.
WILLA CATHER (writer), "On the Art of Fiction," 1920

6. The artist's struggle to transcend his pain can become the seed for many others' hope, transforming a personal journey into a vision for us all.
DIANE COLE (writer), After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges, 1992

7. It is not the artist's job to see that the work of art achieves recognition, but to see that it deserves it.
MARIE von EBNER-ESCHENBACH (Austrian writer), Aphorisms, 1880-1905, 1994

8. The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON (philosopher), "Inspiration," Letters and Social Aims, 1876

9. Many artists have said that when life itself becomes fully conscious, art as we know it will vanish. Art is only a stopgap, an imperfect effort to wrest meaning from an environment where nearly everyone is sleepwalking.
MARILYN FERGUSON (writer and philosopher), The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s, 1980

10. Original conceptions of reality are after all why we read poetry or look at art - to throw some light on our own lives and loves, or somehow to fathom man's fate, to find clues to the meaning of our still mysterious existence on Earth. We yearn for the epiphany that will reveal all.
LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI (poet), "Words That Redefine Reality," San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, 16 July 2000

11. All true art is an expression of the soul.
MOHANDAS K. GANDHI (Indian spiritual and political leader), quoted in Young India, 13 November 1924

12. The great artist is one whom constraint exalts, for whom the obstacle is a springboard.
ANDRE GIDE (French writer), "The Evolution of the Theater" (1904), Pretexts: Reflections on Literature and Morality, edited by Justin O'Brien, 1959

13. To rebel or revolt against the status quo is in the very nature of an artist.
UTA HAGEN (German-born U.S. actor), Respect for Acting, 1973

14. Great art is the expression of a solution of the conflict between the demands of the world without and that within.
EDITH HAMILTON (writer and scholar), The Great Way, 1930

15. The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is-it's to imagine what is possible.
BELL HOOKS (writer and poet), Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representation, 1994

16. In art, economy is always beauty.
HENRY JAMES (writer), "The Altar of the Dead" (1895), Preface, 1907-1909

17. It is the artists who make the true value of the world, though at times they may have to starve to do it. They are like earthworms, turning up the soil so things can grow, eating dirt so that the rest of us may eat green shoots.
ERICA JONG (writer), Serenissima, 1987

18. Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him.
CARL G. JUNG (Swiss psychiatrist), Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933

19. Your art is the Holy Ghost blowing through your soul.
JACK KEROUAC (writer, 1922-1969), quoted in James Lee Burke, "Seeking a Vision of Truth Guided by a Higher Power," New York Times, 2 December 2002

20. To be great, art has to point somewhere.
ANNE LAMOTT (writer), Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, 1995

21. I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius or something very small, comes to the artist and says, "Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me."
MADELINE L'ENGLE (writer), Walking on Water, 1980

22. Art can excite, titillate, please, entertain, and sometimes shock; but its ultimate function is to ennoble.
MARYA MANNES (writer), More in Anger, 1958

23. Art is the great refusal of the world as it is.
HERBERT MARCUSE (German-born U.S. political philosopher), quoted in New Society (British journal), 1969

24. Art, unless it leads to right action, is no more than the opium of an intelligentsia.
W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM (English writer), 1949, A Writer's Notebook, 1949

25. A bad artist almost always tries to conceal his incompetence by whooping up a new formula.
H. L. MENCKEN (journalist), "The Greenwich Village Complex," American Mercury, June 1925

26. The more perfect the approximation to truth, the more perfect is art.
MARIA MONTESSORI (Italian physician and educator), Spontaneous Activity in Education, 1917

27. Art is not cozy and it is not mocked. Art tells the only truth that ultimately matters. It is the light by which human things can be mended.
IRIS MURDOCH (Irish-born English writer and philosopher), The Black Prince, 1973

28. Art is the sex of the imagination.
GEORGE JEAN NATHAN (editor and critic), "Art," American Mercury, July 1926

29. The great end of art is to strike the imagination with the power of a soul that refuses to admit defeat even in the midst of a collapsing world.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (German philosopher, 1844-1900), My Sister and I, 1951

30. Is it not the artist who - like our dreams - dissolves the pretenses that hide us from ourselves, disclosing both our self-serving fantasies and our unsuspected potentialities?
DOROTHY NORMAN (writer), The Hero: Myth/Image/Symbol, 1969

31. Art does the same things dreams do. We have a hunger for dreams and art fulfills that hunger. So much of real life is a disappointment. That's why we have art.
JOYCE CAROL OATES (writer), quoted in Newsweek, 1970, requoted in Rosalie Maggio, editor, The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women, 1996

32. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.
GEORGE ORWELL (English writer), "Why I Write" (summer 1946), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus, 1968

33. Today, as you know, I am famous and very rich. But when I am alone with myself, I haven't the courage to consider myself an artist, in the great and ancient sense of that word.... I am only a public entertainer, who understands his age.
PABLO PICASSO (Italian artist), 1962, quoted in Duncan Williams, The Trousered Ape, 1971

34. All art is subversive.
PABLO PICASSO, quoted in Gerald Brenan "Writing," Thoughts in a Dry Season: A Miscellany, 1978

35. Art is a celebration of life.
HERBERT READ (English poet and critic), The Realist Heresy, 1952

36. Art: to nudge truth along a little.
JULES RENARD (French writer), journal, September 1908

37. The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (Irish playwright and critic), Man and Superman, 1903

38. What an artist is for is to tell us what we see but do not know that we see.
EDITH SITWELL (English writer and poet), 1929, quoted in Elizabeth Salter and Allanah Harper, editors, Edith Sitwell, 1976

39. Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.
SUSAN SONTAG (writer and critic), title essay, Against Interpretation, 1966

40. If you're an artist, you try to keep an ear to the ground and an ear to your heart.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (musician), Ed Bradley CBS interview, 60 Minutes, 21 January 1996

41. The bourgeoisie's weapon is starvation. If as a writer or artist you run counter to their narrow notions, they simply and silently withdraw your means of subsistence. I sometimes wonder how many people of talent are executed in this way every year.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON (English writer, 1850-1894), quoted in Lloyd Osbourne, preface ("The Death of Stevenson") to Weir of Hermiston, 1924

42. All great art... creates in the beholder not self-satisfaction but wonder and awe. Its great liberation is to lift us out of ourselves.
DOROTHY THOMPSON (writer), "The Twelve-foot Ceiling," The Courage to Be Happy, 1957

43. The highest condition of art is artlessness.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU (philosopher), journal, 26 June 1840

44. Let not the artist expect that his true work will stand in any prince's gallery.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU, journal, 1 July 1840

45. If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?
ALICE WALKER (writer), quoted in Evelyn L. Beilenson and Ann Tenenbaum, editors, Wit and Wisdom of Famous American Women, 1986

46. The sign of a Philistine age is the cry of immorality against art.
OSCAR WILDE (Irish playwright), lecture to the art students of the Royal Academy, 30 June 1883

47. It is Art, and Art only, that reveals us to ourselves.
OSCAR WILDE, quoted in "Noted with Pleasure," New York Times Book Review, 12 January 1992

48. Art begins where imitation ends.

49. Craft without art is possible but not art without craft.

50. Great art, by reflecting the reality that is and anticipating the reality that is to be, serves as a bridge between the two.

*************

Leonard Roy Frank is the editor of Random House Webster's Quotationary (20,000-plus quotes on 1,000-plus subjects). His "Frankly Quoted" column, distributed freely over the Internet every month, consists of 30-35 quotes and original thoughts, mostly about current events. To get on the "Frankly Quoted" listserve, send lfrank@igc.org your e-mail address.


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