Andrew Wyeth (July 12, 1917 – Jan 16, 2009)

Creator: Bill Ingraham/AP/Shutterstock 
Copyright (c) 1964

I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.

Wind from the Sea (1947)

If you clean it up, get analytical, all the subtle joy and emotion you felt in the first place goes flying out the window.

One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.

Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing – then a work of art may happen.

Up in the Studio

Bonnie Raitt, born Nov 8, 1949

I think people must wonder how a white girl like me became a blues guitarist. The truth is, I never intended to do this for a living.

How unthinkable that, in a country of such bursting plenty, so many people are facing ongoing hunger and poverty. If we are truly each other’s keepers, let’s support school lunches, food stamps, neighborhood garden projects, and so many other wonderful programs working to put an end to this cruel and needless blight once and for all.

Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there.

Those of us with a microphone who are blessed with the gift of being in the public eye have a special opportunity to give voice to all those groups whose activism is sometimes ignored or put on the back pages with the the dumbing down of television and the tabloidization of journalism.

Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.

I never saw music in terms of men and women or black and white. There was just cool and uncool.

There’s lots of flaws and frailties and cracks in the armor, and nobody wants to put themselves out there as some kind of Joan of Arc because none of us can live up to that, but I’m grateful to be a role model and be respected because I have a whole slew of people, men and women, that I feel the same way about.

I think my fans will follow me into our combined old age. Real musicians and real fans stay together for a long, long time.

Bonnie and John Lee Hooker

Bonnie and John Prine

Bonnie and James Taylor

Faith Ringgold, born Oct 8, 1930

“Creativity helps us realize that we don’t have to understand everything. We can enjoy something -feel it and use it- without ever fully comprehending it. No other creative field is as closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts.”

“You can’t sit around and wait for somebody to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it.”

“The great enemy of creativity is fear. When we’re fearful, we freeze up – like a nine-year-old who won’t draw pictures, for fear everybody will laugh.” 

“I had something I was trying to say and sometimes the message is an easy transmission and sometimes it’s a difficult one but I love the power of saying it so I’m gonna do it whether it’s hard or easy.”

Faith Ringgold in front of her quilt
Photo of Faith Ringgold by Kathy Willens/AP/Shutterstock 
Copyright: Copyright (c) 1993

Jazz Stories Quilt

Faith Ringgold was born Faith Willi Jones and grew up in New York City. The artist has said of her own upbringing, “I grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. This did not mean I was poor and oppressed. We were protected from oppression and surrounded by a loving family.”

Her father, Andrew Louis Jones, had been a minister, among a variety of jobs he held, and was a powerful storyteller. Her mother, Willie Posey Jones, was a fashion designer who had studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Both of her parents came from families that had experienced the Great Migration, the relocation of millions of African American from the rural south to the urban north during the first half of the 20th century.

Often unable to attend school due to asthma, Ringgold was encouraged in her artistic pursuits by her mother who also taught her how to sew and use patterns. Ringgold helped with her mother’s fashion shows, and said that, “She taught me how to stand up there and have a little joke and just feel comfortable with myself and to self-promote one’s work.” Her grandmother taught Ringgold quilting and the importance of the African-American tradition in telling stories, conveying messages, and creating community. Quilt making was a family tradition as Ringgold’s grandmother had learned the art from her mother, Susie Shannon who had been a slave.

During the period known as the Harlem Renaissance, Ringgold’s neighborhood was home to many African-American artists, writers, and musicians. She described her experience as “a wonderful childhood growing up in Harlem with many wonderful role models as neighbors. Among them were Thurgood Marshall, Dinah Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Aaron Douglass and Duke Ellington.” She grew up with a sense of vibrant creative possibilities, a strong sense of family and community, of artistic practice connecting generations and diverse histories, but also an awareness of segregation, racism, and economic inequities.

In 1950, intending to study art, Ringgold enrolled at New York’s City College but, because art was then believed to be an exclusively male profession, she was required to enroll in art education in order to study art. Characteristically, she took this obstacle as a kind of challenge to be overcome, as she herself said, “I have always known that the way to get what you want is don’t settle for less… I always knew I would be an artist.” Ringgold graduated in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and Education.

At City College Ringgold studied with the artists Yasuo Koniyoshi and Robert Gwathmey, and met Robert Blackburn, with whom she later collaborated. After graduation Ringgold began teaching in the public school system in New York and began working toward a Master of Fine Arts degree at City College. Earning her degree in 1959, Ringgold said, “I got a fabulous education in art – wonderful teachers who taught me everything except anything about African art or African American art, but I traveled and took care of that part myself.”

excerpted from: the art storyorg/artist/ringgold-faith/life-and-legacy

Betye Saar, born July 30, 1926

Betye Irene Saar is an African-American artist known for her work in the medium of assemblage. Saar has been called “a legend” in the world of contemporary art. She is a visual storyteller and an accomplished printmaker. 

“I am intrigued with combining the remnant of memories, fragments of relics and ordinary objects, with the components of technology. It’s a way of delving into the past and reaching into the future simultaneously.”

“As an artist everything I do has this thing, assembling things. assembling plants and sculptures and lanterns rocks and so forth…”

“I’m the kind of person who recycles materials but I also recycle emotions and feelings. And I had a great deal of anger about the segregation and the racism in this country.” 

Betye Saar is an assemblage artist who calls herself a conjurer, a recycler. In a way, her own heritage is a collage: African, Irish, American Indian.
Some of the above quotes excerpted from “Life Is a Collage for Artist Betye Saar” on NPR

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Mystic Sky with Self Portrait , color offset lithograph with paper construction , 1992

Date: 1972

Betye Saar, “The Liberation of Aunt Jemima” (assemblage, 11 3/4 x 8 x 2 3/4 in.), 1972.

The “Black Contributions” invitational, curated by EJ Montgomery at Rainbow Sign in 1972, prompted the creation of an extremely powerful and now famous work. In her article “Influences,” Betye Saar wrote about being invited to create a piece for Rainbow Sign:

“My work started to become politicized after the death of Martin Luther King in 1968. But The Liberation of Aunt Jemima, which I made in 1972, was the first piece that was politically explicit. There was a community centre in Berkeley, on the edge of Black Panther territory in Oakland, called the Rainbow Sign. They issued an open invitation to black artists to be in a show about black heroes, so I decided to make a black heroine. For many years, I had collected derogatory images: postcards, a cigar-box label, an ad for beans, Darkie toothpaste. I found a little Aunt Jemima mammy figure, a caricature of a black slave, like those later used to advertise pancakes. She had a broom in one hand and, on the other side, I gave her a rifle. In front of her, I placed a little postcard, of a mammy with a mulatto child, which is another way black women were exploited during slavery. I used the derogatory image to empower the black woman by making her a revolutionary, like she was rebelling against her past enslavement. When my work was included in the exhibition ‘WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution’, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2007, the activist and academic Angela Davis gave a talk in which she said the black women’s movement started with my work The Liberation of Aunt Jemima. That was a real thrill.”

Now in the collection at Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, The Liberation of Aunt Jemima continues to inspire and ignite the revolutionary spirit.

John Prine (Oct 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020)

Writing is about a blank piece of paper and leaving out what’s not supposed to be there.

I just tried to come up with some honest songs. What I was writing about was real plain stuff that I wasn’t sure was going to be interesting to other people. But I guess it was…I’ve never had any discipline whatsoever. I just wait on a song like I was waiting for lightning to strike. And eventually-usually sometime around 3 in the morning-I’ll have a good idea. By the time the sun comes up, hopefully, I’ll have a decent song.

I’m fascinated by America…it’s so odd.

I guess what I always found funny was the human condition. There is a certain comedy and pathos to trouble and accidents. Like, when a driver has parked his car crookedly and then wonders why he has the bad luck of being hit.

I edit as I go. Especially when I go to commit it to paper. I prefer a typewriter even to a computer. I don’t like it. There’s no noise on the computer. I like a typewriter because I am such a slow typist. I edit as I am committing it to paper. I like to see the words before me and I go, “Yeah, that’s it.” They appear before me and they fit. I don’t usually take large parts out. If I get stuck early in a song, I take it as a sign that I might be writing the chorus and don’t know it. Sometimes,you gotta step back a little bit and take a look at what you’re doing.

Some of the songs come so fully, it’s like they are pre-packaged. There have been a couple that came in the middle of the night. And I thought, jeez, I’ll never forget that. And went back to sleep, and it was gone. You’ll hear something years later that another songwriter that you respect writes, and you go, jeez, I think that was the remnants of that song that got sent to me.

The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go out and do the best you can.

Now Jesus, he don’t like killing, no matter what the reason is for, and your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore.

John Prine died from complications related to Covid-19

John Prine and Bonnie Raitt

John and Fiona