Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sam Francis: SUMMER NO. 2

Since we have now entered the first full week of summer and Abstract Expressionist Sam Francis was born on this date (June 25) in 1923, today seems an appropriate time to present the above painting, Francis’s Summer No. 2.

Although originally a student of medicine and psychology, Francis turned to painting as a way of coping with an extended hospitalization when he was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis. Francis worked many of the formative years of his career in the 1950s as an exile in France and, at times, in Japan. In an article written for Art News in the 1960s, “American Sanctuary in Paris,” John Ashbery mentioned Sam Francis as one of the post-World War II American painters who unfashionably had found their styles while residing in France rather than remaining in the United States, particularly the emerging center of contemporary art, New York City. One wonders whether Ashbery, who spent a decade in France between the mid-1950s and mid-1960s while he worked as an art editor and developed his poetic style, might have identified with the experiences of the expatriate painters.

Ironically, Ashbery suggested, despite the obvious influence of French art and culture, a large number of American artists had sought some sort of isolation and independence in Europe in the decades immediately following the war with “a feeling of wanting to keep their American-ness whole, in the surroundings in which it is most likely to flourish and take root. The calm and the isolation of exile work together to accomplish this perilous experiment which, when it succeeds, can result in an exciting art that is independent of environment, as art must be in order to survive when the environment is removed.”

Elsewhere, Ashbery commended Sam Francis as an exemplary model, one of the few American artists who “have managed to flourish on both sides of the Atlantic.” Writing an article on R.B. Kitaj in the late 1970s, Ashbery offered: “American artists who choose to expatriate themselves face a precarious fate. Confronted with the xenophobic indifference of both their adopted country and their homeland, always suspicious of the émigrés, they run a greater risk of living out obscure careers than their compatriots who stay home.”

Mark Rothko may have served as an original and lasting influence on Sam Francis, especially as witnessed in some of his art containing color field painting. Nevertheless, while living in Europe—working in Paris or visiting Paul Cezanne’s hometown of Aix-en-Provence—Francis adopted an approach exhibited by those members of the French school of art named Tachisme, involving spontaneous action painting, and combined that with a perspective emphasizing the impact degrees of light and bright colors could exert on the moods of viewers.

As evidenced in Summer No. 2, Sam Francis’s artwork often contrasts bare white patches of canvas with areas containing splashes and dashes of rich colors, perhaps the result of an additional influence he felt from observing Japanese techniques. These characteristics help distinguish much of Francis’s work from that of other artists with whom he sometimes might be compared, such as Arshile Gorky, Willem De Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, and Mark Tobey.

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