Still Point Arts Quarterly is the print publication of the virtual Still Point Art Gallery based out of Brunswick, Maine. Their premise: “That art and artistry possess the capability to transform the world.” It is a laudable belief and Still Point’s editor, owner and director Christine Brooks Cote is working admirably to see this premise through, as the art, artist portfolios, feature articles, poetry and exhibition information chosen for this journal are of exceptional quality.
Included is a fascinating article from writer Peter Steinhert entitled “Learning to Draw.” Steinhert was an editor and columnist at Audubon for twelve years. His work has appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times, Mother Jones and Sierra, and he has published four books, including The Company of Wolves. In “Learning to Draw,” Steinhert breaks down and demystifies some of the remarkable goings-on within the brain with regard to drawing, that craft that is so inherently simple and yet, at the same time, maddeningly difficult. He explains that when it comes to drawing, we are born with the innate gift of freedom of form. “A child draws what he knows, not what he sees.”
He continues, “It’s not a case of observing and translating what one sees into line and texture within some scale of perspective. It’s the laying down of images largely from the inside.” It is as we grow, and our ability with language develops, that that innate ability is lost within the cracks of our own disapproval, the disappointment of others, and the inability to see objects without implying learned knowledge to them. Steinhert’s article is an enlightening physiological look at what it takes to draw “well” and whether there are predetermined limits in our abilities.
Meanwhile, Amanda Wolfe writes of how she constantly confronts her own self-doubt, as an artist, in the nonfiction piece “A Confession in Clay”:
I cannot force myself to believe that life is just getting up too early, coming home too tired, and, in the middle, feeling lost and hopeless in a dead-end job. Why is it a fact that I have no choice but to find something that pays the bills and settle for a life I don’t love? I can’t. I really, really can’t. […] Now two years later I have my own wheel and kiln, used only once since I got them. The real reason, I hate to admit, is this: I’m not any good. There is a difference between having true innate talent and having a hobby. Putting too much stock on that hobby has caused it to grow large and untouchable in my mind, so untouchable in fact, that I cannot bring myself to even walk in the door of my coveted studio.
Will Wolfe move forward, doing what she loves most, despite the nettling awareness of her fixed limitations, or is it enough to settle comfortably into the dearth of ordinary existence?
Also included is the photography of Stephen Tomasko. His portfolio entitled “Winter Was Hard” features the unabashed beauty of the tree blossoms that explode onto the Midwestern landscape in the spring. He writes: “This series is my eagerly anticipated reaction to, and reward for, surviving another cold and unrelentingly gray northern Ohio winter. Though the subject has been buried by decades of pop photography detritus, I have found that there is still undeniable energy to this subject matter.”
As a lifelong resident of Michigan, I can easily relate to Tomasko. These blooms never cease to amaze. But how does one go about capturing such ephemeral splendor? Tomasko does so by approaching the blossoms as a “photographic challenge.” They inquire:
How much pink is too pink? How much blur? They call upon distant memories of sweet scents. The prints are created using archival pigments on a luxurious matte cotton paper. Presented in this way, the prints bring to my mind the work of Hokusai, the brilliant woodblock artist from Japan’s Edo period. Working with the atmosphere of the rapidly changing springtime Ohio sky, I seek to create equally rich imagery filled with the essence of the air and its fragrance, and of the fresh spring light, the touch of petals and pollen, and of emotionally intimate experiences with the land. Winter was hard, but…
The cover of this issue of Still Points Arts Quarterly features the contemporary work of painter Jeanne Bessetee. There is poetry from Charlotte F. Otten and Michelle Ward-Kantor as well as fine work from artists Michal Barkai and Angela Young.
Still Point Arts Quarterly does exactly what I always hope a literary arts journal will do. It refrains from overwhelming the reader with its content. Instead, it leaves one wanting just a little bit more. Christine Brooks Cote has put together a collection of diverse works worthy of one’s time and attention.