Brian Curtis Stonehenge Series I&II
UM Gallery Wynwood. Miami Florida July – Sept. 2013
Miami Art Reviews.
Brian Curtis is the head of under graduate studies in Painting and drawing at University of Miami, Coral Gables. The Stonehenge Series is a departure from his life and figure paintings.
The ancient (6500yrs) megalithic stone circle of England set against a tropical sunset may seem like a remarketing tool of artistic juxtaposition but a few days after meeting the artist ,looking west from Miami Beach’s Green Diamond towards Miami’s downtown skyline. “how much alike the set sun on these new Miami megalithic towers are to Brain’s recent series”. The use of the ancient symbol “Stonehenge” has proved to be very universal this side of the Atlantic. Miami has its own mini circle, dating from a similar time in man’s history, the symbol has always been associated with the psyche,spirit and meeting place.
Brian Curtis’s Stonehenges are keys to personal spaces,each sky appealing to each destiny, the brush work delivers only as much as is required with light’s fluidity and life’s color against stone cold realism. The paintings are accompanied with mythical tales, ancient stories and ancestral traditions of ritual. It would be easy to imagine any of these paintings being a subliminal morning flash or returning welcome in many people’s homes.
Brian has succeeded in fusing two specific joys into one language, he is after all a professor of Fine Art and his use of universal symbols to evoke emotion and mind is in complete tradition of the visual language of symbols that defines Fine Art from art in general.
The poem takes center stage of the mural design, encased in the central structure it reads.
Here once by April breezes blown
You came, O gallant De Leon,
Sailed up this friendly ocean stream
To find the wells of ancient dream
The fountain by the poets sung
Where life and love are ever young.
You found it not, O prince, and yet
The wells that made the heart forget
Are waiting here year ever here
With touch of some immortal sphere,
For here below these skies of gold
We have forgotten to grow old
Here in this land where all the hours
Dance by us treading upon the flowers.
Edwin Markham in 1925
This simple rhyming seven versed, to Juan Ponce De Leon’s arrival on the North American continent and the poets satirical epigram to historical myths twists to include us all blessed with final days here under one glorious golden sky after another. Markham had written and recited the epigram for the Lincoln Memorial ceremony in 1922. His recital of his “Lincoln, Man of the People” had an immediate recognition which prompted Gov.James Middleton Cox. to request Markham’s pen for a homage to the history of Miami, Florida and “these import moments in our distant histories.” (James Middleton Cox biography)
Edwin Markham was born in 1842, died 1940, educator, poet and American Institute of Arts and Letters member. 1922 Lincoln Memorial dedication “Lincoln, the Man of the People.” Nine schools named in his honor, A WW2 Liberty ship and Wagner College Horrmann Library archived collection of his personal library and letters.
Markham was a politically and socially conscious writer at odds with the modernists Pound and Elliot and their free form directions in literature. He his exampled as an American of Letters, whose work exemplifies the National tradition in Literature. His interested in working class struggles, ethnic troubles and equal opportunities in education made him a popular choice for composing important civic and cultural epigrams.
Other important works… The Man with the Hoe 1899, Lincoln and other Poems 1901, The Shoes of Happiness 1913,Children in Bondage 1914, California the Wonderful 1914, Gates of Paradise 1920, 80 poems at 80, 1932 and The Ballard of the Gallow’s Bird. published ph 1960.
The M.D.C., Miami Freedom Tower’s New World 1513 mural at the M.D.C. has an epigram by Edwin Markham that dedicates to the discovery of the first known Native American settlement discovered by the Spanish new world explorer Juan Ponce De Leon who landed his boats only yards away on the shores of Biscayne Bay. The Markham poem takes center position of the 44 Ft. Long mural and in true epigram satire twists the fountain of youth fable to include our collective search and fragility, making the verse equal to all contemporary tastes some 90 years later. Perhaps Markham’s preference for the structured inclusion of cultural content and witt is after all a more constant and enduring literary style than the more subjective modernism that surrounded his later days. His Lincoln writings have been re-read and recited as we celebrate the Man’s anniversaries again. Since the Memorial’s dedication in 1922 few writers have been able to equally express our National sentiment and admiration for the iconic President Lincoln and so the poets words continue to serve.