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Monthly Archives: December 2018

Constance Tippet [late 20th century]

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

TIPPET, Constance [late 20th century; British]

“The Wharf” (top)


etching / 6.7 inches by 8.2 inches / A/P


Landscape, Rolling Hills (bottom)


etching / 7.8 inches by 8.9 inches / A/P

Ten years separate these two etchings by British artist Constance Tippet. Each offers a fragmentary landscape rendered in voluptuous undulating surfaces in a rich warm black, but the earlier print is a gently textured composition in the spirit of our own Grant Wood, while the second depends to a much greater extent upon bold line work and higher contrast.

Michael Stokoe [born 1933]

michael Stokoe.jpg

[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

STOKOE, Michael Arthur [born 1933]

“Summer Vines”


etching / 17.3 inches by 12.8 inches (image)

Michael Stokoe’s recent work, represented by this nearly monochromatic print, is almost unrecognizable compared with his early output as a young artist fresh from art school. The crisp minimalism of flat primary geometries and repetitive patterns at mid-century have yielded by the late 1980s to a gentler representation of landscape and the human presence.

Unusually, this piece came from neither a gallery nor the artist himself: It was part of an exhibit at a California winery, linking the visual arts with those of the vintner. We hope the vintage that year has remained as fresh and subtle as the art.

The weighing of the heart

“May your life be over before it is finished.”

No, that’s not an old Irish aphorism. Neither did it come with the check at a Chinese buffet. I actually coined it myself, though I doubt seriously that it will have much traction in popular culture or conventional wisdom. And though it may sound a bit grim — maybe even doubly so — I had intended it in an upbeat hopeful way, but wonder now if it ought to be reversed.

Something that is over (as in “over and done with”; “water under the bridge”) is irretrievably lost, behind you, beyond reclamation. Toast. Whereas, to finish something is to bring it to fruition, to completion; dot every “I”, cross every “T”. So what I had meant to say was simply this: It is my earnest and genuine hope that, when the time comes, as it will for us all to push back from the table, it will be with the satisfaction of a job well done, a work complete, a life well lived. There is more that I might wish to do, you say to yourself, but in the cosmic scheme of things, what I have accomplished ranks high enough to matter. When Anubis weighs my heart against the Feather of Truth, of Ma’at, Ammit will have to wait to claim another.

Now, since it is unlikely that the end of our lives and the completion of our most cherished goals are likely to coïncide, which of these would I rather accept? 1) Unfinished work, or 2) the dilemma of nothing left to do?

Option #1 still looks good where I sit.