29 April, 2009

"Knock It Off!"

"Ri-iiigh-ut FACE!" Shhhhush, thump!
Close Order Drill for Ski Troops at Camp Hale, Colorado,

As huge search lights illuminated the clouds
above the battle front, the elite men of the U.S. Army's Tenth Mountain Division climbed the escarpment known as Riva Ridge. An eerie glow prevailed, and the weather was anything but ideal. Ice and snow were present, and the German forces manning the Gothic Line defenses in north Italy were not willing to relinquish any strongpoint to the Americans. Could the
vaunted, but green, Mountaineers do what was evidently impossible, and take these high promontories away from hardened German mountain fighters (including Gebirgsjaeger Mountain Troops of the Wehrmacht)? The Mount Belvedere massif, adjacent to Riva Ridge, had repelled the best that the Allies had to offer in four previous attacks.

Battle for Riva Ridge, Tenth Mountain Division and Brazilian Expeditionary Force,
WW II. Source: U.S. Army

My father, Pfc. Kenneth K. Klahn, held a German officer at gunpoint. He was in an artillery observation post below the huge face of Riva Ridge. Our troops had been taking casualties, and prisoners were filtering in. Far from being the second rate troops that some Americans were up against at the end of the war, these Germans were defending the heights with tenacity. The enemy
Offiziere was secretly trying to crush a telephone wire with the heel of his boot. Klahn gave him the toughest "knock it off" look he could, and threatened him with his carbine to make the point. Perhaps he even sprinkled that with some well-chosen deutsch, since his parents spoke German at home.

As history records, and to the astonishment of the Germans, the Tenth's climbers completed the night climb, under winter conditions, and forced their way onto the summit ridge. Repelling repeated, fierce counter-attacks, they held Riva Ridge. The remarkable offensive energy that the Tenth displayed over the course of driving the enemy from the series of heights beginning at Riva Ridge, and proceeding from summit to summit along the Apennines range, caused the Germans to throw reinforcements into the breach. The Tenth took that in stride, and as a result their casualty rate was exceedingly high. In cemeteries from Florence, Italy, to Colorado, Washington State and other mountain communities throughout America, lie young men for whom sacrifice is much more than an abstract buzz word.

Now you know the story behind my climber drawing. Also see the post below about Riva Ridge and another drawing that I did of a tiny hut at Riva Ridge, Italy.

Riva Ridge
Veterans - Pictures of your author's trip to Italy
The National Association of the
10th Mountain Division

28 April, 2009

Tenth Mountain Memorial

Tenth Mountaineer on Riva Ridge
20" x 12"
Casey Klahn

A more unusual outfit than my father's U.S. Army division would be hard to find. Just think about the veterans of the Tenth Mountain Division who pulled off the assault of Riva Ridge in Italy in the winter of 1945. The physical and technical requirements of mountain warfare are more than a little beyond the norm. A special man is required.

There never was an army unit like the famous Tenth Mountain Division of the Second World War. They were experienced outdoorsmen, mountain climbers and world-class skiers who trained themselves from scratch to be mountain troopers. As a consequence, they trained longer and harder than any other division in the war.

My father, Pfc. Kenneth K. Klahn, told me that the army ordered the 10th soldiers to remove their unit insignia when they got to Italy. The shoulder patch insignia was a red, white and blue powder keg with crossed bayonets organized to represent the Roman numeral ten. Added above that was a rocker with the word "MOUNTAIN" over the patch. Ironically, the Germans greeted the Hollywood and press-famous ski troops with flyers welcoming them to the Italian Theater of war. "See Naples and Die!" So much for secrecy - the Nazis were waiting, deeply entrenched behind the Gothic Line, in the North Apennines mountain range. Would the Tenth live up to their press?

Tomorrow: "Knock It Off!"

23 April, 2009

Must Read Blogs

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Blogs That Are Red Hot

When The Colorist grows up, it wants to be just like Sippican Cottage.

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Favorite posts there:

How To Live Like a Human Being
My Father Asks for Nothing

Art blogs rely on images for their content, but when truly good writing comes along, it stands out. Reading effortless, great prose makes me want to do my best writing for my posts, too. What are your favorite well-written blogs?

20 April, 2009

In The Zone

After a 2-3 week hiatus, I hope I'm getting back "In The Zone." I had produced some great work, and then a few blocks stumbled me up - mostly schedule burps. Look for some postings of what's fresh off my easel, soon.

I often see great works being created by other art bloggers. When I am impressed by their current work, then it is obvious to me that they are "In The Zone" of creating their best work. I want to recognize this zonesmanship with a link, and I have invented a brevet to go with it. If you get one from me, don't think me disappointed with your past work - just very impressed with your current art!

The brevet looks like this:

It is not a meme, where you recite five things, and then tag another blogger. It is just me saying, "way to go," and go look at this artist's great new work. If you receive this brevet, then feel free to post it at your blog, or just smile and chuckle. You're not required to link me back, either.

Who do I feel is in the zone right now? Definitely Harry Bell, of the UK, who blogs at Boogie Street. His series on the Tram in Prague is here, here and here.

The compositions he creates in his series on public transportation in Prague (and another "Night Station," as well) are really delightful. They feature the bold red
side of a bus, figures all aboard, and set among the enchanting scenery of the old city of Prague. The buildings and streets are rendered mostly as abstract shapes, but also immediately recognizable. Simple, yet complex at the same time. His Vaporetto Series last year was a similar treatment of waterborne taxis in Venice.

Also, I won't award "Zone" brevets in retrospect, except just this once. I am very impressed with Loriann Signori's series from her trip to New Mexico, in the Southwest, recently ended. I want to credit her with an "In The Zone" brevet for being "on" while painting not just out-of-doors", but out-of-state, too! This is hard to accomplish, yet her capture of the colorfully lit SW desert is supurb.

17 April, 2009

Goodbye, Snow!

Primitive Road Thaw
10.5" x 15"
Casey Klahn

Hello, Spring!

This year I am doing landscapes. That's one big change for me. Also, for the very observant, my other big change is the landscape format versus the "portrait" format. Longer, instead of taller, rectangles.

Time marches on, you know.

Some news:

After several years (ten?) of doing art fairs at the pace of about four to seven a summer, I have cut back to only one for this summer. I knew my health issues and operations over the past three years were slowing me down, and that I wouldn't be making enough art to be at several shows. And, the physical requirements of
doing art fairs are significant, too.

This year, I am accepted into what is, for me, the ultimate great art fair, the Sausalito Art Festival. I have visited the fair, but until now haven't gotten "in." Peer juried, this event features artists from all over the country, and from foreign countries such as Japan, Israel, Hungary, the UK, Turkey and France. It takes place about Labor Day weekend, and Sausalito is in the San Fransisco bay area.

I did participate in another art fair in Marin County, which also provided me an introduction to the Barefoot Art Gallery in Mill Valley, where I had one of my solo shows. I love the area, and am looking forward to the event at sunny, bay side Sausalito. Where did my tuxedo go, and does it still fit me?

Is there anyone in the Marin area that wants to heft my gear and/or sell art with me in the booth? Probably my wife Lorie will be with me, but the extra help is always good to have.

Back to work for me...

A Messy Studio is a Happy Studio
Casey Klahn

13 April, 2009

Accepting Bids - Limited Opportunity

Storm Over the River
5"" x 7"
Casey Klahn
Bidding begins at $100 - unframed

This is an unusual opportunity for you to grab one of my small originals. I almost never restrict my image sizes to standard frame openings, but this one turned out to be 5" x 7". As a result, I have decided to place it up for bid as an unframed, brand new artwork fresh off of the easel. Woo hoo!

Accepting emails or comments as bids, starting at $100, plus postage and tax.

10 April, 2009

Good Friday - Behold The Man

Ecce Homo, @ 1609
128 x 103 cm

Jesus. Not only crucified, but humiliated for our sakes.


Art and the Bible

07 April, 2009

Blogging Love

Do you feel that art blogging should be even more popular or widespread than it is now? I do, and I predict that it will become more popular this year than ever before.

I have been slacking here at The Colorist just a bit, lately. On the plus side, some of that inattention has been due to extra time in the studio. A very happy thing!

Another happy thing was receiving the "I love Your Art Blog Award" from Kathi Peters at Equine Artists. Thanks for the love! I wish I could love-up an award for every artist blogger who reads here, too. The rules of this meme are that a recipient should name seven loves, and pick seven more art blogs to receive this award.

My past award recipients are listed at this post. I want to shake the love around and pick others this time.

Seven peeps I love:
  1. Wife
  2. Son
  3. Daughter
  4. Artists
  5. Art Patrons
  6. Army Veterans
  7. Our Brave Servicemen
My seven blogs to love:
  1. Brian McGurgan - Brian McGurgan's Drawings, A Journal
  2. Robert Chunn - Alla Prima
  3. Jala Pfaff - Art Every Day
  4. Charley Parker - Lines and Colors
  5. Garth Edwards - The Artist of Paradox
  6. Loriann Signori - Loriann Signori's Painting-A-Day
  7. Gesa Helms - Paint and Pastel

Ever feel like your circle of artist blogs is too narrow? One fun way to go out visiting is to take an award like this and Google it to see who's been posting about it. An example.

Another slick place for discovering art blogs is the new Art Blog Directory. Spin the cube!

Eden Compton has tagged me here, as well. Thanks, Eden! Adam Cope has awarded me here, and I hope to post my responses next. Thanks, Adam!
Abstract Expressionism, Art Criticism, Artists, Colorist Art, Drawing, History, Impressionism, Modern Art, Painting, Pastel, Post Impressionism