Chihuly – small sand to glorious glass

On a recent family vacation, my family had the opportunity to view the Chihuly exhibit at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. I cannot recommend this exhibit strongly enough. Seriously, if you are anywhere in the Tampa/St. Pete area, you must find time to get by and see this exhibit.

chihuly ceiling 1

Dale Chihuly is an artist who currently lives and creates in Seattle. I first encountered his work when we were living in Virginia and he had a visiting exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I was spellbound by the way he utilized both glass, color, and shape to create sculptures that are full of grace and movement.

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This particular exhibit is unique in that Chihuly himself has been instrumental in determining the arrangement of the exhibition, down to the very order in which his pieces are displayed, in which rooms, and how the rooms are designed. The experience was truly breathtaking.

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Most of the rooms were kept dark, the walls painted dark colors. And then, glowing with an ethereal warmth, the glass pieces were displayed. I cannot remember the last time I turned a corner in an art museum with an audible gasp at the immense beauty of the art that was just around the corner. As we entered each room, there was yet another stunning work of glass, alive with color and form to delight our eyes.

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Some of Chihuly’s works were new to me. I had not seen his baskets or his bowls previously. Then there were the vases, some that even had the flowers with them too. I was fascinated by his ability to take glass and create things that looked as if they were created out of an entirely different media, as if they really were basket, bowls, flowers.

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“I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in a forest, they might think it belonged there.” – Dale Chihuly

I had encountered several of his hanging sculptures previously, but they still take my breath away. They are at the same time both delicate and bold. The individual tendrils of glass seem so fragile, yet the structure itself dominates the space.

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If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the works that he often displays in gardens, here displayed in a large room all to its own.  I couldn’t stop taking pictures. It seemed as if there was a new aspect with each vantage point. As I discussed the piece with my family, each of us found something different that captured our attention.

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“I’m amazed at what people seem to find in my work, and I don’t like to limit what they see with a title. For me, titles are very difficult, and I don’t usually even think in terms of a theme when I’m creating a sculpture. Once it’s finished, I’ll come up with a title, but one person might see flowers, another something from the sea or something from a dream.” – Dale Chihuly

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As incredible as these pictures are, they don’t even begin to display the incredible beauty of seeing these works in person. Sometimes, you just need to be reminded that there is beauty beyond anything you can imagine. While human beings are indeed capable of great evil, we are also able to create stunning beauty. Delight your eyes with such beauty. Go visit the Morean Art Center and spend a little time with Chihuly. You won’t regret it.

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All photos posted with permission of the Morean Art Center. All works photographed are from Dale Chihuly.

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What’s Your Creation Motivation?

Creation motivation? What’s that? There isn’t just one motivation for why artists create, why painters paint and why sculptors sculpt. Many times I’m sure you create something yourself with a specific purpose in mind, for instance, a special birthday cake. Take my friend Lisa—she expresses herself so beautifully with cake and icing! Just look at this wild castle Lisa made for her energetic and delightful granddaughter, Emma!

motivation 1

What a yummy creation! Lisa is always challenging herself to do something new and unique. Her chicken cake with coconut straw just makes me happy! Though it could be that it reminds of the 4 chickens we have right now: 2 reds, 1 black and 1 very, very, very large white chicken (More on our chunky chicken in a later post.)

creation 2

What is Lisa’s motivation? I don’t think it’s just to please her granddaughter or friends. I think she’s probably like me. 

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She’s motivated, but by what? 

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Now I realize that many of us have to make do with a supermarket birthday cake, but can you imagine someone plopping down one of Lisa’s creations for your birthday? Gosh, you’d have to feel loved and very special.

Some artists create just because they love the act of doing something new, exciting, challenging or controversial. Just the act of expressing themselves in sculpture, watercolor, oils, quilting, crafts or pastels is important for some. For others, I think the achievement of a finished and final piece of work produced is important. Of course some of those things are often my motivation.

But I truly believe that Lisa’s motivation is that she loves to create and creates for those she loves. It’s an act of love, a pleasure. It’s special; her artistic self is expressed in a way that’s unique. But the true force of creation is driven by love.

For me, I create not so much because I love creating, but I love the happiness it brings to others. Creating is my way of showing love. Our love of creating things for those we love is but a small reflection of how God created the beauty of the earth for all of us to enjoy…just because He loves us. That is my true motivation.

It takes time and effort to do what Lisa does, but think of the joy the giver and receiver get in this lovely transaction! Memories can be made, by what you make!

Here is the 3rd stage in a labor of love that I am producing for someone special.

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You’ll have to wait for another blog to see how it turns out and learning about the love that has caused me to create it. But in the meantime, don’t just sit there, create!

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I’d love to know your creation motivation, so please share!

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Who Are the Florida Highwaymen?

The Highwaymen may be complete unknowns to you. I know they were to me. My youngest daughter brought home a paining she made in school with a little note attached that said “To further their study of Florida, the first graders will learn about a group of Floridian artists, known as the Highwaymen.” I had never heard of the Highwaymen before and so I asked my daughter, who casually replied “they were group of black artists who painted pictures of Florida and sold them along the highways.”

highwaymen 1

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I discovered that our local history museum was having a “meet and greet” with some of the Highwaymen. Needless to say, I was intrigued. So I did a little homework of my own to discover who the Highwaymen are. 

highwaymen 2

1955 in the United States was not a great time to be a black person. Life was even harder if you were south of the Mason Dixon line. In Florida, the governor at the time was a member of the Klu Klux Kan, and so was the chief of police.  Many blacks living in Florida at the time worked in the orange groves – difficult work with low wages. But a brilliantly talented group of 26 men and one woman began painting. They painted with oil on cheap Upson board (similar to modern day drywall). They painted in their garages on the weekends. And because they were black, they couldn’t sell their paintings in any gallery, so instead they would sell them from the trunks of their cars as they drove along Florida’s highways – thus the term “Highwaymen.” Often they sold their works for as little as $25.

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Today, the artwork of the Highwaymen is honored and valued by art lovers worldwide. They were rediscovered by the art world in 1995 when a gallery owner, Jim Fitch, wrote an article for an art journal in which he described their work.  All 26 original Highwaymen were inducted into the Florida Artist’s Hall of Fame in 2004.

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It was a great delight to meet some of the original Highwaymen. My daughter was particularly excited to meet the one and only Highwaywoman, Mary Ann Carroll. All the artists were so gracious in sharing their stories and telling us about their artwork. They drew their inspiration from the Florida landscape all around them  – from cypress swamps to sandy beaches, from the brilliant colors of the jacaranda, poinciana and tabebuia trees to the soft colors of dawn and dusk. Their paintings are a feast for the eyes, their story is a feast for the soul.

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If you’re interested in learning more about the Florida Highwaymen, PBS has done an excellent documentary on them. You can also view their paintings online.

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And if you ever have the opportunity to meet a Highwayman, you won’t be disappointed, and you might just find yourself coming home with a print or two of their enchanting work. 

 

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All Creation Speaks

Speaks of what you may ask? Many of you know the answer. Creation speaks of the Creator of the universe, the one true God. 

In fact, those who do not know God often find themselves acknowledging that there must be someone higher than themselves. Someone who could have made the finite wonders of this world so astonishingly beautiful and infinitely varied. 

My latest painting, Bark and Bluebells (22 ½ x 29 framed) is an acknowledgement of how majestic a little slice of God’s creativity speaks in trees and flowers. I hope you enjoy the progress shots and how God reveals Himself through nature and His word.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19:1

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They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:3-4

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In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Psalm 95:4-5

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But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12:7-10

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Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the foundation of the earth? Isaiah 40:21

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He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:45

creation speaks

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

© Laura Gabel, “Bark and Bluebells”. 22.5x29, pastel. $2500. Creation speaks
© Laura Gabel, “Bark and Bluebells”. 22.5×29, pastel. $2500.

It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it I stretched out the heavens with My hands And I ordained all their host.  Isaiah 45:12

The earth still declares His glory; all nature is meant to point to God. His creation is His fingerprint that speaks to the world that He exists. Perhaps today is the day you would like to know God in a more intimate way, rather than just seeing His creation. If so, then please email or call me.

You can bring this painting home today and add your voice of praise to that of the creation as it sings! It is available for purchase here.

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5 Ways to Bring a Little Art to Your Summer

Summer is upon us. While June 21st marks the official start of summer, many of us mark the unofficial start with Memorial Day weekend or the end of school. For those of us in coastal states, summer is often marked with trips to the beach. If we’re in most of the US, summer means hotter weather, for some of us, too hot to even make that trip to the beach. And if we have kids, summer marks the time when mornings start a bit later, time moves a bit slower, and we ward off sibling squabbles and cries of “I’m bored.”

But what about bringing a little art to your summer? If it’s too hot to play outside, why not play inside? Here are five quick tips to put a little art in your summer – enjoy!

  1. Visit your local art museum.

Don’t just limit yourself to the biggest game in town. Most cities have smaller (and often more affordable) museums. Often during the summer, art museums will offer special programming or the occasional free day. It’s no secret that my family frequents art museums, and some of my favorite have been the smaller venues. These museums have the ability to focus on a limited number of exhibits and often do them quite well and display pieces that wouldn’t be shown in a larger museum.

summer art museum

  1. Take a stroll though a local art gallery.

Many of the cities in which we’ve lived have an “arts district”. Does your town? Is there a little neighborhood where many different artists have galleries? Or perhaps there is a larger gallery that displays works from several artists? Why not spend an afternoon or evening strolling along and letting your senses be stimulated with locally created art? In addition to seeing incredible art, you may have the opportunity to meet the artists. Check your local events calendar, regular “art strolls” are becoming very popular – galleries staying open later and vendors providing food, beverages, and even live music. Simple ask Siri or Google and see what adventure awaits!

art-less children, summer

  1. Enroll in an art class.

Summer art doesn’t have to be limited to what you find in museums and galleries. From paint-your-own studios to ceramic studios to library classes to art schools, there is an endless supply of art classes. Find a medium you enjoy or stretch yourself to try something brand new. Just because school is out doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a class just for fun! If you have kids, don’t just sign them up for art camp, why don’t you sign up for family painting night? Make some art together!

stamping art, summer

  1. Pick up a book about art or your favorite artist.

Maybe taking an art class feels a bit intimidating, while I’d still encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone….why not pick up a great book? You could read an art book, an artist’s biography or autobiography, or something that might grow your appreciation for art. Head out to your local library, look up your favorite artist, or ask the helpful librarian where the art books are and find one, two or more to take home and enjoy. Here’s a great list to get you started.

  1. Make some art of your own.

Sometimes, you just want to stay home, I get it. So why not use that time to create a masterpiece of your own? Summer is a time to relax and destress – so why not pull out a coloring book and have a little fun? Or ask your kids to get out all their art supplies, pull on some old clothes and have an art party and see what you can create? Tap into your inner creativity that unfortunately can get buried in the everyday-ness of life. Make something beautiful!

grateful for kids, summer

So how about it? How will you put a little art in your summer? What ideas do you want to try? What else would you add to this list? Now get out there and do it! Then come back, post a picture or leave a comment about your art adventure!

 

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3 Ways I want to lure you in to creativity

Today I want to lure you in to taking some risks!

A lure is something that tempts or attracts with the promise of pleasure or reward. Yes it can be pleasurable to take risks, especially when you are creating. We are all artists in one way or another and we need to cultivate and expose ourselves to trying new things.

This is exactly what I did when I created my latest mixed media painting. I call “Fishing Around” because I really didn’t know what I was doing, or how it was going to turn out. 

While you may not be able to see it “Fishing Around” is a multi-dimensional piece. It employs acrylic on the bottom as the sea layer (leftover paint that I couldn’t bear to waste from another painting, see Sarasota Waterfall).

After staring at the swirling canvas, I thought it would be fun to paint an acrylic goldfish on it.

© Laura Gabel, “Fishing Around”. 12x12, mixed media. $250., lure blog

The ideas started to evolve. Hmm, this was an experiment so I wanted to have a bit of fun. How about a dragonfly on top of the water.

© Laura Gabel, “Fishing Around”. 12x12, mixed media. $250. lure blog

Well, what could I use to separate the two creatures, the fish looking up, the dragonfly landing? I settled on a laminate layer between them. Now all kinds of things can happen when you start pouring this and that on top of this and that. But to my surprise it seemed to be working…and everyone started commenting on the crazy idea. It’s very hard to see but actually there are 3 layers of epoxy between the two creatures, which gives it a very wild depth producing look!

Then I decided to paint the dragonfly in oil on top of acrylic, on top of epoxy. Well, the whole thing could go wrong, it might sink in to the epoxy, might never dry, might smear, might not let me apply it…whew. It worked! So here is, ta da, my experimental painting!

© Laura Gabel, “Fishing Around”. 12x12, mixed media. $250. lure blog
© Laura Gabel, “Fishing Around”. 12×12, mixed media. $250.

So I want to lure you into my approach in attracting creativity simply!

1. Cultivate a creative mindset:

  • Don’t struggle – the harder you try, the dryer and flatter your ideas will get. 
  • Relax to some music.
  • Don’t discard the absurd, it leads you to make connections that can make sense.
  • Be curious. 
  • Research, but not too much! Too much reading on the internet is overwhelming and time wasting.
  • Ask yourself plenty of questions like, “what would happen if I…?”

2. Overcome your fears of:

  • Experimenting
  • Making a mess
  • Failing
  • Ask yourself: Is it ok for you to ruin something as you experiment, or do you consider what you are doing to be too “precious”?

Last but not least: Have fun! Not everything turns out right, but it can lead to bigger and better things. 

God gives us all things richly to enjoy! Tell those who are rich in this age not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, let them place their confidence in God, who lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Tim 6:17 ISV

If you enjoyed this, perhaps you would enjoy bring this painting into your home as well! It is available for purchase in our store.

 

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Mother’s Day or Money Day?

I know this sounds un-American, but I have a close friend, who says that Mother’s Day is nothing but baloney–a made up day to sell greeting cards and goodies. Now, don’t get all worked up, even the founder of American Mother’s Day Anna Jarvis ended up criticizing the celebration for becoming too commercialized.

According to Wikipedia, Ann Jarvis [mom] “was very active within the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church community. It was during one of her Sunday school lessons in 1876 that her daughter, Anna Jarvis [daughter], allegedly found her inspiration for Mother’s Day, as Ann closed her lesson with a prayer, stating: “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, Anna Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, today the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in Grafton, West Virginia, marking the first official observance of Mother’s Day

Jarvis frequently referred to her mom’s memory during her efforts to maintain the sentimental heart of the day while also maintaining her own role as the founder of the holiday. 

In addition to her efforts to maintain her position and recognition as the holiday’s founder, Jarvis struggled against forces of commercialization that overwhelmed her original message. Among some of these forces were the confection, floral and greeting card industry. Anna said, “A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.” 

Oh dear! This echo’s my friends thoughts that honoring a mom once a year, while ignoring her most of the time is really a heart issue.

Now I know that my mom strived to be a much better mother to me than her mother was to her. I am grateful for the love, care, and encouragement she gave us. But I know that many sons and daughters may find it very, very hard to love and honor their moms. Whether it’s favoritism, abandonment, cruelty or whatever, the pain of not having a mother that fulfills our perfect image of motherhood holds us back.

Many artists have portrayed their mothers, some in surprisingly beautiful ways. For instance, very few people would recognize this painting as Picasso’s, often known as the pioneer of cubism.

We get a real treat when looking at Albrecht Durer’s oil painting of his mother and later some of his thoughts about her.

After she in turn died in 1514, her son wrote “This my pious Mother … often had the plague and many other severe and strange illnesses, and she suffered great poverty, scorn, contempt, mocking words, terrors, and great adversities. Yet she bore no malice. Also she died hard … I felt so grieved for her that I cannot express it.” I think this famous sketch of her at age 63 conveys Durer’s sadness about her hard life. 

If you were to paint your mother, what would she look like to you today, right now? Would that painting show the hardness of your heart, your anger, your unforgiveness, your hurt?

As lovers of Christ, we are commanded to love one another. This is hard, but it is a command. That command doesn’t include nursing a grudge, replaying your woundedness or treasuring your martyred state. To mature in our faith in Christ is simple. We say no to ourselves and yes to God. It is simple, but no, it is not easy. A first step toward that may be to ask God to cleanse and change your heart.

Our last portrait is the famous and iconic painting of Whistler’s mother. Perhaps you can’t tell from looking at the painting of her what Whistler thought, or perhaps you can! In any of the above 3 moms, I myself love Picasso’s portrait of his mother. 

While God is often referred to as Father, the Scriptures do in fact use maternal imagery to show us that God loves us, provides for us and cares for us like a mother with her newborn. Isaiah tells of God as the One who feeds, comforts, and cares for His children; and while even some human mothers may forget their children, God never will. He is better than even the best mother. Jesus himself draws upon maternal imagery in Deuteronomy when he laments over Jerusalem His longing to gather His people as a mother hen gathers her chicks.

God wants us to know that His heart is for us. What about your heart?Perhaps you need to examine it this Mother’s Day.

 

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Suffering when there Isn’t a Happy Ending

I was deeply moved by my friend Pam Jarvis’ exploration of suffering as she pondered Christ’s death. My pastor has often said that we should carry the crucified Christ and His resurrection with us daily, not just once a year. I have put Pam’s article together with a series of paintings that seem to me to exemplify some of her thoughts. I look forward to your comments.

A Good Friday Reflection on Grief and Suffering

We had a huge disappointment this week in our family.  I cried bitter tears because I prayed and others prayed and we all thought it was going to turn our well.  Faithful effort and believing in God’s provision did not result in a real need being answered in a positive way.  It wasn’t as serious as someone dying or getting a terminal diagnosis, or a horrible car accident, a breakup of a marriage, or losing a child.  Looking at the horrible things people around the world are suffering, it doesn’t compare.  But it hurt.

JACQUES-LOUIS DAVID – La Muerte de Marat (Museos Reales de Bellas Artes de Bélgica, 1793. Óleo sobre lienzo, 165 x 128 cm

Where is Jesus when suffering happens?

I was pondering our response, as Christians, to suffering. In the American evangelical church, we are sorely lacking.  We avoid suffering, run from others who are feeling pain or loss, or try to say easy platitudes like “it will get better,” “God is sovereign”, “God works together all things for our good”.  These are all true, of course, but when we have a grave disappointment or are with people who are grieving or lost something important to them, what is our response? Let’s ponder this:

The kitchen maid, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, 1738 – c.1740, oil, canvas, 37.5 x 46.2 cm

I started looking at the account of Jesus’s Crucifixion and I noticed different responses to His suffering and death.  Jesus’s mother Mary, and her sister Mary, and Mary Magdalene were near the cross.  John (the Scriptures don’t name this disciple), was present. Most scholars agree he was the best friend of Jesus,“the one he loved”. Jesus noticed them,  as he said, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

The other disciples all ran away. (Matt. 26:56)

His closest inner circle fled in fear of being arrested.

Most of us can identify with the difficulty of being with someone we love who is in pain; words don’t really help, sometimes they even make it worse, and we don’t know the right thing to say to fix it or make it better.  Some of us stuff or numb the pain, don’t acknowledge the hurt, or we just hide or run away, like the disciples. I have done all of these things.

Where does our comfort come from in times of loss and grief?  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be Mary, seeing your son willingly go through unimaginable torture.

The Scream, Edvard Munch (Norwegian, Løten 1863–1944 Ekely), 1895, Lithograph, 20 1/4 x 15 5/8 in. (51.4 x 39.7 cm)

Yet, she stayed.  The two other Marys stayed. John stayed.

The New Testament has many references to the word stay, remain or abide (not a word we usually use). In the Greek, the word abide has these meanings: “To continue to be present, to be held continually, to last or endure, to wait for.”

We are shown in the book of John that the ones who treasured Jesus were present, staying with Him, abiding and enduring the pain and suffering they were witnessing. Even though there was not a happy ending that day, they waited and even, in their sorrow, prepared his body for burial.

We do know, for those of us who believe, that there is a promised victorious day coming because of the cross and resurrection. He is now alive to “abide” with us, to be present when there is overwhelming sorrow.  We are promised in Lamentations 3

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.  Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Christina’s World, Andrew Wyeth, Tempera on panel, 32 1/4 x 47 3/4″ (81.9 x 121.3 cm)

We belong to Him. He is with us in our pain, if we seek His presence and abide and wait with Him. When people we know are suffering, we can be present with them, just like Jesus is with us. He was a “man of sorrows familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3).  This Good Friday His presence is with us in our disappointment.  We do have hope as we wait; Our Resurrected King will wipe away every tear from our eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:4

This song says it better than I can:

Blessing and Honor to the King of Kings!

Love,
Pam

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Magnificence and a moment at the Morse

I wrote recently of my family visit to the Morse Museum, and I’d like to return to that fascinating museum in today’s post. This week is Holy Week, a celebration of last week of the life of Christ, culminating in the glorious celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday. At first glance, the Morse Museum may appear to have very little to do with Holy Week, but keep reading, and I think you’ll be surprised.

Morse Museum, Tiffany chapel 1
Tiffany Chapel Reredos, c. 1893
 Laurelton Hall, Long Island, New York, 1902–57
 Exhibited: World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893
 Glass mosaic
 Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, New York City, 1892–1900
 90 x 72 in.

Tucked away in the exhibit halls of the Morse museum in a magnificent work called simply “The Chapel”. But there is nothing simple about this chapel. Originally crafted by Louis Comfort Tiffany for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the chapel re-opened at its current home in Winter Park in 1999.

Morse Museum, Tiffany chapel 2
View of the chapel interior designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Though originally displayed as a work of art, the chapel was so exquisite, that male patrons would remove their hats, and all who entered would sit in reverent silence, as if entering a functioning church. In fact, after the 1893 exhibition, the chapel would be moved to St. John the Divine in New York City, where it did actually function as a chapel.

Morse Museum, Tiffany chapel 3
Altar from the Tiffany chapel interior at the Morse Museum.

There is a deep connection between art and worship. Anthony Esolen in his book ten ways to destroy the imagination of your child states that “In both art and worship, the heart seeks out something beyond itself – a beauty or a power that is not its own.” (pg. 225) Tiffany’s chapel does exactly that – it shows us a beauty and a power that is so clearly not our own.

Morse Museum, Tiffany chapel 4
Baptistery and Field of Lilies leaded-glass window from the Tiffany chapel interior at the Morse Museum. Photo by Raymond Martinot.

Even as we entered the chapel at the Morse Museum, there was a little placard urging silence, and we coached our children to be respectful and quiet. The day we visited, there was a small crowd of other folks in the chapel as well – some were sitting quietly, admiring the art, some were taking photos and pointing out details in the mosaics, some appeared to be praying.

Morse Museum, Tiffany chapel 5
Lectern from the Tiffany chapel interior at the Morse Museum.

When we encounter great works of art, silence is often our best response. We are confronted with the transcendent, and words somehow seem inadequate.

Morse Museum, Tiffany Chapel 6
View of Tiffany chapel leaded-glass windows and electrolier. Left to right: The Story of the Cross, c. 1892; Adoration, c. 1900–1916; Christ Blessing the Evangelists, c. 1892. Photo by Jimmy Cohrssen.

For Christians, the events of Holy Week are the pinnacle of our faith. Good Friday services are often marked by silence and a contemplative sadness as we reflect on the death of Christ for our sins. Easter services in contrast resound with joy and delight as we celebrate His resurrection.

Morse Museum, Tiffany Chapel 7
The Story of the Cross, c. 1892
 Leaded glass
Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, New York City, 1892–1900
D. 104 1/2 in.

A trip to the Morse Museum and a time for reflection in the beauty of the chapel can be the perfect venue for me to reflect on these Holy Week events. And I am not alone in those thoughts. In fact, the Morse Museum is free on Easter weekend. A tradition begun in 1986, the museum offers a free open house on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you are in the area, I suggest you work in a visit to the Morse and a visit to your local church to celebrate this Holy Week. He is Risen!

 

All photos graciously provided by and used with permission of the Morse Museum.

 

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Dillydallying at the Dali – care to join me?

Let me tell you about my day with Dali! Last week, my good friend Pam, from Ft. Worth, Texas came to visit. It was her first trip here to our home and we aimed to make it a big visit—Texas and Florida style!

Dali museum 1

One of the places we visited was the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, only an hour from our home. What a spectacular destination. The building alone is stunning with ocean views and a waterfront setting. The building features a large glass entryway and skylight made of 1.5 inch thick glass.

Dali Museum 2

The remaining walls are composed of 18-inch thick concrete, designed to protect the collection from hurricanes.

Dali Museum 3

The museum is a dizzying array that includes one of the largest collections of Salvador Dali’s works. 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and objets d’art are on display.

Here are 2 shots I took of the “Enigma”, the glass entryway is 75 feet tall and encompasses this spiral staircase. It is just amazing.

Dali Museum 4

Dali Museum 5

I would have been delighted just to dillydally at the Dali for several days. Why? Simply…Dali was so inspiring!

Here are a couple of highlights that gave me a better view of art and in particular an artist’s life:

  • Dali’s work was so, so varied. Just going through the galleries of the 96 paintings, I was astonished at the range of style, subject matter and methods, from oil painting to sculpture. Here is a very tiny portrait of his wife and muse Gala, painted on olive wood. It’s just 3 7/16 inches x 2 5/8 inches, but so full of the intimacy of her character. The golden light infused throughout that tiny painting speaks of Dali’s love for her.Dali Museum 6
  • Dali’s work reflected different passages and phases of his life. While Dali is best known for his strange and unusual surrealistic paintings like The Persistence of Memory, completed in 1931.  In later years he explored his interest in Christ, the Catholic church and Spanish history. Here in The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, you can see in this gigantic work (161 1/2 inches x 122 1/8 inches, that’s approximately 13.46 feet by 10.18 feet!) a fusion of religious symbols and Dali’s love for his homeland, CataloniaDali Museum 7
  • Dali’s paintings showed master craftsmanship and a strong foundation in the history of art. As I viewed his portrait of his Aunt Tieta, I was struck by how impressionistic this portrayal is, fractured light that is so reminiscent of Renoir’s work. There are many paintings of Dali’s that allude to the great and early masters, but are refreshingly different. It is like he took an earlier idea and masterfully stamped his own imprimatur, that turns it all upside down and inside out and makes it only Dali’s.Dali Museum 8
  • Dali’s work was insightful and intriguing. He teases us with images that are so unusual! He stares out at us with unvarnished frankness, putting himself right in the allegory of The Ecumenical Council painting. Here he assumes the pose of another famous Spanish painter Velazquez.

Dali Museum 9

Dali Museum 10

Dali was personal. His painting reflected his life and gives us a glimpse of his inner thoughts and ideas. He makes us think. Here in the Portrait of My Dead Brother (69 x 69 in) he explores optical illusions, his dead mother (portrayed as a The Vulture), the dark cherries creating the image of his brother. There on the bottom left you can also see Dali’s homage to Millet’s L’Angelus.

Dali Museum 11

There is so much more to see, I encourage you to visit this fascinating museum. But you don’t have to be in St. Petersburg, Florida to visit the Dali Museum, you can also take a wonderful virtual tour.

It’s good to be inspired; it enables us to be an inspiration to others. Where have you found inspiration lately?

 

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