October 2013

All Hallow's Eve

It cannot be said that a man endures death easily or uneasily when he does not think about it at all. He who feels nothing, endures nothing. —Voltaire
When did I stop liking Halloween? Was it when parents horned in and started dressing up along with their kids? When the previous director of my town library celebrated Hallowmas by showing up in drag? [Honest. He did.] When all the local merchants turned shop windows over to middle schoolers to paint—in washable gouache—ghosts, witches and tombstones that go BOO? Continue Reading
The Conversion of Artists?

The website of the Catholic Artists Society offers an audio download of its sponsored lectures. In return, it asks only for the courtesy of a small voluntary donation. When I went to the site after Gregory Wolfe’s talk, there was an addendum to the donation button. If you preferred prayer to cash, you could make good by saying a decade of the Rosary for the conversion of artists. That codicil is now gone, thank goodness. The conversion of artists. Given the unlovely, preparatory landfill turned out in carloads by MFA programs, it might have seemed a humane objective. Continue Reading
Beauty, the Mantra

Beauty will save the world—a mantra among contemporary Christians issuing from the mouth of a character in nineteenth century Russian fiction. Susan Walp. Small Red Apples in a Berry Box (2011). Augustine’s Beauty has already saved the world. Our ransom has been paid. What matters now is whether the world cooperates with its redemption or flouts it. History will tell in the end. The arts of the beautiful are weightless in the balance. They can only scratch at the surface—if that—of moral beauty. Continue Reading
Roger de La Fresnaye, Neglected Knight

Roger de La Fresnaye. Artillery (1911). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Roger de la Fresnaye (1885-1925) painted strikingly personal, luminous, figure compositions between 1912 and his entry into the French army in 1914. They are among the grandest works of the generation of Picasso and Braque. During the 1940s, Duncan Phillips called him a “legendary knight.” Neglected might have been the more accurate adjective, but the noun was apt. La Fresnaye fought on two fronts: in the trenches of World War I, and in the aesthetic battles preceding the war. Continue Reading
Mike Walsh, MM. The Hudson Dragon (2013). Looking west across the Hudson at serpentine clouds that spread like a Chinese dragon over the highlands.

The feeling for things in themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures. —Vincent Van Gogh   This is the day that the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. —Psalm 118:24 Mike Walsh, MM. The Hudson Dragon (2013). Looking west across the Hudson at serpentine clouds that spread like a Chinese dragon over the highlands. I love the words of that psalm. They repeat in my heart like a mantra. This is the day —not just today, October 10; not yesterday or tomorrow but the entire span of our days. Continue Reading