Sunday, June 3, 2012

I don’t really KNOW anything about Art or Art History. Never studied it in college; don’t have a flair for painting or sketching or drawing or sculpting. When I TRY to draw or sketch, everything looks like stick figures, which is why I also gravitate to simple and humorous illustrations like those I borrowed from our Advent promotion two years ago! [left] She's called "Penny" and she looks real to me!

But trips  to the Art Institute of Chicago have become one of my true joys in life. I wander and stare and read the signs that explain to plain folk like me what the art really means.

Actually, what I DO know about paintings I learned from a board game my mother gave us when we were kids. That’s right, a BOARD GAME (do kids these days even know what those are?). A board game about ART works! How BORRRINNNG! It was called “MASTERPIECE” and it had 3”by5” cards with pictures of well-known paintings that you were supposed to bid-on in auction-like fashion. I doubt if anyone else remembers that game. I loved it. When I couldn’t get others to play with me, I simply took out the cards and studied the paintings.

What the game did for me was leave impressions in my psyche of certain pieces of art that have stuck with me my whole life.  Like Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and “la Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. When I visit the Art Institute, it is obligatory to visit those paintings every time, like visiting old friends to say ‘hi.’

All of this has led to my pursuit of 40 pieces of art about the Life and Death of Christ for a 40 day devotional for Lent. Since I gravitate towards renaissance art on religious themes, I tend to spend most of my visits wandering through the European galleries and I have identified some fascinating pieces… like Italian painter Carlo Crivelli’s “The Crucifixion” [below] in which the distorted, ashen face of Jesus haunts me and makes me want to beg for forgiveness. 

I’m hoping that the Lenten Devotional can lead to a greater appreciation of not only the art works themselves, but the relationship between faith and creative expression.  I'm also hoping to organize group visits to the Art Institute to walk through the galleries and experience the Lenten themes together.
 Please take note that the paintings and pictures above are gathered from Google Images. I do not think that posting them here violates any copyright laws, but it IS one of the issues I am looking into for producing the Devotional.  On-line reproductions from Chicago's Art Institute ARE protected by copyright laws and I am investigating the best and legal way to present the pieces, via link or directly through the AI's website.  I'm working on it!

Keeping the Faith,
Pastor T.


  1. Hey TP,this is fun. By the time your sabbatical is over I will know you so much better. Pretty sure I'll like you even more. Keep up the good thoughts I am really enjoying your musings.

  2. p.s. I put the part about liking you more 'cause I heard my friend TP saying uh oh after reading that I'd know you better. Yes! it will be a good thing.