Monday, October 07, 2002

Modern Art
I spent the weekend at St. Joseph's Retreat Center in Bailey's Harbour on the Door peninsula of Wisconsin. It is a beautiful location, which is further enhanced by the beautiful artwork throughout the buildings. I was especially struck by a series of paintings of Jesus and Mary painted as American Indians. Sometimes this kind of thing can be irritating, but these paintings were beautiful and had a depth that some modern art is devoid of. I especially liked one of Mary with Jesus in a papoos at her feet. There was also one of Jesus breaking a loaf of bread and one of Jesus the Teacher. Somehow the stoic expressions on the reminds me of Byzantine icons.

There is also on display a serious of large bas relief wood carving by Fr. Herman Faulk, S.C.J. which were modern in style, but quite moving. Most of them were biblical narratives, such as the creation of Eve from Adam's rib, but there were two that depicted events of 9/11.

Finally, more evidence that my artistic tastes are not always simply classical, there is a small chapel there on the second floor that is built in an old cement silo. It is a wonderful meditative place. The altar is one of those bailing wire spools with a flat board on top. At the center is an open Bible. In front of the bible is a little log with the tetragrammaton engraved in it. To the left is an unusual tabernacle which is a kind of 2 foot high glass "hut" with a ceramic pyx in it. On the right is a burning sanctuary light. There are hurricane lamps handing from wooden beams that separate the chapel from the top part of the silo. Depite its lack of classical motifs and artistic style, I find this place to be very moving and can experience the presence of the Triune Mystery by sitting Indian style in front of the tabernacle and Bible.

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