Balanced

Balanced Everyone knows what art is. It has exactly 4 sides and 4 corners in a rectangular fashion with a recognizable object painted photogenically in an overly and painstakingly detailed style. The it usually consists of a piece of fruit or a delicate flower or even perhaps a perfect serene landscape that seems to have popped right out heaven itself. Our eyes skim over it, recognize it, find comfort in it, and move on, awed by the artist’s ability to render the likeness in exquisite detail. The End. However, move on to a modern art museum and we are sometimes visually assaulted by a conglomerate of colors and unrecognizable and even sometimes offensive images that resemble a sort of visual cacophony! It can often leave viewers, confused and irritated.

It appears at first that “art” has only 2 functions. To be unchallenged and unchanged or to be shocked into repulsion. Here at Central though, I intend to redefine the public view of art and make it more accessible to everyday people and life. Art based in spirituality is a balance between provoking thought without the assault. After spending some time walking the empty rooms after the rush and bubbling of Sunday service has past, I have discovered this balance is already present inside small pockets and corners of the church.The church itself is an imposing stone figure with its roof and bell tower stretching deep into the sky. The architectural engineering is an art form in itself design to evoke feelings of majesty and awe. It’s permanence on the ground gives weight to the imposing and permanence of Gods character that is reflected in the entire outside structure of the building. The line of stained glass windows promises your eyes a visual journey as well as a spiritual one. As you enter the Sanctuary your eyes are immediately drawn upwards to the cascading wooden beams that cross and bend creating a beautiful geometric pattern that is highlighted by the different colored sections of the walls. Pattern, geometry, and order dominate the artistic landscape revealing yet another character of God. Then, your eyes follow the symmetrical line of pews leading you up to the front of the sanctuary re-enforcing the rule of order until you behold the main stained glass window. There your eyes hold onto the recognizable form of the Christ figure. But upon further inspection up close you begin to see the order and geometry is balanced and countered with the subtleties of the abstract shapes, colors, and forms within the figure and surrounding landscape, giving away the sublime nature of the Spirit of God which has no form. It is in this balance between form and abstraction, order and disorder, intense color with neutral color that echos the character that we find in God that is present in nature and in the Bible as well as in the individual. If you’ve never done so, look deeply into the stained glass windows and find the pieces of realism coupled with pieces that are abstract. Let you eyes rest where they may and scrutinize what stands out to you and why. Do they resemble the notion of God that you know or does it challenge it?

Clearly architecture and stained glass windows are labeled artwork without argument but what of the nuances of the practical every day objects we overlook at the church. As I walk further into the sanctuary I ask myself how many times have I overlooked the beautifully craved pews or studied the carvings at the front of the church. How long and pain staking it must have been to create such intricate detailed sculptures. Even as I wandered from room to room the placement of the windows were designed to allow the soft cool light to stream through these long windows and illuminate each corner gently and peacefully. There are corners with pillows that invite one to sit and read and contemplate in solitude. Even the color of the wood trim and doors evoke a sense of welcome and warmth. Here, in this church rich in visual goodies brings an air of welcome, contemplation, growth, spiritual awakenings, and peace. Perfection is not required here, only an open mind and eyes to see.There is intentional and unintentional art in every corner of the church from an old worn piano to the beautiful stained glass windows, to the grey stones that form the church to the bright red door, to carefully thought out construction of the building, to the placement of the windows, to the cascading wooden beams overhead! Here at Central United Methodist Church is an artist’s playground with the possibilities of a blank canvas and the inspiration of a spiritual house!

I invite you to journey into this place and wander and take note of the art that speaks to you! You will not be disappointed.

Central United Methodist Church

17 Nanticoke Dr

Endicott NY

Art: the Killer of Lonliness

Loneliness, I’ve read, is the source of growing mental and physical health problems across America. It is felt from the very young to the very old. As jobs hold more of our time than in the past we have less time to spend with those we care about the most. Coupled with social media,we are even more isolated than before. The aging population are greatly affected by this growing concern and resources are slim to accommodate the inflated need for companionship.

Once we have isolated ourselves from the rest of the world we begin to believe that we cannot relate to nor believe others can relate to, ourselves. Interactions can become difficult and awkward. The cycle of thoughts stemming from our awkward interactions validates our belief that we are, indeed, unworthy of companionship. Competitiveness and comparisons crowd our thoughts, and feelings of inadequacy reinforces that feeling of unworthiness. It is a difficult pattern to break.

This pattern can be broken though, through many different forms. Music, dance, journaling, meditation, prayer, spirituality are some that come to mind but the form that appeals to me most is the process of creation, namely of art. Not just because of the benefits proven time and time again by researchers, but because I have seen and experience this power before. I can list the researchers and the articles and the specific benefits that creativity can bring all day long but I am a personal creature by nature and I draw (no bun intended) on those personal experiences as proof. The many people who have come to my classes I have remained friends with to this day.

The creation of art brings people together by sharing the experience of creativity . Ideas, techniques, and frustrations as well as joys and success are all shared around the table. Jokes, laughter, concerns about topics that are much deeper than just how to apply paint on canvas come up. I’ve seen tears shed in laughter and in pain across the easels. I’ve seen children that never met before instantly become friends through their simple interest in painting unicorns and mermaids. Under the roof that is art, strangers from different backgrounds find their community. Art kills, for a time if not forever, this illusion of separation of the other. Art kills the illusion of us and them.

I know that the mass majority of us are not Rembrandt’s, including myself but why should that stop us from enjoying the elements that make up art? Do you ever stop yourself, dazzled by the intensity of a color or how the light dances across a face? Do you get lost in someone’s eyes, or become transfixed on a sunset. Before art can be made, beauty has to be appreciated and most of us have that innate ability. I urge you to find yourself a beginners class, a sip and paint, a drink and draw, and all the other clever titles that they might have to capture your attention, and take your brush boldly to a canvas among the many others who are seeking friendship to paint badly but without care for everyone can find comfort and much needed humor that lightens the soul. I promise you it is not like any other experience and most people walk away a little more connected. After all who could argue with all these smiling faces?