Monday, August 4, 2014

Paint like a Spaniard

It's been a while, but I'm pleased to announce a new project... and a new blog. Thank you to all who have been reading as I worked on the paintings for the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. This fall I'll be painting like a Spaniard with the Musicians of Ma'alwyck. What does that mean?

You have to click the link below to find out...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Plans

Big Bun I

I've just finished varnishing Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in God's Creation, and will be reinstalling that in the church at Rosa Road when the varnish is dry. But what do I do now with no saints to paint? I have a few projects lined up for the near term. I'll be participating in an invitational show at the Albany Center Gallery in July. On July 26th I'll be leading a workshop at the annual Tekakwitha Conference titled Painting St. Kateri Tekakwitha: Iconography and History. The conference takes place in Fargo this year, and I'm excited to see some of the great plains. Besides these events I'll be doing what I love: painting, sketching, and planning my classes for the fall.

In September, Katria and I will begin work on a commission for Terra Nova Church on the theme of the Last Seven Words of Christ, and maybe another portrait or two. I may start a new blog, and will post the details here. Plans are tentative at this point.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


If you weren't there, you missed a great party last night. Thanks to Charles and Linda Becker, who helped do the honors. For those of you that missed it, above you'll see the completed painting, which will soon hang in the 1803 Union Street church of the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish. Below is an excerpt from my speech at the unveiling.

"I’d like to thank Charles and Linda Becker and the other donors who made this painting possible. I'd also like to thank the parish community for their involvement in this project, through the support and collaboration of the Art Committee, but also through the emails and comments I’ve received on my blog.

A while back I told a friend I’d be working on this commission. He was happy for me, but he asked what the appeal of her was: what miracles did she perform? She died in her mid twenties and he wasn’t aware that she had done very much during her life. The first miraculous happening doesn’t occur until after her death on April 17th, 1680. This is the change in her appearance asserted by her biographers: Pierre Cholonec writes, “Her face, so marked and swarthy, suddenly changed about a quarter of an hour after her death and became in a moment so beautiful and so radiant that I observed it immediately.” This is after she’s died. But other would miracles follow. Within years of her death the site of her burial had become an important pilgrimage site. All of this is indicative of her character: her humility, her absolute dependence on God. This is a challenge to us. After all, nothing is less American than dependence. We are brought up to be independent. But paradoxically, it is in our poverty that we find true riches, in giving that we receive, and in dying that we find true life.

The gospels are full of this inverted value system. Christ is continually challenging his disciples to see the truth in spite of appearances. It is in response to the topsy-turvy value system of the Kingdom of God that prompts the disciples, in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of Luke to say to the Lord, "Increase our faith." Jesus replies, "If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you’

You see, we naturally compete. I have this much, you have that much. What Jesus is saying is that regardless of how little we think we have, it is more than enough to do marvelous things. But we hear Christ’s instruction to store up treasure in heaven, his description of faith the size of a mustard seed, and we think, “So! It is quantifiable!” How tragic is it that we can even become materialistic about faith. But St. Kateri calls us to renunciation and humility. It doesn’t matter how many miracles you perform, bible verses you memorize, people you convert, how many loaves and fishes you multiply. Trust God, and God will accomplish it. 

St. Kateri lived humbly before God, embracing a life of prayer and meditation, and displaying the love of God for all around her. She Trusted that the greatness God had in store for her might not even occur within her lifetime. In this she is an example to us. 

So what could I say to my friend who didn't think she had enough miracles? The love of god permeated her life to such an extent that her form could not contain it. It spilled forth beyond the expiration of her body in healings, miraculous appearances, and the edification of indigenous Catholics to this day."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Unveiling | June 2nd, 7pm at 1803 Union Street

We have about a week to go until the painting, St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the Children will be unveiled at the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish.  The parish will host a reception at 1803 Union Street in Schenectady on June 2nd at 7:00pm.  The event is open to the public. It would be great to see you there.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Haudenosaunee Beadwork Part III

Last week, I posted an excerpt from Leigh Graham's capstone paper on Haudenosaunee art. What follows is a third piece of Leigh's research into the history and tradition of beadwork.

Haudenosaunee Beadwork, Part III
From, "Contemporary Social Issues Through Haudenosaunee Art" by Leigh Graham
Until the 18th century, beads were mainly used to ornament personal garments. In the 1790s, Haudenosaunee bead workers began sewing designs onto pincushions, mirrors, and other small objects to be traded to non-natives. In the 1850s Haudenosaunee bead workers developed an original style of raised bead working. The beads were sown in an overlapping pattern, until the pattern was raised about a quarter of an inch off of the fabric. Haudenosaunee beadwork remained a small business until the 1880 New York State Fair where raised beadwork was exhibited to the public. By the 1890s, the beadwork had become a common New York souvenir. By this point new colors of velvet had been introduced, and glass beads came in red, blue, green, yellow, and white. Calico was used as a backing and the interior was stuffed with sawdust and natural plant fibers.[1] 
Tourists from all over the world traveled to New York to purchase a piece of “authentic artwork, straight from the Indians.”[2] The designs varied from simple patterns to motifs of flowers and animals. These nature symbols appealed to the non-Native population at the tail end of the Romantic Period. Beadwork was the one of the only traditional art forms that survived the reservation system due to continuing commercial demand.. Bead workers have been considered to be the keepers of the keepers of the culture.[3] Some were viewed as craft workers, churning out bead work in a production line, while others used beadwork to create true art, each piece unique and carefully thought out by the artist in order to carry out a concept.

[1]  Dolores Elliot. Birds and Beasts in Beads: 150 Years of Iroquois Beadwork. (Hamilton: Colgate University Press, 2011), 10.
[2] Ibid, 17.
[3] Ibid, 15.