Archive for the 'Buddhism' Category

Archie Rand’s 613 Canvases Exhibited in Brooklyn Warehouse

May 21st, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Bloomberg] Mohammed al-Shroogi of Citigroup is trying to bring Islamic art to American collectors. “Art is the method to create a real connection between the U.S. and the Middle East,” he says, “Americans don’t expect Muslims to create contemporary art.'’
  • [NY1] Archie Rand, creator of the 1,700-square-foot “The 613” (one per commandment) says, “There’s some conflict between the belief of the observant Jewish community and the actual allowances that the law does allow for portraying scriptural or sacred subjects.” [I took the photo of the NY1 reporter interviewing Rand.]
  • [Nhan Dan] The show “Buddhist Fine Arts Go Along with the Nation’s Development” contains 170 works which highlight “the close bonds between Buddhism and Vietnam’s millennia-old culture.”
  • [Anglican Communion News Service] The Very Revd John Drury has won one of the 10 Lambeth Degrees awarded by the Archbishop of Canterbury for “his theological scholarship, arousing interest in religious art and for his significant contribution to liturgy and church music while Dean of King’s College Cambridge and Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.”
  • [Viet Nam News] “In the past, all the people knew how to paint. The trade was passed from father to son, from generation to generation,” said 80-year-old artisan Phan Trach Bao of religious pictures (tranh tho), “but now, few people follow the tradition.”
  • Interview: Rev. Ken Yamada

    May 21st, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

    Rev. Ken Yamada is a minister at Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple in Berkeley, Calif. He began with the following caveat: “As a Buddhist minister, I’m not an expert on art, but I do have a personal interest in Buddhist art and I sometimes refer to art as a means to teach Buddhism, which is the whole point of ‘Buddhist art.’ So that is my humble perspective in trying to provide feedback to your questions.”

    MW: To what extent, if at all, is creating art a religious experience in Buddhism, as opposed to simply an act of creating works that then take on religious significance?

    RKY: Both approaches represent two sides of the same coin. Artists create work meant to take on religious meaning. And the creation of art is also meant to be a religious experience.

    For example, an artist skilled in his craft, may carve a statute or paint a picture meant to depict a Buddha or a scene of a story in a sutra, which are then seen by others for their religious meaning.

    For those people who see the art only in terms of a beautiful object (such as viewers at a museum), the artwork is not really “Buddhist” in my opinion.

    The creation process ideally also is a religious experience. When a carver works on a statue, one form of practice is to perform a simple chant, such as “Nam Am Da Bu” while carving, over and over. This practice cultivates a calm, clear mind of appreciation. Consequently from this mind, a peaceful-looking Buddha emerges from the block of wood. The mind of the carver is just as important as skill in creating a statue of the Buddha.

    MW: Is there a such thing as Buddhist art per se? If so, what does it entail? Are there any subjects that are off limits to Buddhist artists?

    RKY: Traditionally, Buddhist art are representations of the symbols and images found in the sutras, which are the scriptures based on the historic Buddha’s sermons. For example, they will be different Buddhas, specific symbols such as lotus blossoms (which represents “wisdom”), or devil-like images (which represent anger and ignorance).

    However, Buddhism is very liberal in the sense that anything can be a teaching (Dharma) to us. Therefore, nothing is really off limits in terms of what subject or image form the basis of the art, as long as it expresses Truth as taught by the Buddha, such as “interdependence” or “nirvana” or “impermanence,” etc. Sometimes these teachings are deeply buried in the symbolism expressed by the art, so artwork must be studied, analyzed and meditated upon before these truths are realized by the viewer. This process too, of using art to move a person to think about life in a deep and profound way, is another means by which art serves its religious purpose. Mandalas are an obvious example of this process, as they are meant to be stared at and reflected upon continuously.
    Continue reading ‘Interview: Rev. Ken Yamada’

    Interview: Chuck Pettis, Founder, Earth Sanctuary

    May 12th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

    According to his biography on Earth Sanctuary, Chuck Pettis is a “visionary, designer, eco-artist, and author” and founder and owner of “Earth Sanctuary, a 72-acre nature reserve and meditation parkland on Whidbey Island, Washington.” He is a “dedicated practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, he deeply believes in the value of meditation,” and is the author, most recently, of Secrets of Sacred Space: Discover and Create Places of Power. Pettis is also the president of the Seattle-based Sakya Monastery. The image is from his site.

    MW: What is Sakya Monastery, and how is it different from other Buddhist monasteries?

    CP: For people seeking spiritual and personal growth, Sakya Monastery provides access to the Buddha’s teachings and guidance in a community of practitioners. Sakya Monastery provides a place to learn from highly qualified and spiritual Tibetan Lamas in a beautiful traditional setting.

    Sakya Monastery provides people the opportunity to learn and practice authentic and traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

    MW: When did you first get involved with the monastery?

    CP: I became involved with Sakya Monastery in 1995.

    MW: To what extent does Sakya promote the arts?

    Sakya Monastery does not promote the arts. Artwork in the form of paintings, statues, calligraphy and other media are a fundamental part of Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practices.

    MW: What is Earth Sanctuary?

    CP: Earth Sanctuary combines exemplary ecology with art and spirit to create a sanctuary for birds and wildlife and a peaceful place for personal renewal and spiritual connection. Earth Sanctuary is open every day of the year, rain or shine, during daylight hours. $7/person fee.

    MW: To what extent is your eco-art based on Buddhist principles?

    CP: Earth Sanctuary’s eco-art is universal in nature, being based on universal symbols and archetypes. We do have a number of Buddhist-based artworks. For example, we have a number of Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags around the property and also two Tibet-Tech prayer wheels.

    MW: More generally, to what extent, if at all, is creating art a religious experience in Buddhism, as opposed to simply an act of creating works that then take on religious significance?

    CP: At Sakya Monastery, we just had a workshop to create over 1,000 Tsa Tsa’s. ‘Tsa Tsa’ is a Tibetan term used to describe Buddha statues and relief images that are made as part of a particular meditation practice. Making tsa tsas is a preliminary spiritual practice used to eliminate obstacles, purify negativities, and create positive energy (merit). The tsa tsas were made with clay, that are then dried, and painted. These tsa tsa’s will then be placed inside a stupa to be build at the Tara Meditation Center at Earth Sanctuary, as a Tibetan Buddhist sacred space.

    Continue reading ‘Interview: Chuck Pettis, Founder, Earth Sanctuary’

    The World’s Youngest Professional Artist?

    May 8th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Dallas Morning News] Another great religion and art story from the DMN. “Traditional Asian art draws little distinction between religious observance and artistic creation,” observes Kevin Richardson, “and there are Buddhists, Hindus and others who believe that a deity’s spirit resides in sculptures or carvings of his likeness.”
  • [Stamford Times] The Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Stamford is showing the work of “17-year-old artist Stanislav (Stass) Shpanin,” who “was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest professional artist in the world.” Evidently Guiness hasn’t read about Freddie Linsky.
  • [mynews.in] Vidya Bhushan Rawat writes on “Art as medium of protest against powerful Brahmanical values” in Savi Savarkar’s work. The article is a bit dense.
  • Image: “Photo: Savi Sawarkar painting– Ambedkarite Monk.” From Vidya Bhushan Rawat’s article.

    An Arab and Jewish Gallery in Israel, a Getty Grant for Buddhist Art

    May 6th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Jerusalem Post] “I bring Arab and Jewish art here so that people can see another kind of dialogue between artists in Israel,” says Abu Shakra, who directs the Israel-based Umm el-Fahm Art Gallery.
  • [Skidmore College] Art history professor Rob Linrothe has won a Getty grant to study “Esoteric Buddhist (Tantric) deity Vajrasattva within South, Southeast, and East Asian social and religious networks during the eighth through 12th centuries.”
  • [Tomah Journal] Score: The Tomah Area School District - 0, students who want to use religious art symbols - 1. Thank God this argument from one of the art teachers did not fly: “Gangs have been a concern at Tomah High School. Because of the myriad of gang symbols, some of which use religious type symbolism [we] felt that it would be impossible to differentiate between certain gang symbols and religious symbols.” (HT: Ed Brayton)
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  • [SF Chronicle] Here’s a peculiar lede from David Ian Miller: “If I asked you to name the major artists who have produced a body of work with strong religious themes, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli and Rembrandt would probably come to mind. Whomever you chose, chances are that Andy Warhol wouldn’t make the list.” Am I too involved in this religious art business that I am making assumptions, or don’t most folks know Warhol made a ton of religious works?
  • Image: “Jane Dillenberger, Berkeley art historian and author of “The Religious Art of Andy Warhol.” Photo by Nicholas Ukrainiec. SF Chronicle.”

    Gardner Museum, Nidhi Tulli, Archie Rand, Qatar

    April 18th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [WorldNetDaily] Wisconsin is still ironing out why its schools permit drawing Buddhist and Hindu symbols and the devil, but not Christian ones. This explanation will be fun to see.
  • [Press Enterprise] Big claims from Leslie A. Brown, director of the Quad Art Gallery (whose site seems to be down): “I’ve read every major religious book from the Bible to the Torah to the cabala to books about Buddha. That’s what I read. That’s what turns me on … I love Hindu imagery. The supreme being in Hindu mythology is a black woman holding the head of rationality, a man, in her hand.”
  • [Bostonist] The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is showing “Luxury for Export,” which tells how “Indian goods and art were being shipped to Portugal, and Mughul rulers began collecting European/Christian art. The Indians and Portuguese cultures influenced each other for a few centuries, then many from both regions eventually settle in Massachusetts.” (More here.)
  • [Express India] Filmmaker Nidhi Tulli’s “Art in Exile” explores “the art styles of Tibetans that are slowly dying out or are fighting a losing battle against extinction.” Incidentally, “Tibetan art is primarily sacred art, with an overriding influence of Tibetan Budhism.”
  • [Jewish Press] Richard McBee reviews Archie Rands 613 canvas series.
  • Continue reading ‘Gardner Museum, Nidhi Tulli, Archie Rand, Qatar’

    A Very Expensive Islamic Key

    April 11th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Forward] Laurel Muary: “What gives Jewish art its power is often a screwy faithfulness to the very mores of the community that the artist is accused of betraying: devotion to a wild sense of truth, to education and to skill.”
  • [Washington Post] “One reason Jewish art music is so hard to pin down is that it is a relatively new phenomenon,” writes Anne Midgette. Maybe I have my history wrong, but weren’t the Levite songs in the temple quite a while ago? Why is there this pervasive notion that Jews don’t make art? Photo: Itzhak Perlman, Wash. Post.
  • [WDSU] A church member says of several churches which are to be closed: “I defy anyone who cares for Catholic art and architecture to tour our church here and not to be moved to tears with the thought that it could be sold to the highest bidder.”
  • [SF Chronicle] “We paint what we suffer and what we feel,” says Burma underground artist Thein Soe (pseudonym). “The majority of this is sadness.”
  • [NY Arts Magazine] On Hernández de Lueck’s works, which draw together many influences, including Russian icons and Byzantine religious art, Orientalism, and Persian rugs.
  • [LA Times] Praying with style. A show of haute couture, or “fashion in the Masses” in LA.
  • [ArtDaily]
    A key (left) which unlocks “one of the most venerated and highly honoured buildings in the world” sold for 18 times its estimated price, going to an anonymous buyer for £9,204,500 at Sotheby’s biannual Arts of the Islamic World Sale.
  • Roundup: “Buildings Mean Nothing to Jews”

    April 5th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Catholic News Service] Donald Jackson and his team of scribes have given the Pope the “Sistine Chapel of calligraphy,” the Saint John’s Bible.
  • (Image: Buddhist scholar Losang Samten, who dismantles his own sacred artwork and casts its remnants into running water. Tucson Citizen.)
  • [IHT] “We wanted to play around a little with the rules of Islamic art, to create something which builds on Oman’s terrific building heritage but translates it into a modern language,” says Gerard Evenden, lead architect and senior partner at Foster + Partners.
  • [WSJ] Joel Henning reviews the new Spertus museum in Chicago, noting in the post-9/11 era one would expect “an institute of Jewish studies to hunker down in a fortress. That the institute chose, instead, to expose itself through a glass wall makes this luminous, fanciful façade … all the more surprising and extraordinary.” Further: “The architects were not encouraged when the distinguished theologian and scholar Byron L. Sherwin told them that ‘buildings mean nothing to Jews. We had one building that was important to us, the temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed in the year 70 by the Romans.’ As a people of the Diaspora, Spertus Prof. Sherwin elaborated, Jews invested authority in things they could take with them, such as books and knowledge.”
  • [Jewish Journal, LA] The Jesuit school, Loyola Marymount University, is showing Midrashic works.
  • [Jerusalem Post] “For a woman to be a success, she needs chutzpah, like red legs and high-heeled shoes,” says Ruth Oren, whose photograph is on exhibit in Tel Aviv in “The Faces of Eve,” which demonstrates “the incredible richness of women’s roles in our society.”
  • Roundup: Buddhist Kinkade, a Failure of a Cross

    April 1st, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [FOXNews] A.P., a high school student, allegedly received a zero on a landscape drawing assignment for refusing to remove a cross and the words “John 3:16 A sign of love” from his work (above, photo: AP).
  • [Grand Rapids Press] Wildlife painter Catherine McClung is a “woman of great faith who actively studies the Bible” and “struggles with success and compliments.”
  • [LA Times] Cao Yong’s works are perhaps the Buddhist equivalent of “the critically reviled but vastly popular paintings of Thomas Kinkade.” Though Kinkade didn’t get in trouble with the Chinese police for painting nudes, at least not that I know of…
  • [Moroccan Design] Sarah Tricha writes on a Moroccan pattern in a Catholic church in Arizona.
  • Roundup: Austrian Culture Minister Wants “Clarity” on Whether Works were Looted by Nazis

    March 27th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [SF Chronicle] Austria’s culture minister, Claudia Schmied, wants “clarity” about the Leopold Museum’s allegedly looted works.
  • [LifeSiteNews.com] In another Vienna story, Dommuseum, which is attached to a cathedral, is showing Alfred Hrdlicka’s work that “includes depictions of explicit homosexual sex acts in ‘religious’ themed art.”
  • [Jewish News Weekly, N. Calif.] The Arthur Szyk Haggadah (see image) is now available for purchase. Info here.
  • [Shanghai Daily] Thirty Tibetan thangkas are on exhibit at the Shanghai High Noon Art and Culture Center in Pudong. Can anyone shed some light on why there doesn’t seem to be any web presence for this place?
  • Should Buddha Sell This Well?

    March 18th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

    CBC has the story on a pretty costly wooden, seated Buddha, which set a record for most expensive piece of Japanese art. The piece is by Unkei, “considered one of the best carvers of the early Kamakura period in the 1190s.”

    The pre-auction estimate was $1.5-2 million, so the piece has certainly exceeded expectations. But am I crazy to find it a bit strange that Buddha, who is said to have been quite critical of materialism, is selling so well?

    Roundup: Ugly Jews, Attractive Sentimentality

    March 13th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • (Image: Student German Vazquez, who’s inspired by Middle Eastern art and Buddhism. The Advocate)
  • [Wash. Post] A 1-woman show for Frida, Jewish-born father (?) turned atheist, “With Herself as Artist and Subject.”
  • [Forward] Vitebsk’s Jewish artists flourished thanks to Yuri Moiseevich Pen, “the Adam of his artsy race.”
  • [Haaretz] In Middle Ages Christian art, Jews are ugly, but somehow rabbis spun it so that “The source of the ugliness was their sexual purity,” while Christians’ beauty “derived from an impure source.”
  • [Patry Copyright Blog] William Patry, senior copyright counsel at Google, writes on copyrights and Anschluss, particularly how they interact with “Degenerate Art.”
  • [Aristasia] In defense of the “attractiveness” of “sentimental” Christian and Hindu art.
  • [Boston Globe] On the biblical source for Judaic needlework and The Pomegranate Guild.
  • [Abigail’s Alcove] A Catholic art critic skips the Greek revival and baroque sections (”Those are just myths”) and falls in love with Rubens “through the eyes of Faith.”
  • [16 and Q Blog] A recap of Ori Soltes’ lecture on “Jewish Abstract Expressionists After the Holocaust.”
  • Roundup: LDS Church Aplogizes for Religious Art Vandalism, an Anti-Koran Film

    March 11th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Salt Lake Tribune] Their mistake was posting their pictures on Photobucket. Now, 2 years later, the LDS Church is apologizing for its missionaries, who showed “disrespect” by photographing themselves adding a Mormon taste to a church in Colorado. See image, where one man holds a copy of the Book of Mormon. See also this and this.
  • [SF Chronicle] 33 Islamic women artists are showing work in Kabul. One says, “I couldn’t paint during Taliban regime because I didn’t have enough material, and I wasn’t allowed to go out and buy paint.” Another adds, “I was young and couldn’t go to the art center to learn because as a girl, I wasn’t allowed to go to school.” An interesting article (though perhaps a bit one-sided), with a sad ending.
  • [CBC] After spending his time at a Zen Buddhist retreat and losing his savings, Leonard Cohen is back on tour for the first time in 15 years.
  • [Mixed Multitudes] On “The Holocaust in the Arts & Education.”
  • [PopMatters] On getting chummy with musicians. Is John Zorn right to try to silence journalists? (I covered Zorn a while ago here.)
  • [Religion News Blog 1, 2] To show an anti-Koran film, or not to show it? Network Solutions gives it the thumbs up; Dutch stations say no way.
  • Roundup: A Controversial Exhibit in Vienna, A Museum Without Jews

    March 4th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • Katayun Saklat has a dream: “It would be an art museum which would house pieces on the theme of seven major religions of the world, including Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, necessarily in that order,” reports the Telegraph, India. I wonder if she misplaced the “not of ‘not necessarily’” in the same place she forgot about Judaism and Jewish art.
  • ArtIslam, a London-based venue of abstract Islamic art, has won a Muslim News Award for Excellence. (Image from ArtIslam)
  • Founded by Prince Charles, the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts teaches traditional Islamic art, reports The Daily Star, Lebanon.
  • The Leopold Museum’s (Vienna) exhibit of Albin Egger-Lienz includes “over a dozen works of dubious origin,” according to some. The European Jewish Press reports (via AFP) one of the works was given to Hitler on his birthday in 1939. Other versions: CBC, China Post
  • One morning, Will Towns woke up with a revelation: “to create letters out of quarter-inch ceramic floor tiles and use them to spell out Bible verses on a plank of wood.” Since then, he’s created about 60 such pieces, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • Writing on “Dumb Art Gallery Owners Make Dumb Decision to Close Dumb Exhibition” on Blogger News Network, Clarsonimus elaborates on a BBC story and wonders why Danish artists are again at the center of religious controversy.
  • Roundup: Religious Prison Art, Building Bible Park USA

    February 25th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Daily News Journal, Tenn.] Bible Park USA is seeking governmental help to build the $175 million operation.
  • [Chicago Tribune] Amy Irvine, whose “family tree reaches back to one of the original Mormon saints,” simultaneously mourns the loss of her “paternal grandmother, Ada, [who] was an atheist and an artist enthralled by the dramatic beauty of southern Utah’s red-rock desert” and Utah’s landscape in her book “Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land. (Image: Amazon)”
  • [Woodland Witchery] Why is it, wonders Rev. Patrick McCollum, “Depictions of Jesus and Mary in prison chapels are commonplace, as are other symbols of Christian faith and deity,” yet Wiccans and other minority faiths get no religious allowances. “It’s because the administrators and security staff see the dominant faith’s use of these items as normal, and the minority faith’s use of these exact same items as weird or dangerous, because the services in which minority faiths utilize these items look different to them than those that they are used to.”
  • [CCTV] The National Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, is reporting record numbers (20k/day) for Buddhist art exhibit “The Lights of Dunhuang.” The show includes, “ten recreated caves, thirteen replicas of ancient sculptures, nine originals and one hundred mural copies, all from the Mogao Grottoes.”
  • Continue reading ‘Roundup: Religious Prison Art, Building Bible Park USA’

    Roundup: Columbian Police Recover Stolen Religious Artifacts

    February 21st, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Northwest Asian Weekly] “Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective” at the Seattle Art Museum includes 165 pieces from the permanent collection, including “grotesque” tomb guardians.
  • [The Guardian] “As an art-loving Jewish atheist,” Mike Marqusee often wonders, “What can the masterpieces of Christian art mean to the non-Christian?” The piece is long, but worth reading.
  • [Philadelphia Inquirer] Aside from buying religious art, Maurice Cusatis bought a church, which he has turned into Diamond Chapel Antiques.
  • (Image: Salt Lake Tribune) A neo-Gothic, mid-19th century window from a cathedral in Belgium, which now calls Anthony’s Fine Art and Antiques in Salt Lake City home.
  • [ARTINFO] Colombian police have caught four people suspected of stealing “a golden crown, scepter, and cape of a statue of the Virgin Mary” and part of the 1705 Riobamba Monstrance “made of gold and silver and encrusted with thousands of diamonds, pearls, emeralds, and other precious stones. It weighs 36 kilograms and is valued at several million dollars.”
  • [NY Sun] Cairo-born, Muslim artist Ghada Amer is showing her work in “Love Has No End” at the Brooklyn Museum. “The artist remembers herself as a young Muslim art student who, though sheltered, did not hesitate to challenge the dictates of her teachers or enlist her art-making as a means of rebelling against her restrictive upbringing,” writes Alix Finkelstein. “When a male professor failed her in his painting class, she began to experiment with the medium of thread.”
  • [Etownian] Christina Bucher has published “The Song of Songs and the Enclosed Garden in Fifteenth-Century Paintings and Engravings of the Virgin Mary and the Christ-Child.” It sounds like it’s worth looking out for…
  • Roundup: Buddha in NY, Exhibitting Stolen Art

    February 19th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Arutz Sheva] As several museums have recently lost art to thieves, the Israel Museum is showing art stolen during the Holocaust, including one fascinating Chagall (photo included in the article) I’ve never seen before.
  • Photo: NY Times, from “Inspired by Buddha, Admired as Art.” Money quote: “‘People’s faces looked very calm and peaceful while viewing the sculptures in Tokyo,’ said Hiroko Sakomura, 59, the show’s executive producer. ‘It will be interesting to see what happens in New York, the most powerful, intense metropolis with an emphasis on art.’”
  • [Bangkok Post] The Preah Vihear temple (for worshiping Shiva), which sits on a cliff, needs restoring, but “conservation work has rarely been done at the site, partly because of adjacent minefields left by the wars in Cambodia.” The director of the Thai Archeology Office says “‘In the field of arts and culture, we all know that the work has no frontier because the site belongs to humanity.” (Added bonus, learn the word ‘anastylosis.’
  • Image: ABC, of Saint John’s Bible, the first bible in nearly 500 years to be created completely by hand. See here for more information.
  • [Belfast Telegraph] A humorous account by Mark Hughes of Smart Arts: A guide to bluffing contemporary art.
  • Roundup: Saving Churches, Praying like Trees, All Art is Not Christian Art

    February 12th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [CU Boulder] CU Boulder’s Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies will hold the annual conference “From Buddha’s Belly to St. Bridget’s Head: Sacred and Devotional Objects, East-West” on the 14th and 15th.
  • (Image) Roy Herberger, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, who wants his church to become a museum of religious art. [The Buffalo News]
  • [Reuters Africa] “In Sufism, when we’re standing in prayer, we’re like trees, when we’re bending, we’re like other kinds of animals,” said Senegalese painter Amadou Kan-Si, “it’s like we are writing on space, because we have different postures. It’s about a visual formulation of transcendence by human beings.”
  • [The American Muslim] On “Wikipedia and Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad: The Latest Inane Distraction,” TAM’s Jeremy Henzell-Thomas writes, “What a crying shame it is that such non-issues are blown up out of all proportion into veritable firestorms by so many thoughtless Muslims, when there is such a need to discuss so many important issues in a thoughtful and intelligent way.”
  • [Carried the Cross] In response to Madeline L’Engle’s claim that all true art is Christian art, the anonymous writer of the excellent blog CTC writes, “It is representative of a strong sense of arrogance on the part of my Christian counterparts that I have heard again and again: ‘there is no such thing as an atheist, just someone who doesn’t want to admit God exists.’” This blog looks worth watching.
  • An LDS Rembrandt Show, Faithful Photography

    February 7th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Capazoo] “Christian art doesn’t need to be heavy handed. I enjoy being a photographer that can have shows at galleries and be successful in such a competitive industry while also not comprising or hiding my faith in Jesus Christ,” says Nick Fancher. “My faith is who I am first and foremost, and my photography is what I am the rest of the day.”
  • [Gothamist] John Del Signore interviews Robert Thurman, “the first American ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk” and co-founder of Tibet House, which in part “raise[s] funds to support Tibetan cultural projects like art departments in schools.”
  • [YourHub] “From Dürer to Rembrandt: The Renaissance of Faith in Art,” an exhibit of 200 works, is all from Shawn Merriman’s collection. It will travel around Denver and hit a bunch of LDS churches. Info here.
  • Ugly Churches, Disappearing Buddhas, UN Vandalism

    February 4th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [New Media Alliance] Are individuals affiliated with the UN defacing sacred art? Even a UN official is “appalled” at the vandalism.
  • [Sun-Herald] Port Charlotte, Fl.-based St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church’s mosaic, purchased from Moroneys’ Religious Art, arrived in “tiny little boxes” and took five months to create. But this “very expensive jigsaw puzzle” was worth it. The pastor calls it “a reminder of what we celebrate.”
  • (Image: Wayne Berube, who only reads newspapers and the Bible, says “The Bible is so unexplored by artists of this generation … Every artist does his little Christ on the cross, maybe, and then beyond that, they run out of inspiration. A lot of times, it’s an irreverent Christ on the cross, too. And there’s the elephant-dung Madonna.” Photo: New Mexico Daily Lobo.)
  • [Christian Post] Christians build ugly churches, writes Chuck Colson, which “reveals how far Christians have strayed from the place beauty and art are meant to have in our lives.” In the end, to Colson, religious art isn’t a tool for getting folks in to church, it’s praising God.
  • [News Press] Even as a Benedictine monk painter, Jerome Tupa doesn’t consider his work religious. “He prefers the word ’spiritual.’ He’s not, for example, seeking to convert anyone. He just wants them to feel the same awe he feels inside these buildings.”
  • Continue reading ‘Ugly Churches, Disappearing Buddhas, UN Vandalism’

    Jesus with a Dinosaur, Selling Himmler’s Portrait

    February 2nd, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [Image: The Lawrence Journal-World] Alan Detrich beside his work “Resurrection,” a “6-foot-4 statue of Jesus with a curled-up dinosaur at his feet.” Detrich says he sees the piece as an inspiration for people to “ask more questions about our origins,” rather than an answer to nonbelievers.
  • [America: The National Catholic Weekly] America has a profile of religious artist Alfonse Borysewicz. The profile is only available to subscribers, but see the great slide show here.
  • [Jewish Chronicle] Jasper Joffe is perhaps most surprised that his painting of Heinrich Himmler sold for £3,000 to “Iraqi-born Jewish art collector Charles Saatchi.” The Jewish painter adds, “I was focused on the process of painting, rather than the character I was depicting.”
  • Continue reading ‘Jesus with a Dinosaur, Selling Himmler’s Portrait’

    A Robotic Biblical Scribe, Losing Iraqi Art

    January 29th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • [India eNews] This German robot (photo: ZDNet) is one-upping the God-Jesus bot from Bandai. It’s certainly no homework machine (or HawkinsonSignature“), but it has finished writing a manuscript of the bible, with only two misspelled words of 800,000 (783,137 according to this site).
  • [Stanford Daily] “In a couple of years, it is going to be difficult to talk about Iraqi art at all,” according to Nada Shabout, who spoke on the panel “Iraq: Reframe: Iraq’s Lost National Treasures” at Stanford.
  • [Star Phoenix] Sylvain Bouthillette, who is Buddhist and “cannot talk about his art without talking about his spirituality,” says, “I’m not going to paint a nice landscape to make people feel good … The show is trying to bring people to action. Spirituality in action is the next revolution.”
  • [Boston Globe] Maria-Luise Bissonnette is appealing the court decision that she must return “Girl from the Sabine Mountains,” which was looted by the Nazis.
  • Dallas’ African Art Museum Chief Curator Resigns, When is a Jug an Islamic Jug?

    January 22nd, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • A jug, which “may be a rare 11th-century Islamic artifact worth millions,” sold for $430k. [The Art Newspaper, IHT, Independent (UK)]
  • Virginia Peck’s “Buddha Room” inspires viewers to “walk into a gallery and promptly plop themselves on the floor to meditate.” [Boston Globe]
  • “Buddhist Sculpture From Xiangtangshan” at the Freer includes “the most beautiful of all Chinese Buddhist carvings.” [Washington Times]
  • “When I see gold on a painting, I tend to look for a spiritual intent,” writes Judy Rey Wasserman, who likes adding biblical texts (like Psalms) to her paintings’ borders. [UnGraven Image at Blogger]
  • Phillip E. Collins, chief curator at the African American Museum (Dallas) who organized the 1994 show “African Zion: Sacred Art of Ethiopia,” has resigned. [Pegasus News Wire]
  • More on Holocaust restitution, including Fritz Glaser’s collection. [Washington Post]
  • (Image) “On-going exhibition on Buddhist Art.”
  • New Mexico Acquires $3m worth of Devotional Art, a 4-ton Buddha Returns

    January 18th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • The regents of the Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, voted unanimously to accept a collection of 263 pieces of “Hispanic devotional art,” for which it had already paid $3 million. [AP/ABC]
  • Brazilian artist Susana Barros says, “I am fascinated by this culture. The Egyptian figures and Islamic drawings inspired me.” Her daughter’s belly-dancing classes were also responsible, believe it or not. (Image: Barros’ “Ebony Painting” from her website.) [ANBA]
  • A four ton, 12th century Buddha is back at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (at University of Oregon) in the show “Buddhist Visions.” [The Register-Guard]
  • Almost 250 “major works of Islamic art” from the Louvre are headed to Istanbul’s Sabanci University Sakıp Sabancı Museum. [Turkish Daily News]
  • Father John Dietzen responds to a question about “why crucifixes in Catholic churches usually include the figure of Christ and Protestant crosses do not.” [Catholic Times]
  • Deities with Weapons, a Soot Stained Church

    January 9th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • (Right) Jusepe de Ribera’s “The Immaculate Conception” (1637), from the Columbia Museum of Art. David Steel, European art curator at the Mint Museum of Art, says, “This painting tells you everything you need to know about high Catholic art at the time.” [The State, SC]
  • In “Hamzanama,” the Sackler brought together “the long-dispersed pages of what is probably the most ambitious single artistic undertaking ever produced by the atelier of an Islamic court.” [NY Times]
  • Many think they have evangelicals pegged, but Eileen Flynn insists it’s not so simple, with reference to “a local arts festival that challenges stereotypes many hold about Christian art.” [The Statesman]
  • Though many think of Buddhists as pacifists, Karen Rosenberg points out, “In ancient Himalayan paintings, deities brandish weapons, including the Sword of Wisdom, in defense of religious doctrines.” [NY Times]
  • According to legend, Bishop Camillus Paul Maes picked 10th and Madison for the site of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, because he thought it’s proximity to the railroad tracks would lead to soot stains on the façade “and make it look ancient.” [The Enquirer, Cincinnati]
  • Continue reading ‘Deities with Weapons, a Soot Stained Church’

    Afghani Remnants, 2 Kitaj Shows, Aesthetic Peace Plan for the Middle East

    January 9th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • In twins Brennon and Alonzo Edwards’ tag team, pictured, Alonzo makes religious art, which Brennon sells. Alonzo says of his piece on Amnon’s rape of Tamar, “I started praying on it, and I got a vision of how to paint it.” [The Flint Journal]
  • Andrea Useem, creator and publisher of ReligionWriter, writes on “What Makes a Movie ‘Christian?’” with an interview of Phil Vischer. Veggie haters beware. [ReligionWriter.com]
  • The Met is looking for a new director to replace Philippe de Montebello. One candidate is MOMA director Glenn Lowry, whose specialty is Islamic art. [NY Times]
  • Mel Alexenberg posts a blog on his “Aesthetic Peace Plan for the Middle East.” I’ve written about Mel here and interviewed him here. [Aesthetic Peace]
  • Leah Ollman writes on “two landmark exhibitions” of Kitaj’s works “focusing on Kitaj’s prolific obsession with things Jewish.” [LA Times]
  • The traveling show “Hidden Afghanistan” at Amsterdam’s Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) offers tells the “engrossing tale” of remnants of Afghanistan’s art were saved from the Taliban. [TIME magazine]
  • Continue reading ‘Afghani Remnants, 2 Kitaj Shows, Aesthetic Peace Plan for the Middle East’

    Anne Frank the Musical, Keeping Christ in Christmas

    January 8th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • The musical “The Diary of a Young Girl” travels to Madrid, starring Isabella Castillo, 13, who fled Cuba with her mother. [NY Times]
  • On Korean designers in New York, including Gene Kang and Hanii Yoon, whose clothing line Y & Kei is inspired by Buddhism. [Korea.net]
  • Some angels rescue; the pair of “beautifully sculpted marble angels” which hang at the Cincinnati Art Museum needed a “near-miracle” to be rescued. [Cincinnati Enquirer]
  • The religious art of Alice Rezza, 82, “helps keep Christ in Christmas.” Rezza (pictured), who says “I am most interested in the religious work. Nothing gives me more satisfaction,” seems to find her work surfacing just about everywhere. [Catholic Herald, WI]
  • The Utrecht Psalter, along with fourteen centuries of religious art are on exhibit in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. [Religious Intelligence]
  • “In classical antiquity, when the gods were thought of as super-powerful people, there was no difficulty about portraying them,” argues John Armstrong. “But in the Judaic tradition, from which Christianity evolved, the conception of God was quite different. God was essentially hidden and immaterial, an essence without an appearance.” The story is of course not that simple, but the piece is well worth reading. [The Australian]
  • Catholic Art Collector Tries to Sell Princess’ Hair, Harry Potter Glasses to Commemorate the Holocaust

    January 7th, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • (Above) Two works from St George’s Basilica which will hang at a new museum of Christian art in Victoria. [Times of Malta]
  • Christian art is often “uninspired and repetitive, especially for non-Christians,” argues Erin Dienst. “Rather than engaging cultural beliefs and assumptions, many Christians are content to keep singing happy little salvation songs from aboard their lifeboats without regard to the people who are still struggling in the water.” [The Daily Evergreen]
  • Bruce Gotobed, a former Jesuit priest and Catholic art collector, whose lock of Princess Diana’s hair was yanked from an online auction, says, “I know it sounds creepy, but keeping the hair of the dead been a cultural practice since before recorded time. The Catholic Church used to dismember the bodies of saints as relics.” [Sunday Star Time, NZ]
  • A Holocaust memorial stack of glasses now includes those of Jewish Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. [The Herald, UK]
  • Prince Charles’ office has released a list of the gifts he received during his visit in Qatar, ranging from “pistols to coins to an Arab stallion.” [The Peninsula, Qatar]
  • XIIth Kuanding Tai Situpa, “a renowned Buddhist teacher and scholar, a poet, calligrapher, artist,” is exhibiting his work in a show of Indian still life painting at Delhi Art Gallery. [Deccan Herald]
  • Marilyn Henry on “Restitution roulette.” [Jerusalem Post]
  • Copyrighting the Sistine Chapel, a GPS for Jesus

    January 1st, 2008 by Menachem Wecker

  • A fascinating story on Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and copyright law, particularly in the face of restoration. [The Register, UK]
  • The story of Jews and comic books is hardly new, but here’s another tale of Superman, “with ridiculous ease,” capturing Stalin and Hitler from the Jewish Museum of Florida. [Miami Herald]
  • The installation “Forming Light II” by Sophia Dixon, who was an artist in residence at a Zen center in Germany, was taken down at Colorado State University after it was perhaps vandalized. [The Fort Collins Coloradoan]
  • The figures they depict may be divine, but these sculptures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are getting GPS trackers. [Miami Herald, via As in the Days of Noah]
  • A religious art angle on Hillary Clinton, via Don Jones and an interesting interpretation of Picasso’s “Guernica.” [NH Primary]
  • An interesting story (or perhaps rant) on LACMA. [Jewish Journal]
  • Musharraf “Shocked” by Gulgee’s Death, Bon Art

    December 20th, 2007 by Menachem Wecker

  • President Pervez Musharraf is “shocked” by the death of Pakistani artist Gulgee, particularly for his impact on Islamic art. [Pakistan Times]
  • Christmas is the time for looking at the Old Masters. Jonathan Jones posts his five favorite images for greeting cards. [The Guardian]
  • “All too often we hear it said, very wrongly and inaccurately, that classical music is a ‘western Christian art,’” but “opera and ballet can be enjoyed as a human right of civilized countries … which reaches way past boundaries of religion and nationality.” [The New Anatolian]
  • “A Mondrian abstraction, an ancient Greek sculpture of a youth, or a Corot landscape can be as spiritually uplifting as a Buddha or a crucifix,” argues Lance Esplund. “In art, it is not what the subject brings to the artwork, but rather what the artist brings to his subject.” Read on for a crash course in Bon art. [NY Sun]
  • The Royal Ontario Museum is opening a South Asian Gallery, whose first exhibit will be “Playful Krishna,” which will highlight “the colourful life of Krishna, Hinduism’s most powerful divinity.” [Earth Times]
  • On Tanner’s Annunciation: “Let’s play the imagination game. In your mind, what would a first-century Jewish young woman of modest means look like? Think historically. Now look at the painting. What do you see? Is Tanner’s painting similar to what you imagined the scene should look like, if painted accurately?” [Baptist Press]
  • The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Sparks is one silver replica of “The Last Supper” poorer, after thieves lifted it. [KOLO TV]
  • Joshua Cohen on Kitaj’s “Second Diasporist Manifesto: A New Kind of Long Poem in 615 Free Verses.” [Forward]