The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
My wife is a list maker and has slowly turned me on to the art.

For a while I used a Palm Pilot, but found it too bulky and buggy.

Now I used folded up envelopes (used reply envelopes from junk mail) on which I place various to-do lists, notes I write down in antique and book stores (to check on later), and other important addresses and phone numbers. Its pretty low tech.

I have to admire Gideon Strauss' hPDA (pictures) which is very elegant. I wonder a little about portability (does it fit in a pocket?). I really like it.

In his post he also mentions the Molskine which is the coolest notebook/pad ever.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
When I was an undergraduate student hanging out with art majors, we used to joke about "abstract" art. We imagined the following imaginary conversation...

"Do you make abstract art?"

"Yeah, of course I do. If my art wasn't abstract, it would be real life."

I have always preferred the term "non-representational" rather than "abstract" to talk about art which does not depict/represent some aspect of the real (or imaginary) world.

Anyway, take a look at this review of Kirk Varnadoe's Pictures about Nothing from Books & Culture. Some "non=representational" artists that I like include

Agnes Martin

Richard Diebenkorn (esp Ocean Park series)

Sean Scully

Monday, November 27, 2006
Worth a Look
My pastor just gave a heads up on this address by George Marsden given at Grove City College.

Marsden argues for the necessity of scholars within the Christian community. But he seems to argue that we need scholars to support the other ministries of the church which are more important. He seems to fail to see how scholarship has instrinsic worth entirely by itself as part of the cultural mandate.

Pretty disappointing.

Friday, November 24, 2006
Charm without the Sauce
Lauren Winner sings the praises of art of Grandma Moses in Books & Culture, which interestingly enough, has a Thanksgiving angle:

The art and the artist also embodied a certain kind of femininity that seemed under threat during wartime. When Grandma Moses appeared at Gimbels' Thanksgiving Forum, the department store advertised her appearance with this declaration: "She's more than a great American artist. She's a great American housewife. The sort of American housewife who has kept the tradition of Thanksgiving alive. Fussing with cranberry sauce may seem a bit useless in these turbulent times. It's not. A woman … can fight to make the world a pleasanter place by perfecting her cranberries." Women, in other words, didn't need to become Rosie the Riveter to support the triumph of democracy over fascism. They could serve the cause of freedom simply by turning out a tasty cranberry sauce.

I saw an exhibit of Grandma Moses' work at the Portland Art Museum several years ago. I tried really hard to like her stuff. I can't tell you how utterly unimpressed I was (as was my entire family). She was an keen observer of the details of country life. But as an artist she was incredibly poor. All charm but no depth.

I can't help wondering if the art world would make such a fuss if she was only 30 when the painted her stuff...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
What Organization Starts with the Letter M
has five letters and ends with an A?

Clue: The Italian government has been acting just like them is its blackmailing, shoot-in-the-back-of-the-head policies toward US art museums including the Getty Museum.

If the art is Truly stolen, fine. Return it.

But if its not clear, stop the threats of "cultural embargoes" and the like.

I would love to see all the major US museums band together and issue their own "cultural embargo" to retaliate this bullying. This would be real Culture War!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Artistic Nicodemites?
Reading this article in Books & Culture about the musician Sufjan Stevens has me thinking. Is it wrong for an artist to hide his faith?

An excerpt:

As critical acclaim has mounted, though, he's become much more evasive when questioned about his faith. He routinely brushes aside the matter of his personal beliefs, strategically separating himself from the weird world of contemporary Christian music. He has a "knee-jerk reaction to that kind of [Christian] culture," he quipped in one interview. "Maybe I'm a little more empathetic … because we have similar fundamental beliefs. But culturally and aesthetically, some of it is really embarrassing." More bluntly, he has said, "I don't make faith-themed music."

This approach reminded me of a group of underground Protestants during the Reformation who were often called Nicodemites:

The term "Nicodemites" was applied to pseudo-Protestants who hid their convictions by attending the Mass and other Romish ordinances of worship. These secret Protestants lived in popish lands, and feared that an open declaration of their faith would bring persecution, or result in a loss of their possessions and social status. Some had appealed to the example of Nicodemus (who came to Jesus by night), as a pretext for keeping their views secret, even to the point of pretending to be Romanists in their outward deportment. Calvin rebuked the Nicodemites, by showing that the scriptures require believers to remain undefiled by idolatry (such as the popish Mass).

What do you think of Steven's approach? Should he be more up front about his faith? Or is better to pull those outside the covenant community in to hear what what have to say?

Thursday, November 16, 2006
Art and Authenticity
This fairly brief article on authenticating art cought my eye. (Its partially related to the found "Pollock" that I blogged about last week.

On a related note: it makes me wonder about artists (many in my home town) who sell signed color reproductions (color photocopies or giclee prints) of their original paintings. This tends to rub me the wrong way. Does this tend to somehow undermine the meaning and value of art? Is it really no different (though on a much smaller scale) than what Thomas Kinkade does with his works? Or does this practice make it easier for people with limited means to enjoy art at a modest price?

What do y'all think?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Plowing Makes an Appearance
on Mr. Wilson's Bookshelf.

(and its not the Mr. Wilson that you might think.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Nice Quote

God gave his followers a cultural command as well as a missionary command. We should not set these up as rivals. To relinquish our presence in any cultural area only weakens the Christian voice in our culture as a whole and makes evangelism all the more difficult. Our attitude toward the arts says something about the God we proclaim, and I fear that we often send the wrong signal to our culture.

--Leland Ryken

Monday, November 13, 2006
Food for Thought
On the way home from downtown Portland Saturday, I heard this on the radio - part of a KFC commercial:

"Food can be culture too."

So I guess the question is, how do you want your culture: Original, Extra Crispy, or Hot & Spicy?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Historic Perspective on Culture

I would be asleep and at rest
with kings and counselors of the earth,
who built for themselves places now lying in ruins...

--Job (3:13-14)

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings

--Isaiah 58:12

Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Did you Hear about
the truck driver that, like, maybe bought a Jackson Pollock for $5?

Maybe, maybe not...

Update: New York Times article. (Talk about 15 minutes of fame!)

Monday, November 06, 2006
Rembrandt in St Louis
I know that several readers of this Blog live in or near St. Louis. If you are there, you should check out the Rembrandt print exhibition at the Art Museum. (Museum site & Article)

Thursday, November 02, 2006
A Kindness
"Zondervan scraps Inspirio gifts line"

The world will be free of a few more worthless "Christian" trinkets.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Celebrating Craft
I came across this site of beautifully crafted furniture designed by a Seattle architect. Worth a look.