Thursday, November 25, 2010

Charles Burchfield Show at The Whitney

The New Yorker has a great article about Charles Burchfield. It memorably describes him as a "one man movement." His art has something of the lonely quality of his friend, Hopper (and maybe Wyeth?), but there is a psychological, tortured side to it, which the article describes as not so much a commentary on the small towns where he lived and worked, but rather on on his own interior struggle with gloom and spiritual unease.

One of my art professors compared a lot of my early work to that of Burchfield's. Not knowing who he was at the time, I looked him up and saw the similarity, though I think now my art looks rather different from his (not completely, but still different enough). But since that first comparison however I have always been interested in this great 20th century American master.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Moving Blues

My family is moving to Maryland in a few weeks so I can serve as rector of a parish there. Moving is always traumatic for the artist. 1) There is always gobs of stuff to move. Artists tend to collect more 'junk' than your average folk... pictures, props, supplies, etc. not to mention his own work, so moving always presents a major challenge. 2) Losing a studio space (especially a nice one like I have) is very sad, because the artist gets used to his environment and to some extent it plays an important role in the creation of his work. It takes me months to acclimate to a new studio, which is quite disruptive to the artistic process. 3) While packing the artist cannot work on art or anything else very easily; packing takes up all of your time and energy. So this move, like all of them before, will be an artistic nightmare at least for the short term.

But the bright side of it is that besides being closer to family and old friends we will be living in a major metropolitan area. There will be world class museums within easy driving distance, and lots of creative stimulus. Country life is nice in moderation, but at this stage in my life I am more interested in the conveniences and excitement of the city and the suburbs.

Still, I will always remember my time here in Virginia and in this church and this gorgeous country setting with fondness and nostalgia. I thanks God for this time and for all of His blessings while here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moving to Maryland and Crisis of Vocations

In December the family will be packing up and moving to Maryland where I will serve as rector of St. Alban's in Joppa, MD. As I am from that area, and was ordained in that parish, it is something of a homecoming. It goes without saying that I will miss everyone at my current parish of St. Francis in Virginia.

Every time a priest moves to a new parish in our church it sets off a chain reaction, where the bishop has to scramble to find a man to fill the position that is opening up. In as small a church as ours his options are limited, whereas we do not have enough priests, and whereas those who are available may not have the desire or ability to move out of state, etc. I was lucky at St. Francis because I brought in a priest from an outside jurisdiction to help out, and he was later received into our diocese, and he will be taking over for me, but he was literally the only man in the region available to take over as priest-in-charge. The parish probably would have liked a choice of who the new incumbent would be (who wouldn't?) but the reality of the situation is that there was no one else available. Other clergy and parishes are not even that fortunate.

This is why we need more men - especially young men - to commit themselves to serve as priests. Without vocations the church will die. Yet many men do not see serving as a priest - especially in continuing Anglican jurisdictions - as a viable career option because we are so small, have so few options, churches, etc. Young men want to give their lives to something that is organized, focused, thought-out, and has a plan for the future... and that has a future. Yet these qualities are what is often lacking in our churches. I am not even sure if our churches have an overall plan or strategy to attract young men to the ministry... I never hear anything about it at the few meetings we go to, or reports that are sent out. Inasmuch as we do not have a seminary - or even a dream or plan for one, and inasmuch as we have only the vaguest guidelines for preparing for Holy Orders, I can only assume that this is a very low priority for our churches.... and yet this is one thing that the church depends on to survive, and more important to fulfill her vocation to be the sacrament of salvation.