Follow up: JBU Gallery St. Francis benefit

This is in response to Timothy Jones’ articulate comment on my 7 February post JBU Gallery: Auction for St. Francis

Tim, thank you for taking the time to read my posts. While I know I have “x” number of visitors a day, I fear few spend the time I wish they would thinking about the topics presented here — although there is not much I can do to know this for certain

It’s difficult to write with the brevity required by the blogosphere (and by my own schedule) without occasionally making inadvertent generalizations. One thing I do hope, however, is that I never come across as something I’m not. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Nor do I even pretend, in our human sphere, all answers to such questions can be known. So many things are, admittedly subjective in the realm of taste. I stated this in my brief review of the St. Francis benefit.

Jones’ comments are in bold.

Also, I see you struggle with the meaning of art, as we all do.

I’m more interested in the peach than in my thoughts about the peach. I’m trying to pass something along, rather than conjure anything.

    I actually find myself going more and more in this direction as well. I fear I have over thought much of my recent attempts at creating. For me, though, it’s less about being interested in an object than in the materials (“process over product” describes my work in a lot of ways, a phrase I first heard attributed to Leonardo da Vinci).

As regards my own work (which I hope you could stand to look at without too much cynical surprise) . . .

    Looking through your paintings, it seems to me your landscapes (which is what I would have seen at the JBU gallery) are weaker than your still life and portaiture. I personally found painting still life excrutiatingly boring when I was subjected to it in college, but by no means do I look down on people who do this well. That said, I’m smitten with your “Bleu Cheese and Beer”

    as well as “Rum & Fruit (Ode to Jack Sparrow).” They are very well done and I would, without hesitation, hang them in my own dining room (could I afford originals!).

I was recently involved with a church building committee. It is a demoralizing job for an artist.

    And yet, visually inclined people (“artists”) are who I hope church leadership seeks out for such tasks, in part. Is that not common sense and good stewardship of gifts in the Body?

An observer may think this requires little imagination, but this is not the case. None of my paintings really approach mere recording or photo-realism. All that said, I am just learning to paint.

    I wish I could quantify Betty Spackman’s terminology “a horrendous deficiency of imagination” as used in her recent book A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch (which I really, really need to get for myself). I (and others I know) truly sense this lacking in the Christian community.

Again, I don’t pretend to understand all of the connotation and implication in the word and idea of imagination. I do know, however, this sense of deficiency — which I’ve felt, unexplained, for some years — is present. I also know that the number of influential artists of the Christian faith lagged sorely in the 20th century. This trend seems to be rectifying itselfslowly.

Jones is part of a group of Christian artists in Northwest Arkansas who gather monthly to talk about art. More such groups are needed to facilitate a rebirth of artistic ideals in modern evangelical churches.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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