Today I took some of my own advice and visited a museum on my day off. I have decided to make art museums a sacred space. So, that is where I went to listen to the divine. The National Gallery is having an exhibit of Jasper Johns from 1955-65. I figured that he was worthy of some adoration (except that they have left out 42 years of his subsequent art).
While I was aimlessly wandering through the rooms of 13th through 15th century Christian art I came upon a painting that truly startled me. It was the third of four connected pictures by Benvenuto di Giovanni. The title of this shocking picture was “Jesus in Limbo.” Something about it gripped me and would not let me go. In it doors have been broken off their hinges and Christ is about to climb down into a rocky cave. Elderly men with long beards are taking him by the hand. Rows of men and women stare out of the cave at Jesus in anticipation. Christ is standing on one of the doors and it is crushing a naked man with elongated fingers. Christ is entering Sheol (death).
Everyplace that I have ever lived I have had pieces of art which have functioned as a bridge between me and something greater than myself. These are works that I return to over and over again pondering their brush strokes, message and the feelings that they incite within me. Ivan Albright’s “That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door),” Xmeah ShaEla’ReEl’s fantastic paintings, Jorges Borges’ woodblock prints, Andy Warhol’s “Myths, Mickey Mouse,” Thad Morgan’s “Bunk Johnson,” and Georgia O’Keeffe’s “New York, Night” have provided me with many hours of deep contemplation. So, I am excited to find another work that captures me and shakes me out of the repitition that life can become. I am glad that there are those with the vision to create things of such great wonder! What an unexpected blessing.
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