Sunday, September 18, 2011
ninety-seventh visit: Sept 28th 2011 Anglican and Epsicopal affiliated
Annual Blessing of the Artists
328 Sixth Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15222
downtown, central business district
For ease in understanding, I'll copy a few phrases from Father Paul Johnston's email announcing this event, the Annual Blessing of the Artists: "For blessing, bring some tool of your trade—a reed, mouthpiece, paintbrush, whisk, mallet, bow, baton, mute, that script or piece of music with the scariest challenge..."
As you may know, part of the reason I am doing this project is that more often than not, there exists a tension between those who make art and those who practice religion. There are, of course, exceptions: Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, and yes! one still living: Anselm Kiefer. A list of my personal friends and acquaintances who do both in full, cashes in at four. And presumably (or to varying degrees) add to this, the seventeen or so in the sanctuary with me tonight. For once, perhaps the only time during this project, I don't feel like a complete outsider. Knowing that this is a service open to artists of all faiths, knowing there may be many of us who are not members.
Introductions around chapel: many musicians. visual artists. A writer, if I'm remembering correctly. Father Paul is a musician, music history scholar and professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Homily: The spirit as creator. And a delegator of this duty of creation. Father Paul talks about Picasso's Guernica for a bit. It is our job to create art that tells the truth, no matter how ugly it is. To make art that creates change.
Something I did not mention: I had entered during the first hymn. (The only hymn on the evening's agenda.) I thought I was in the wrong place on the wrong day. Literally. I thought I was walking in on a choir practice. An AMAZING choir practice, full of professional singers who had been making noise together for years. One of the artist-congregants asks if we could please sing one more hymn because the first sounded so amazing. So we do. I can't help but to say that I believe that any other congregation would have obediently followed the bulletin, without questioning, never proposing an instinctual change.
Time for the blessing. The officiator, Reverend Cathy speaks the blessing's words while sprinkling holy water on violin cases, sheet music, a box of pastels, my inking pen.
Mentioned during the service: There were calls to the church from those who wished to come but could not because tonight is also the first night of Rosh Hashanah. (Explanation and apologies offered by the Priests.) Comments from a congregant that the ideas concerning creation in the homily are reflective of the Jewish New Year's traditional meaning. ...Und das kommt morgen.