Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Studio's First Day

Well, I opened the studio and I invited people into the gallery space. I have to admit that I was sheepish saying things like, "I just moved in. I'm not quite set up," or "I'm a new painter." I was self-dismissive because it is unsettling to have someone evaluate your creations. Then I began to enjoy the people who were visiting.

I had a fairly extensive conversation with a couple from France who were visiting the city. Then a family from Italy came by for a viewing, then a charming older woman from Switzerland stopped. ya ya. Next, some Germans walked through and they said they were visiting their college-aged son. One couple from New York chatted and asked, "Why are there few people here?" I explained that the outdoor SoWa Markets closed in October and the foot traffic slows in the winter. They said, "We came up from New York to see it." I met two other families from New York who came to Boston for a holiday to escape the big City. It was fascinating to discover who was visiting.

I share the space with a studio mate who does abstract work. Several people gravitated to her work, but I also notice that many people lingered at mine. This is not a comparison because the work cannot be compared, but it at least gave me confidence to know that my work is appreciated and admired.

A teenage girl popped in and said, "I like your paintings. I like that one, that one, that one, that one, and that one, but this is my favorite." I said, "Thank you." She replied, "My sister likes museums, but I like art galleries. The people are real in the studios and you get to talk with the artists. You can't talk with anyone in the museums."

After half an hour, the girl came back with her family and said, "Of all the paintings in this studio, I had to come back and look at my favorite one." That warmed my heart.

In the nearly two hours that I spent in the gallery, 46 people stopped by for a visit. I can't wait until First Friday.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Dream Come True

To my great delight, I just opened an art studio this weekend in Boston’s South End at 450 Harrison Avenue, Studio 201. I share the space with an abstract artist, whom I met at a MassArt painting class.

Here is the link to the site: https://www.sowaboston.com/

The artists have been hosting event on First Fridays, and we have been trying to build the “Second Sundays” as an event as well. This Sunday is a “Second Sunday” and it is a long weekend to celebrate Veterans.

I am still in the process of setting up the studio, but I am delighted for the opportunity to paint in an energizing space with a community of very kind artists. I hope to you have a chance to visit sometime.

I had three visitors my first day and the studio wasn't even open. It was fun, but also unsettling. All of a sudden, I begin to wonder, "Am I good enough? Will anyone buy anything? Why am I here with all these accomplished trained artists?? 

Then I thought, "This studio is not a measure of what I have done; it is the promise of what I will do. The goal for me is to enjoy the process of creating through paint and to work on programs that will help people pray better." Then my self-doubt subsided. 

Last night, I put the first brush of fresh paint onto my canvass and I was hooked. This is nice.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

My Artist Statement

My name is Jack and I like to paint. I like to be called John too. I like colors, especially orange and blue. I like long shadows and dark values. I like bright colors, pencils, paints, chunks, snow, water, dogs, even cats, my Dutch heritage, family, friends, food, my Italian heritage, chocolate cake, torrone, pizzelles,  frost, a warm breezes, praying, the smell of roasting coffee, reflecting, textured surfaces, choral singing, biking, hiking, camping, listening, cooking, baking, spices, crumpets, cheeses, fresh vegetables, poetry, fashionable hats, shadows, writing, blogging, blowing bubbles, writing poems, cutting grass all day, pushing snow, crunching fall leaves, frolicking in it too, creating most anything, moonlight, stars, dawn, dusk, the setting sun, clouds, the rising sun, praying, and everything in between, glitter, laughter, piano, trumpets, small birds, sleeping, waking, the sound of the ocean, holidays, walking, tropical fruit, oranges, dark chocolate, flying, music, kayaking, photographing, diving boards, a good pencil sharpener, a smooth pen, painting, teaching, learning, helping, listening, boating, contemplating, getting older, sledding, the boardwalk, the beach, the seasons, snow, mountains, deep forests, clowning, museums, herbs, antiques, gardens, sending cards, elbow room, the quiet, silence, meditation, jigsaw puzzles, monasteries, traveling, seeing new things, seeing things news, floating, tools, stretching, gazing, trees, tumbling leaves, rocks, fireplaces, decorating, making you laugh, stained-glass windows, holding your attention, creating wonder, old dictionaries, losing oneself in a book, rain, warmth, my stole, a very large swing attached to an even larger tree, a deep breath, an even deeper breath, a long sustained breath.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Jury Duty; Religious Life

As some of you know, I am serving on a jury trial in Boston this week. The trial will continue next week and possibly even longer. To my dismay, I was called when I was to be on vacation so for the third year in a row, I will not get a break that I need.

I’m also not in a position to preside at two funerals this week. One funeral is for a colleague’s mother and the other is for a childhood friend’s husband. I watch him die last night as he labored to breathe. I kept seeing Christ suspended on the cross unable to gasp for air. Fortunately, for my friend, palliative medicine helped him become comfortable.

I am instructed not to discuss the trial in any way, but I will provide some reflections on the process.

The Call

First of all, I was surprised to be called to jury service. This was my first time ever receiving notice of jury duty. I had been told I would never be called as a priest and I made sure that I spoke about being a Roman Catholic Religious Order priest. Still, prosecution and defense accepted me.

I will write further on the entire process because it is astounding and awe-inspiring.

Nevertheless, I was stunned when I heard that I was accepted. I really was disbelieving. We did hear about the case before we were interviewed as potential jurors and I was relieved because I realized I would not be called. I was wrong.

The Role of the Judge

The judge’s role is fascinating. He is the law. It is his or her job to maintain a respectful, pleasant atmosphere. His job is not to judge the case. His job is to apply the law. The prosecutor has the entire burden to prove the State’s case beyond reasonable doubt, and the defense’s case is easier because the defendant is declared innocent until the jury may decide otherwise.

The Jury is the Judge

The jury’s role is to be fair and impartial and to listen to the two sides of the argument. The jury is to be convinced of the prosecutor’s facts or not be convinced. When it comes time to deliberate, four of the sixteen jurors will be randomly dismissed. Certain points of law will be applied, and the jury will be given instructions.

The function of the jury is not to do research, seek, search for the truth. It is not necessarily to assess guilt. It is to determine if the prosecutor’s proved the case beyond reasonable doubt. The jury is instructed to not include hearsay; we have to suspend our desire to draw conclusions or do additional research. Our job is to hear the case.

A Hearing

The trial is called a hearing because this is the primary role of the jury. The jury does not ask questions or interact with anyone. The jury maintains confidentiality throughout the whole process. We do not talk with each other, except about the weather, break times, or looking forward to the weekend. The jury’s job is merely “to hear” until it is time to deliberate.

Jury Selection

In many ways, jury selection is like discipleship. We are called. We don’t know why. We don’t know why the person next to us was called. We sometimes cannot see any similarities or draw conclusions about the type of persons that we selected. The selection is a mystery.

It is just like religious life. Sometimes we wonder why a certain person was selected. We come from so many diverse backgrounds and yet Christ calls us to the same way of life. Somehow it works.

Equality and Dignity

Every juror has the same dignity. No hierarchy exists. If someone is repeatedly late to service, no one can ask why, and no one can ask that someone try harder to arrive on time. Service depends upon the goodwill of people to honor and respect each other and the common good. We are equal. We take the role seriously. We know it is our honored constitutional civic duty.

Good Table Manners

Just as, in a very basic sense, the Catholic mass is a set of good table manners, the courtroom has a particular set of table manners that is upheld. The presider is respected by the court. Everyone rises when the judge enters or exits the courtroom. Prosecuting and defense attorneys have a particular decorum in the court, always asking permission of the judge to perform certain tasks, such as, “May I approach the witness?,” “May I show the jury this evidence?,” “May I enter this as evidence?” Objections are done according to the discretion of the judge. Good manners are a necessity. It is always kind to use good manners.

As the jury is the judge, the entire courtroom rises when the jurors exit or enter the courtroom. You never see this on television or in the movies.

Biblical Role of the Courtroom

I keep seeing parallels between the Old Testament imagery of legal proceedings and today’s courtroom. God, the just judge, presides over the dispute, and Satan is the adversarial prosecutor that is trying to trip up plaintiff. God is also the jury. Christ, the Advocate, is the defense witness, who declares his defendant’s innocence. This imagery begins with the Book of Job, throughout Hebrew Scripture and Wisdom literature, right up through the Gospel accounts. Christ’s representation will see us through the trial and he has won us eternal life.

The Law versus Mercy

While the legal system has the duty to apply the law and be judged by it, God’s judgment is mercy. Mercy always wins out. It is the defining aspect of Christian life, which is a reason it needs to be given ascendancy. Christians work within the law, but the law of Christ has its primacy. We are freed from the law so we can promote works of mercy.

Onto the Next Week

Monday, September 3, 2018

Changes on Morrissey Boulevard

On Sunday night, I walked by the new UMass Boston dormitories. They appear to be a well-constructed, contemporary set of buildings, and it is terrific to see the Columbia Point area have neighbors. Almost overnight, the character of this part of Dorchester has changed. One thousand and seventy-seven students have been added to the area and they will create a new type of energy. The campus is looking beautiful and I'm sure these students will spend many hours walking the nearby Boulevard that fronts the Atlantic Ocean.

Parents dropped off their children with both pride and concern. It is a big step for many parents who are sending many first-generation students to college. Many students stood in the landing of their floor and waved goodbye to their parents as they left them to get settled before classes begin.

The dormitories complement the work that is done on the boulevard making it a long string of housing from the JFK MBTA stop to the ocean. The land borders what used to be called Columbia Point, but is now called Harborview Apartments, which is a mixed-residential development area. While Columbia Point used to be fenced off, it is now open to the UMass area providing an exchange of pedestrian access.

It leads up to the Ted Kennedy Institute and the JFK Library, plus the new parking area for the Commonwealth Museum, which is a must-see museum because it contains a Massachusetts copy of the U.S. Constitution, plus other foundational documents, and a brief history of rotation topics.

The JFK Library was hopping last night for a wedding that forms a romantic setting overlooking the ocean.

Nearby is a great parcel of land that is soon to be developed. One can sense that it is going to be a large-scaled residential, commercial, and retail development. The Point will not know what hit them.

Across the way from BC High is the former Boston Globe that is being gutted and retrofitted for new light industrial workspace and restaurants. Work is fairly constant, as is change. Each day the area is looking more desirable, and what energy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Appreciation for Public Transportation

For the past two weeks, I've had to take the subway system into Boston each morning and home during the late afternoon. I am impressed. During rush hour, I've been able to board a train within three to five minutes of my arrival. The trains are standing room only and the passengers are accommodating. The ride along the Red Line for six stops has been efficient and smooth.

The ride home has been equally smooth and efficient. Even in the midst of hot, humid weather, the trains are well air-conditioned and on-time. The city moves people well and the transit system is well-used. A diversity of people ride the subways trains, which are reliable. I am edified to know how well the city works to move people efficiently. Questions remain about how much more growth it can handle, but for the time being, I give the city high marks.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Good Morning

The other day, I boarded Boston's MBTA Red line on my way into the city. The woman announcer starts to speak on the Public Address System. She says something like this:

"Good morning, friends. I hope you are having a good day. It is quite a good day and I wish you blessings, peace, and much happiness. I hope good things come your way today and that you are able to turn to your neighbor and wish them a good morning as well."

People giggled and shook their heads, not in disgust, but in disbelief.

"She continued. We are neighbors and it is always better when we see each other as fellow travelers that we can wish well. Enjoy your day, and greet your neighbor."

She signed off and people laughed. They turned to their neighbors to check their expression and within seconds everyone was talking with each other and laughing.