How Music Works


An amazing series of videos from BBC 4 grouped together by Maria Popova  at Brain Pickings >>>.

I could hardly imagine life without music, it would be flat, lifeless almost. But how well do we understand music, why it does what it does and the other way around.

How well do we understand its emotional hold on our brains?How Music Works, a fascinating program from BBC4 (the same folks who brought us The End of God?: A Horizon Guide to Science and Religion), explores just that.

Composer Howard Goodall takes us on a journey into music’s underbelly, examining the four basic elements that make it work: Melody, rhythm, harmony and bass.

Go check it out here >>> sit back and relax, and learn more about music in this fantastic series of videos.

Photo Journal: Blown Away by Ron Mueck Sculptures


From 2 October to 23 January the Christchurch Art Gallery has an exhibition of the works of Ron Mueck, an Australian born, London based artist sculptor. The exhibition is claimed to be the largest to have been presented in the southern hemisphere. (More information can be found on the site of the Art Gallery).

For those who’d like to learn more about the artist, it is best to refer to the wikipedia page of Ron Mueck, which gives you a good starting point. My youngest son an I were all curious and did not know what to expect. We were both blown away and I had a hard time having the youngest one not to touch the sculptures so as to verify whether the hair was real or not.

His sculptures could be typified as super-realistic, and because of the way he uses size and detail they truly seem to have an impact.

And a closer up view should give you an indication of the enormous amount of detail.

It was similar with this pregnant woman.

Initially you are drawn to the face which looks tired, and once you start looking down yo realize that you are dealing with a giant pregnant woman, or as my youngest son’d call it a giant “nudy dudy rudy lady with a baby in her tummy.” Amazing shapes and lines that made me realize again how special a pregnant woman really is.

Also hard to be missed was this enormous sculpture of a wild man.

The facial expression is just amazing.

And no it is not the nudity. I was particularly struck with the following two smaller sculptures and the sense of isolation they seem to express.

More photos of the exhibition can be found on flickr here>>> but my suggestion would be to go and see it for yourself. It is definitely worth it.

On youtube I found the movies that are also shown in the context of the exhibition and give you an idea of the artist and his work.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYX_jV-lAfk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTy5cORM3CI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh3SBzY658w

I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on Ron Mueck’s work.

Serving through Art


The connection between arts and religion has been strong throughout the centuries.  For some reason however and perhaps with the exception  of music this relationship seems to have been valued less valuable or important in the twentieth century. In this article I will explore some options where it comes to servant based creativity. Which brings us to the question: how can artists benefit their churches and is there a need to consider the possibility of a community based approach involving the local churches?

In this post I use “art” as meaning visual arts, music, dance, writing, poetry and whatever else you can think off.

Where it comes to music I think it has by now well integrated into many ministries, but that is just one of the many possibilities. Also art may well serve as a means of ministry, of means to “bring others back home.”  Just look throughout history and it is hard to deny that there are many great works of art, music, literature, dance and even cooking that have been inspired by God. I only have to look at my personal conversion history to realize that Christian music has been a factor to keep my interest besides others, and ultimately a very important factor in “bringing me back home.” Art has this innate possibility to show us different sometimes less obvious aspects of reality, it has this power to touch us deep within. With this in mind I could imagine art being used even as a form of evangelism.

Think Local

Consider being a mentor or teacher without having an eye on the elite of the discipline or congregates. Would it not be great to be seen without the hype and marketing of industry “gatekeepers” and make art, music, writing something that is accessible for each and everyone, either to enjoy as a spectator or an actual creative. It is exactly the hype and dramatization that end up seeing the artists removed from its own community of support often for the sake of pursuing the big bucks. Consider the local community as a first focus and any successes as a local attractor. All of this without giving up any big, international aspirations (art as evangelism).

Serve Instead of Being Served

I may well misunderstand things but as far as I can see it the desire of a Christian artist looking to serve though art is not to be a star, but to serve God. Regardless of any achievements in terms of status inside and outside your community: any achievements were God’s plan for you and not your own great things. Your talents were God-given and so are any achievements based upon these talents. Therefore it makes sense to stay faithful to your local community and effectively and efficiently serve them as one way to ensure that you are effectively serving ‘the body of Christ.’

Be a Servant

Paul instructs us to do our work ‘heartily unto the Lord.’ In the context of this post that means that your art, craft, music dance, writing or handiwork is an offering of worship to God, whose image we bear: YOU CREATE BECAUSE HE DID (the imago Dei). The motive or motivation comes not from a pursue for fame but from gratitude an to be who He wants you to be to the best of your talents, you work for the glory of God as opposed to your own. Since it is part of your calling to entertain and since you are most likely already part of a church – the body of Christ – it is makes sense to connect with people locally (besides the other endeavors).

In this all there is no room for elitist mentality. Let’s by all means not lose sight of  the fact that we are given our gifts by God to serve His people. So does it not make sense than – in order to create a niche for your gifts – that you be a servant to your congregation or community with your specific talents? We can exercise all our God given creativity to make our work and skills available to our congregation or communities without compromising our dedication to excellence.

Be Creative

Often times, with the exception of music, pastors and leaders do not have a clear view on where to fit in the possibilities of an artist. At the same time, and bringing it back to the artist: we are creative people and therefore it is up to the artists to look at trying to find ways in which to integrate our arts and crafts into the lives of our fellows. Therefore we will have to look for ways in which our art can truly support our ministries, while at the same time providing an opportunity for discipleship, fellowship and community and encouragement meeting both material and spiritual needs.  Would it nit be just fantastic is we’d be using our creative gifts for the blessing of others and through that the glory of God. So, it is not just about the big events, but also for instance the personal band to small group or even family type of setting, in which praise and encouragement are the leading factors: a direct involvement which cannot be replaced by any other experience.

Be a Mentor

Use your skills to sharpen the skills of others and through that your own. Christian mentoring in this setting is more than just teaching. It is discipleship: a relation in which artistic skills are part of the equation next to a Christian worldview. You may well think that your success comes from creating that one thing that you my well never achieve. In actual fact your real achievement may well end up to be in how you reached or influenced others to get the best out of themselves. Our creativity and art gives us an opportunity to invest our lives in that of others.
Therefore, any elitist mentality should be banned: ELITISM ALIENTATES.

Serving God Through Art

If there is anything that is clear than it is probably that there are a lot of creative people associated with Harmony Church. I felt I needed to do something with that given. So I ended up looking around to find that there is room for an artists’ organisation within the context of Christian life and ministry.

Historically there appears to be a rise of the influence of the Gospel and with that a rise of its influence in the arts. This connection has been strong throughout the centuries but for some reason seem seems to have been valued less valuable or important in the twentieth century. Where there was and is attention for it more than once is turns out to be market driven “copy-catting” or avant-garde elitism. TRULY SERVANT BASED CREATIVITY appears to be a RARE OCCASION.

An initial hurdle appears to be posed by having arts seen as an actual profession. The concept of being a professional artist does not seem to come natural to everyone. Admittedly it is somewhat easier nowadays when you are into music or design, but how many of us know at least someone that got told “what about you try to get a real job” or “how about you first learn to do something useful.” In addition to this we all know probably one example of someone making it known to his pastor or reverend that he is an artist to be told that “the choir can always use more singers.” In that sense the church more than once appears to be a reflection of the material world, in which there is not always a place for the artist (other than music).

The life story of Van Gogh, one of my favourite Dutch artists is probably highly illustrative. Van Gogh was initially trained to be part of the Dutch pastorate. However, he found out early that he was not so-called “pastor material” or a “leader.” That is in the more traditional sense of the word. At the same time however he longer deeply to serve with his gifts, it was just that the church had no place for him. Instead of accepting him and welcoming someone with such unique abilities and talents, he was cast aside and now, looking back, see what the church has lost with that.

Which brings us to the question: how can artists benefit their churches and is there a need to consider the possibility of a community based approach involving the local churches.

Think Local

Consider being a mentor or teacher without having an eye on the elite of the discipline or congregates. Would it not be great to be seen without the hype and marketing of industry “gatekeepers” and make art something that is accessible for each and everyone, either to enjoy as a spectator or an actual creative. It is exactly the hype and dramatization that end up seeing the artists removed from its own community of support often for the sake of pursuing the big bucks.

Consider the local community as your first focus and any successes as a local attractor.

Serve Instead of Being Served

I may well misunderstand things but as far as I can see it the desire of a Christian artist looking to serve though art is not to be a star, but to serve. Regardless of any achievements in terms of status inside and outside your community, it is important to remember that those achievements were God’s plan for you and not your own great things. Your talents were God-given and so are any achievements based upon these talents. Therefore it makes sense to stay faithful to this local community and effectively and efficiently serve them as one way to ensure that you are effectively serving the body of Christ.

Famous examples are easy to find as to how this works out. Consider Bach or Rembrandt. Hey did their thing and shined there where God had planted them. Their real fame was not in their lifetimes but after they died.

Be a Servant

Paul exhorts us to do our work heartily unto the Lord. In the context of this file note that means that your art, craft or handiwork is an offering of worship to God, whose image we bear. YOU CREATE BECAUSE HE DID (the imago Dei). The motive or motivation comes not from a pursue for fame but from the glory of God. Since it is part of your calling to entertain, it is important that you connect with people locally.

In this all there is no room for elitist mentality, to make us lose sight for the fact that we are given our gifts by God to serve His people. So does it not make sense than – in order to create a niche for your gifts – that you be a servant to your congregation or community with your specific talents? In all this we need to exercise all our God given creativity to make our work available to our congregation or communities without compromising our dedication to excellence.

Be Creative

Often times, with the exception of music, pastors and leaders do not have a clear view on where to fit in the possibilities of an artist. At the same time, and bringing it back to the artist: we are creative people and therefore it is up to the artists to look at trying to find ways in which to integrate our arts and crafts into the lives of our fellows. Therefore we will have to look for ways in which our art can truly support our ministries, while at the same time providing an opportunity for fellowship and community and encouragement meeting both material and spiritual needs.

We need to be using our gifts for the blessing of others and through that the glory of God.

So, it is not just about the big events, but also the personal band to small group or even family type of setting, in which praise and encouragement are the leading factors: a direct involvement which cannot be replaced by any other experience.

Be a Mentor

Use your skills to sharpen the skills of others and through that your own. Christian mentoring in this setting is more than just teaching: it is discipleship: a relation in which artistic skills are part of the equation next to a Christian world view.

You may well think that your success comes from creating that one thing that you my well never achieve while in actual fact your real achievement may well lie in how you reached or influenced others t get the best out of themselves.

Our art gives us an opportunity to invest out lives in that of others. Therefore, any elitist mentality should be banned: ELITISM ALIENTATES.

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Chrysalis Seed Trust to close down


It is with sadness that I had to read that the Chrysalis Seed Trust will be closing down its organizational structure and operations as per 1 April this year.

csart

Chrysalis Seed – important announcement

The vision of Chrysalis Seed has been to ‘generate multiplying groups of artists in a subculture centered in Jesus’. This will be continuing even though the structure and operations of Chrysalis Seed as a Trust will finish from 1 April, 2010.

The reasons for this are financial, personal and spiritual. The asset base of the main supporter of the Trust has been severely reduced through the economic crisis. We see this as a sign that God will multiply the work and vision of Chrysalis Seed, without the organisation itself. A grass roots movement will continue to emerge as fresh shoots sprouting out of the stump of the tree that is being cut down. Artists and activists will continue to build on the foundations we have built in the last 14 years.

The following will continue in 2010:

  • eight groups of Christian artists meeting regularly throughout New Zealand.
  • a social network of over 540 artists and supporters. (csartspace.org.nz)
  • an intact and comprehensive library of art and faith materials available nationally to artists and students through Knox College, Dunedin.
  • our personal networking with artists throughout New Zealand (Peter & Jessica Crothall)
  • all published CS Arts magazines available online (we will have an update on in the next e-newsletter)
  • a monthly prayer newsletter for artists, groups and arts institutions
  • csartspace (artists’ social network)

With over 545 national and international members, we are committed to csartspace continuing (where participants in the visual arts meet and chat online, share ideas, news and information). This will either be through another organisation taking it up, or some individuals looking after it on a voluntary basis. Let us know if you have any ideas or offers!

Newsletters

Our next and final e-newsletter will be sent in March and will confirm final arrangements for csartspace and this website. Peter and Jessica Crothall will continue the CS Prayer newsletter.

Should you wish to contact the director Peter Crothall, for more information please send an email to: director@cs.org.nz

ABOUT CST

In 1995, founding directors Peter and Jessica Crothall, received the initial vision for Chrysalis Seed – to generate multiplying artists groups in a subculture centered in Jesus.  The mission was to equip artists to integrate their art and faith and reconcile art and faith communities.  The primary focus of Chrysalis Seed, which was legally constituted in 1998, has always been to encourage and empower contemporary visual and professionally minded artists.

We have explored a range of different ways of outworking this vision including a range of artist groups and collectives, publications, catalogues, a poetry anthology, various newsletters, an arts festival, a libray of art and faith resources, our website and the recently developed online social network www.csartspace.org.nz

Chrysalis Seed has also facilitated seminars, organised an Easter arts festival and produced the poetry anthology With Our Eyes Open.

The mostly widely known service, however, offered by Chrysalis Seed, was the production of the CS Arts magazine between 2001 and 2008 with a national distribution to artists and arts institutions. Copies of the magazine are available on this website under magazine archives CS Arts started out as a two-sided newsletter in 2001, distributed to 200 supporters and artists and grew into the 36-page edition last produced in 2008. With a print run of 12,000, this final edition went out to a mailing list of 6,000.  It was sent to a cross section of individual artists, art schools, high schools, contemporary galleries, and libraries across New Zealand and internationally. Through interviews and articles, CS Arts aimed to showcase what Christian artists and spiritual seekers were doing in the contemporary arts community, as well as reveal how their personal faith impacted their lives and work. Moana Tipa explored the intersection between Maori identity, contemporary art and Christian faith in Aotearoa through a series of interviews commissioned and published between 2005 – 2006.

Key achievements

The team 1999-2010: our team of staff and key contractors, always small and cohesive, grew from a team of two in 1999 to 12 at the height of the production of the magazine in 2008. Volunteers have helped with mailouts and exhibitions, lead artist groups and served on the Trust Board.

Group exhibitions 1998 – 2009: most years we have held a group exhibition at the Centre of Contemporary Art in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Between 1996 and 2009, 18 group exhibitions were held including two at the Peter Rae gallery in Dunedin and one in Nelson in association with The Suter Art Gallery and Auckland artist Allie Eagle.

Website and social network 2007 – 2010: this websiste was carefully designed and re-developed for artists in 2007. It was intended to connect artists and fine arts students with information that could help strengthen their professional arts practice, their faith and the fit between the two.  By February 2010, our new social network csartspace has grown to 540 members. csartspace was started in October 2008. We wanted this tool to be the part of our website that would be driven by artists and be fully interactive for them. This site has huge potential as a way to break isolation for artists of faith online.  It can connect the most isolated artist with information, networks, groups and other artists with similar interests and passions around NZ and beyond.

A national network and new groups: directors Peter and Jessica Crothall undertook networking tours to visit artists, galleries and art schools around New Zealand in 2003, 2005, 2007 and finally in 2009.  As well as increasing the membership and more use of csartspace, the four-month journey of 2009 resulted in seven new groups based in Invercargill, Dunedin, Waikanae, Whangarei, Lower Hutt and New Plymouth. Also in 2009, two regional gatherings of artists happened in Lyall Bay (Wellington) and at Waikanae (Kapiti Coast). Links were strengthened with existing groups in Christchurch, Auckland (St Paul’s Arts and Media) and Wellington.

Global movements and networks: visits to sister organisations and conferences in the UK and USA 2000, 2007 and 2009 reinforced our relational links with a growing global movement of Christian artists that has been evolving for over 30 years. These organisations include: Christians in the Visual arts, International Arts Movement (Mako Fujimora) Artisans (Steve Cole), the Arts Centre Group, Genesis Arts (Nigel Goodwin) and Fuller seminary (William Dyrness).

Other stakeholders in NZ: Otago University Theology department (Murray Rae) and Knox School of ministry (Jason Goronchy), Laidlaw College (Alistair McKenzie and Steve Graham) and the Bishopdale in Nelson (Tim Harris) all are key players in then emerging conversation between theology, leadership training and the arts in New Zealand, and have enthusiastically supported the work of Chrysalis Seed. This is most clearly encapsulated by the major works of leading Christian artists installed in the new campus of Laidlaw College in Condell Ave, Christchurch.

Curating art for worship: Mark Pierson, Mike Riddell, Steve Taylor and Peter Majendie have also been valued supporters, as they have explored creative ways of curating art for worship experiences. Contemporary Stations of the Cross were pioneered by Mark and most dramatically developed by Dave White in the ambitious works installed in the Hamilton Gardens for six years, every Easter between 2004-2009.

Artist’s symposium and exhibition in Dunedin Jan 2008: in January 2008, we worked with Murray Rae to organise an artist’s symposium at Otago University, which attracted about 25 artists from around the South Island and Australia. This was part of the visit to Otago by Scottish Professor Trevor Hart, who took a summer intensive school on Theology and the Arts. The course ended with an exhibition at Salisbury House Gallery showcasing some of the work by artists at this symposium.

Developments in 2010

In February 2010, an extensive collection of art and faith library resources was relocated to Dunedin under the care of Hewitson Library at Knox College, and is available to the public.

By the end of March,Chrysalis Seed offices in The Arts Centre will be vacated; this website downsized and csartspace handed to another entity to manage. Our last staff member, Gisela Kraak completed her 3.5 years with us on 12 February. This marks the end of a decade of staff generated services for artists through Chrysalis Seed.

The vision and work of Chrysalis Seed in New Zealand continues in more organic ways, even with the end of its organisational life and direct services.

via Chrysalis Seed Trust: helping resource contemporary artists.

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Music and Art as Prayer


Going over older notes I found the quotes following below, which are by `Abdu’l-Bahá, who is the leading force of the so called Bahá’í Faith, one of the many areas of previous exploration. For those of you curious about Bahá’í Faith, it is a movement that departs from the premise that throughout history, God revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, whose teachings guide and educate us and provide the basis for the advancement of human society. These Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Their religions come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God. Bahá’u’lláh, of whom the quotes below come, is the considered to be latest of these Messengers, brought new spiritual and social teachings for our time. His essential message is of unity. He taught the oneness of God, the oneness of the human family, and the oneness of religion. Bahá’í Faith was founded more than a century ago. (More about it can be read here >>>)

The art of music must be brought to the highest stage of development, for this is one of the most wonderful arts and in this glorious age of the Lord of Unity it is highly essential to gain its mastery. However, one must endeavour to attain the degree of artistic perfection and not be like those who leave matters unfinished. —
`Abdu’l-Bahá

Rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.
`Abdu’l-Bahá

At the time I could imagine the beauty of the concept but by now, as a Christian it has become more and more of a real  thing for  me. The connection of art, music and faith is not a new one. Throughout history many incredible artists have been associated with Christianity. A visit to most any museum or the Vatican will make it pretty much clear that Christianity has been an incredible inspiration for many (an the same applies by the way for other belief systems). The connection between art, music (and literature) has been strong throughout the centuries but for some reason especially in the case of the visual arts this seems to have been valued less valuable or important in the twentieth century and onwards. Where there was and is attention for it more than once is turns out to be market driven “copy-catting” or avant-garde elitism.

TRULY SERVANT BASED CREATIVITY appears to be a RARE OCCASION.

An initial hurdle appears to be posed by having arts seen as an actual profession. The concept of being a professional artist does not seem to come natural to everyone. Admittedly it is somewhat easier nowadays when you are into music or design, but how many of us know at least someone that got told “what about you try to get a real job” or “how about you first learn to do something useful.” In addition to this we all know probably one example of someone making it known to his pastor or reverend that he is an artist to be told that “the choir can always use more singers.” In that sense the church more than once appears to be a reflection of the material world, in which there is not always a place for the artist (other than music).

The life story of Van Gogh, one of my favourite Dutch artists is probably highly illustrative. Van Gogh was initially trained to be part of the Dutch pastorate. However, he found out early that he was not so-called “pastor material” or a “leader.” That is in the more traditional sense of the word.

At the same time however he longed deeply to serve with his gifts, it was just that the church had no place for him. Instead of accepting him and welcoming someone with such unique abilities and talents, he was cast aside and now, looking back, see what the church has lost with that.

Which brings us to the question: how can artists benefit their churches and is there a need to consider the possibility of a community based approach involving the local churches. That however will be subject of another post I guess, once ideas on that have crystallized out some more.

In this post I would like to concentrate more on the subject of music and art as a form of prayer.

Music and Art as Prayer

When I speak of music or art as an act of prayer, I think of active prayer. I think of an awareness that every act undertaken with a spiritual awareness will lead to a spiritual effect. The art or music becomes the way through which the artist prayer is manifested. It is important to understand that the music or art does not become prayer because of the the subject, symbolism, imagery of a particular creation. When I think of art or music as prayer I think of it as a conscious connection to God. Your studio, practice room, stage become a “temple,” a place of worship in which you are continuously trying to perfect the use of your skills as a way to glorify His name, a way to be taken to where he wants you to be, to BE who He wants you to be, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore you will want to be at the top of your abilities i only to be able to respond as adequately as possible to His calling. Being at the peak of your abilities; is that not a great way to express your gratitude for your God given talent? Is that not a beautiful way to express the love of God, the beauty of His creation? Looking back at a long secular history, I have personally enjoyed noticing the difference, in fact  could probably admit that  the calling was there at all times but I was too busy with my own glory to see or hear his calling and His guidance.

Some of the experiences  associate with the connection:

  • Emotional responses to what I see, hear, play even. A deep sense of connection. The child-like experience is back, that sense of utter amazement of “wow” with what you hear and see.
  • A distorted sense of time or even the complete loss thereof.
  • The disappearance of self-consciousness so often reflected in a fear of failure.
  • Effort, focus, concentration, patience (which used to not be my strongest virtue), endurance, it all seems to come easy.
  • A renewed set of eyes and ears, a renewed type of inspiration that makes it possible to see differently, hear differently and process differently in the musical setting and as far as photography is concerned an eye for things that would go unnoticed before.
  • The separation between music and the musician (me) appears to vanish and at times it is as if the music plays by itself.
  • A deep sense of being in God.

The are challenges of course and I guess he biggest comes from your own ego: the belief that you are working for God instead instead of God working through you. This is where self-consciousness comes in and relating it back to a previous post on payer, this is where you are to busy talking to listen.

Nouwen: Prayer is first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always speaking; he’s always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity. … Prayer in its most basic sense is just entering into an attitude of saying, “Lord, what are you saying to me?”

Foster: The problem with describing prayer as speaking to God is that it implies we are still in control. But in listening, we let go. … The spiritual life is not something we add onto an already busy life. What we are talking about is to impregnate and infiltrate and control what we already do with an attitude of service to God.

Recently I wrote in response to a post on the very subject:

I notice His presence in the emotional responses, enhanced ability to hear and react/respond, loss of sense of time, a complete loss of self-consciousness an fear of failure, an intense feeling of joy/bliss without any personal pride. In short it is fantastic to have Him run the show.

The separation between musician and music seems to completely disappear and the music seems at times to be playing by itself. All I can say it it’s a great place to be.

Referring back to what was said by Nouwen and Foster and relating it back to the subject here it comes down to being quiet yourself and let God do the talking. As an artist this can only mean that you want to be at he best of your abilities if only to be able to fully express what God has to say, to you and through you.

Jason Upton’s song “In your Presence” is probably the best way to describe my thoughts and feelings and it actually illustrates the challenges as well:

Father I am waiting,
I need to hear from You.

To know that You’re approving
of what I say and do.

Cause nothing really satisfies
like when You speak my name.

So tell me that You’ll never leave
and everything will be okay.

In Your presence, all fear is gone, in Your presence.
In Your presence, is where I belong, in Your presence.

Father I’m returning
to things I used to do.

Cause somewhere on the journey
I think I lost hold of the truth.

But nothing really satisfies
like when You speak my name.

So tell me that You’ll never leave
and everything will be okay.

In Your presence, all fear is gone, in Your presence.
In Your presence, is where I belong, in Your presence.

(Lyrics found here>>>)

torically there appears to be a rise of the influence of the Gospel and with that a rise of its influence in the arts. This connection has been strong throughout the centuries but for some reason seem seems to have been valued less valuable or important in the twentieth century. Where there was and is attention for it more than once is turns out to be market driven “copy-catting” or avant-garde elitism. TRULY SERVANT BASED CREATIVITY appears to be a RARE OCCASION

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DOES IT PAY TO INVEST IN ART?


In a Dutch Magazine (FEM), Edin Mujagic reported on the question of whether or Art is a smart investment. It is reported that on average the ROI of investments in art are below those of stocks and bonds. Investment in art is presented as fad, a hype that comes and goes, with markets being flooded by funds that invest in art, advisers on investment in art and self-help books. Millions of dollars are paid for paintings of famous painters and those that would have invested in art in 2006 would have had a higher ROI on their art than those that had invested in art.

As in wine, you have bad years, good years an exceptional years and apparently 2006 was an exceptional year according to a professor and his promovenus at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands who concluded that art investments often have a lower ROI than ios commonly thought. Based on the details of 1.1 million sales they come to an average yearly ROI of 4.01%. 1982 was apparently a turning point where the ROI went below that of stocks and bonds. At the same time there were exceptions especially the period of 2002-2007 (11.6% on average) and the late eighties.
Similar as sock and bonds, it does make a difference what you invest your money in. Oil paintings. especially city scenes and self portraits score high, drawings and prints are at the bottom end of the ladder.

Now it may be me, but could it maybe be that art investments follow the general patterns. When there is money around, a surplus even, you can just give an art investment a go without any expertise. The need for expertise, is in periods like this where if you consider investments in art you will need to know what you are doing if you expect it to provide you a return on investment. That is not any different than on the financial market where a number of advisers end up left puzzled and others have a knack of knowing which ones will do great despite the general trends. Investing simply requires expertise and perhaps some patience.

I see business experts claim that this crisis requires the creatives to turn it around, and people that can anticipate results for the mid to longer term. Perhaps investing will turn back to something more of a personal commitment again. I am far from an expert in that field, but  could imagine that this is perhaps a good time to engage someone that understands or has a feel of what YOUNG and UPCOMING artists and works will be hot in the mid to longer term. Something that requires an in depth understanding of both art and its future markets.

At the same time I still find it a strange idea. To me art is something that’s very hard to put a price on, I see millions go for paintings I would not pay a dollar for, but then again, I am not know to be an investment specialist, let alone an art investment specialist. For some reason I have more sympathy for those people you see on those television programs that bought a work of art just because they loved what they were looking at and years down the line they find out they need to call their insurance company because they ended up buying a very special work of art.

Duh that’s why they bought it in the first place; BECAUSE IT WAS SPECIAL,TO THEM. Come to think of that, if all who could afford it, would end up buying with their heart, how many new artists would there be identified as important, upcoming and brilliant? But if you are in the art game for the money, by all means forget what  just said.

I still find it all a hard thing to imagine: here you are painting of $100,000 on the wall, another $25,000 in security and insurance. You friends come along and say wow! And you saying well I hate the painting but it was the best investment the market had on offer. I think when it comes to art and I have the spare money, I’d stick to my heart, who’d wanna look at something he doesn’t like everyday anyway. I will probably never be a smart investor in financial terms. At the same time I think that a smile on my face because I am enjoying a work of art so much is more than money could ever pay for.  Personally, I find a beautiful painting or picture ( to my taste) a fantastic source of ideas or inspiration. Perhaps as an entrepreneur, business owner or employer: what if this work of art inspires so much it brings you or one of your staff members that  one idea that’s worth a million. Now for that let’s say $25,000 and some time you allow for to dream away you may well end up having made the best investment you ever made (of course together with the staff member that came up with the golden idea. Buy that guy an office filled with paintings to his liking!!!!)

The paintings in this blog post are from two artists I really appreciate:

I suggest you go and have a look on their websites or if you are around, perhaps see and exhibition. Nothing beats the real thing of course. And if you are curious about that revolutionary new artist behind the photo at the top of the article; from a confidential source I have heard that that picture was taken with a mobile phone. The artist has a profile here >>> and his gallery  can be found here >>>.  He may well end up being that mid to long term high yield investment you were looking for hahahahahaha. And should you end up feeling defrauded because you find out the picture you bought was taken with a mobile phone; he investigates fraud as well.

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RUBEN DIAZ on the subject of ART


Recently I was exchanging emails with my Facebook friend Ruben Diaz, a brilliant, Toronto based flamenco guitar player and professor at the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.

During one of these exchanges Ruben stated the following (which I am permitted to share with you):

"Art results not when there is nothing that can be added, but when there is nothing that can be taken away"

Isn't this just a beautiful approach that could very well go well beyond art or get a concept of creation and art into other disciplines and life. A one liner that gives plenty of food for thought! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment either here on Posterous or (preferably) at the new desk of the Renaissance Man.

About Ruben
Ruben Diaz is possessed of flamenco roots that are embedded in his family. Indeed, his father, Luis Chavarría, was a student and a disciple of Andrés Segovia.

It was his farther who first introduced an eight-year-old Ruben to his icon, Paco de Lucía. Ruben’s youthful enthusiasm and relatively untutored efforts were disciplined soon thereafter when he commenced formal studies with the renowned Argentinean classical guitarist, Manuel López Ramos, from whom Ruben obtained a solid foundation in classical guitar technique. Thereafter, he became deeply involved in flamenco music and culture with the gypsy community of Southern Spain which, in turn, led back to what was to become a longstanding and close association with Paco de Lucía who has been both Ruben’s example and preceptor for nearly two decades.

Ruben also studied traditional Bachian harmony with the Mexican composer, Humberto Hernández Medrano (a devotee of Katchaturian and Carlos Chávez) as well as modern harmony with prominent Mexican pianist, Ricardo Páez.

Ruben performed as a soloist with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Mexico, in the opera “La Vida Breve” of Manuel de Falla as well as toured around the world – notably in Italy, Japan, the United States and, of course, Spain (including the most distinguished precincts of Madrid). In Italy, where he has worked extensively, he has had the opportunity to collaborate with many distinguished musicians such as Paolo Fresu, Walter Caloni, Massimo Colombo and Stefano Cherri (of the “Linea di Confine” quartet) as well as the Stauffer Quartet. He has also performed with the renowned flamenco guitarist, Rafael Riqueni, in Taormina, Sicilia.

Ruben has always scrupulously followed the example of his preceptor, Paco de Lucía, by committing himself to both live performances and recordings and, likewise, he now collaborates with artists from many different countries in projects that include his own compositions incorporating jazz elements as well as jazz performers resulting in a flamenco-jazz fusion.

Ruben is committed to contributing to what has become a long tradition of great flamenco art by imparting his own skill and knowledge to those who share his interest and enthusiasm through his own individual classes, open clinics and conservatory teaching.

I truly suggest to get to know more about this wonderful artist an visit his website at: http://www.rdiaz.org or connect with this great man on facebook.

Posted via email from John Dierckx