“Art matters because it provides a communication tool between an artist or designer and the diverse audience who encounters the art. This encounter may generate thought, stimulate conversation, or evoke emotion.
When we first wake up and become aware of light and shape around us, we see. This is a passive experience. We look when we focus our attention on specific objects, images, or details. Looking is active and engaging.
A beautiful piece of art is pleasing to the eye and soul. Sometimes sad and ugly stories need telling and they might be disturbing and uncomfortable. These scenarios share a common goal: to capture attention and to elicit a reaction. Sometimes thinking is more important than liking.” ~ Rodney Allen Schwartz
This gallery will soon feature one of my aunt’s paintings, Iron Crosses, Bruges.
After a flurry of emails back and forth, I was connected to Chris van Lierop, whose parents were Rev. Richard E. Nelson and Mrs. Dorothy Rawlings Nelson.
I received this lovely note from Chris:
“I looked again at your website. Iron Crosses is in the background of the newspaper photo dated Feb 18, 1960. That article mentions Cedar Falls. I assume that my parents met Sister Mary James Ann at that time.
My father was campus pastor at Norther Iowa U at that time. In that capacity, he organized exhibits of religious art at the student center on campus on Serely Blvd. We lived in that building when I was born in 1956 and for the first three years of my life. I had assumed that my parents met Sister in connection with one of the exhibits they organized. But perhaps it was at the other exhibit in Cedar Falls mentioned in the article.”
My family moved to Duluth, MN, in 1964. Iron Crosses hung in our dining room there for 45 years!
Chris also shared that Iron Crosses, Bruges was donated to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. She provided me with a photo that was provided by Dr. Rodney Allen Schwartz, director of the Westminster Gallery and Archive, who has given me permission to use it here:
However, Chris did inform me that the painting in the background of this clipping is Iron Crosses, Bruges. I would have never known unless I saw the original!
According to a 1960 article SisterJamesAnn_1960, my aunt was inspired to create this along with many other images during an art student tour of Europe.
I have never been to Belgium, but I was curious about what my aunt may have been looking at. I found this picture from a Google search – I couldn’t find who owns it but it was on a website called dipity.com
I also found this YouTube video searching for photographs. Not all of the images shown in this video are of crosses made of iron. Some ornate crosses are found individually on top of headstones, and this collection, set to lovely music, shows the same area photographed above, but dusted with snow. I think it sets a pensive tone.
Chris is also going to try and find some old family photographs where the painting hung in the dining room! The painting was 48″ by 34″ tall.
I will discuss the detail of the image at a later date here.
Portrait of a mid-century contemporary artist, AKA Ann Walsh