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Sunday, February 19, 2006

A celebration for the International Arts Movement

. . . Consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
--William Shakespeare

Today some of our fellow human beings burned churches, looted Christian shops, and attacked Christians. They raced through the streets with iron rods, makeshift clubs, and machetes, murdering a priest, children, men, and women. One man, doused with gasoline, burned like a candle in his hoop of tire.

It seems like a good moment to remind lovers of art and humanity about the upcoming conference, "Artists as Reconcilers."

Next weekend is the 15th-anniversary conference of the International Arts Movement, founded by Makoto Fujimura. "International Arts Movement, Inc. (IAM) is a catalyst arts organization committed to cultural and spiritual renewal. Its programs support individual artists in their work and embrace the entire arts community. IAM is active in Tokyo and New York City, with affiliations in Orlando, Los Angeles, and London. Its vision: a fusion of creativity and faith that expresses and illustrates God's intimate and merciful identity in the world."

Mako is a friend and a fascinating painter who works in the tradition of Nihonga, crushing precious substances like azurite and malachite and cinnabar to suspend in unguent, using gold and silver. "The artist is a first generation Japanese-American, born in the United States, and has deep artistic roots in the West, with a particular affinity for the more metaphysical aspects of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting." Critic David Gelertner wrote in A Faithful Art: Makoto Fujimura and the redemption of abstract expressionism: "Makoto Fujimura's paintings are a joyful gusher from a well that had long run dry. . . [he is a] superb artist who does honor to the Japanese traditions he uses, and helps fan life back into several magnificent western traditions--traditions as new as abstract expressionism, as old as Christian art."

This year's conference at Cooper Union, "Artists as Reconcilers," presents artists in many fields of endeavor, a juried art exhibit, and much else. Keynote speakers include Dana Gioia, poet and critic and NEA Director, theologian Miroslav Volf, producer David Hunt, actress Patricia Heaton, and more.

Image: "Golden Pine" by Makoto Fujimura
198" x 270" gold leaf, silver leaf, and mineral pigments
with sumi ink on mulberry-gampi paper over canvas
Oxford House building (CNN Asia, Time-Warner), Taikoo Palace, Hong Kong


  1. Reconciliation? I hope there is a possibility for it. It seems to me as though the human race is hurtling backwards as fast as possible to the dark ages.

  2. The very peculiar thing about today is that we mortals appear to live in very different zones of time--some caught in a sort of medieval landscape, others postmodern, and so on.

    But yes, the current landscape seems a very dark and fallen world, shot through by brilliance.

  3. The world currently seems to be garbed in various shades of dreary gray... perhaps we may, through our actions, convince it to change its wardrobe...

  4. Yes, too much sumi ink applied as a wash with a hake brush and not enough of that dazzling gold leaf...


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.