Artist of the Month: Alfonse Borysewicz
Alfonse Borysewicz makes paintings that yoke the austerity of near-abstraction with an underlying sense of beauty and grace. For many of us, his painting "Ash Wednesday," which was the cover art for Image's special 9/11 issue, was both a prophetic and a consoling work at a painful historical moment. Its cluster of black smudges, some morphing into crosses, against a background of shimmering gold, struck some viewers as the perfect embodiment of what the great Catholic philosopher Unamuno called "the tragic sense of life." Borysewicz is highly regarded in the New York art world, no mean feat for someone who has become more public about his faith. But that kind of integrity under pressure is what those who know him have come to expect from Alfonse Borysewicz. In his personal essay in Image he writes of his work: "Its struggles are historically Christian ones: living in the tension between the already and not yet; the encompassing breadth of the Spirit that brings joy and comfort; the immensity of sin; and Holy Mother Church which sustains."
To go to the Artist of the Month page on Alfonse Borysewicz, click here.
Disarmament by John Terpstra
John Terpstra is a Canadian poet and a frequent contributor to Image. By instinct he is a narrative poet, a writer whose diction is spare, colloquial, even conversational. And yet, as is the way with poetry, the words accrete meaning, add up to more than the sum of the linguistic parts. So, too, with the emotional freight in these poems: each poem gathers slowly into a weightiness that leaves a lingering impression on the memory. A perfect example would be the title poem, "Disarmament," which we published in Image. Here Terpstra creates several metaphor layers: not only the large political and ethical issues raised by war but more local conflicts in an apartment building. As the narrative builds, it is punctuated by lines that crystallize all that has gone before: "Our lives run through our fingers like water.... The war is never elsewhere." And the wrenching conclusion: "Come, love / Disarm us." Terpstra's poetry is wise without the slightest shred of self-consciousness; the wisdom present here comes through experience; it is not proclaimed, but lived in and through language. This is a poet you will not so much want to read as dwell with. By the way, this book is published by Gaspereau Press, a wonderful literary publisher based in Nova Scotia. In an age of computer screens and cheap paper, it's sheer sensual pleasure to experience the way Gaspereau presents Disarmament. From the texture of the paper to the beauty of the typeface to the final colophon, this is the medium in which word and reader should meet.
Go to the publisher's page on Disarmament here.
Terpstra was featured as an Image Artist of the Month here.
Spotlight on Taproot Theatre Company
Here's a question for you: where in Seattle can you find a pierced-tattooed guy and a grandma sitting next to each other, laughing over the same thing? If you're Scott Nolte, you might answer Taproot Theatre Company, and you would be correct. In 1976, Scott Nolte and his wife, Pam, founded Taproot Theatre Company in a city that could boast a phenomenal interest in the performing arts, film, and books...and the worst church attendance per capita among the nation's major cities. Scott comments, "Twenty-eight years later, I can't say that the scene has changed much at all - except that the expanse between 'churched and unchurched' and liberal and
conservative seems wider and more divisive. I think that one of TTC's tasks is to bridge the gap." Part of TTC's reason for existence is "to explore the beauty and questions of life while bringing hope to our search for meaning." As a theatre with a biblical grounding, they're working to be both a crossroads and a presence. As such, their audiences reflect a wide spectrum of people. Scott says, "It's a God-calling to create theatre and nightly mini-community to reflect on and celebrate ideas, language, and emotion. It's also a responsibility to balance our pursuit of artistic quality and honesty with the process of how productions are nurtured and who we are as a cadre of believers, artists, technicians and administrators." Taproot's programming is described as "eclectic, challenging and fun." Opening July 9th is the 1999 Tony Award-winning revision of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, followed by Much Ado About Nothing in September. Filling in the year are weekend performances by the Taproot Improv Comedy troupe, school year tours by the Road Company of social-issue plays, and a year round schedule of acting classes for youth and adults. In the coming months, we hope to spotlight similar regional theatre companies, such as Lamb's Players in San Diego.
For more info, visit www.taproottheatre.org.
Wonderful and Dark Is this Road
Out this month is Emilie Griffin's new book on mysticism, Wonderful and Dark Is this Road: Discovering the Mystic Path (Paraclete). Griffin, author of a series of literate but accessible books on prayer, conversion, growing older, is exactly the person you'd want to have cover this topic. She writes neither for experts nor chowderheads, but straightforwardly and with true gentleness both toward her subject and her readers. If you've wanted to investigate the Christian mystical tradition and weren't sure where to start reading, this is a great place to begin. Griffin narrates its history from Paul's vision on the road to Damascus to twentieth-century figures like Simone Weil and Therese of Lisieux. She also touches on Jewish and Sufi mystics, charismatic apostles, Quakers and Shakers, and covers phenomenon like levitation, stigmata, and whirling dervishes, and the like, but her underlying point is that mysticism is not some exotic, kooky, distant phenomenon. Though mystics themselves are rare and strange (no watery claims from Griffin that we're all mystics), the thing they're experiencing-God's nearness-is all around us. Griffin draws on literature to make the mystical tangible, making use of poets like John of the Cross, George Herbert, Christina Rossetti, and novelists like Ron Hansen and Mark Salzman to put legs to ecstatic experience.
For more information on the book, click here.
To visit Emilie Griffin's Artist of the Month page, click here.
To End All Wars Out on DVD: Just Get It
[We ran the following review over a year ago when To End All Wars had an extremely limited theatrical release. Now it's out on DVD, so we wanted to remind you-all just how good it is. Rent it or buy it: you won't forget this story.]
To End All Wars is a film about redemption in the midst of suffering and forgiveness in the face of brutality. Based on the book written by Ernest Gordon, To End All Wars tells the true story of four allied prisoners of war and their struggle to find the grace to forgive in the most unlikely of places. It is World War II, and Ernest Gordon is one of several prisoners of war who are being held by enemy soldiers in Thailand. Forced by their captors to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle, these men are subjected to physical abuse, poor working conditions, and malnutrition. As they suffer daily, waiting without hope for deliverance, the film's narrator faces questions that will change his life: What is the proper response to injustice? Who is my neighbor? The film is unrelenting and honest in the brutality it portrays--and the result is a portrait of forgiveness that is all the more surprising and meaningful. The film includes glimpses of grace in the midst of the suffering. As the prisoners struggle to find hope in the face of persecution, Ernest and his allied prisoners of war start a school of the liberal arts. They rediscover dignity in literature, music, and the arts, and ultimately are saved from hopelessness through their care for each other. In their studies they begin to face the reality that hatred makes us all capable of brutality and none of us is far removed from the enemy. This naturally overflows in their actions as they alternate between the desire for justice and the command to show mercy to the enemy. Some of them want to kill their captors and flee; however, the example of one soldier who lays down his life daily for his brothers, and even for the one who betrays him, demonstrates the transforming power that can result from forgiveness. This portrait of forgiveness culminates in the final scene when the real Ernest Gordon and one of his former captors, Noguchi, reunite. Years after the war, they embrace in a deeply moving image of reconciliation.
To End All Wars was being funded and produced as a small, independent film. The cast, including Ciarán McMenamin, Kiefer Sutherland, and Robert Carlyle, deliver sensitive performances, each adding emotional pull to the telling of this true story. With a beautiful soundtrack and creative cinematography, the film not only takes you into the midst of the prison camp, but sensitively portrays the situation in such a way that these alternatively brutal and miraculous scenes provide unforgettable resonances with the viewer.
To go to the film's website, click here.