Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Mixtape [the art-as-buried-treasure edition]

Bravo to the musicians, poets, painters, photographers, architects, crafters, writers, filmmakers who do the work of uncovering the works of the great community of artists and craftsmen who have gone on before.  Works hidden under layers of amnesia with each new generation.   Or buried underneath the surprise devastations of life.  I'm certain there are heaps of examples of this sort of good work, I'm only sharing a few examples from my own recent discoveries.

In honor of all those wise souls who take the time to look beyond their own experience to learn the lessons buried like treasure waiting to be polished and shared with a new age, I share this week's mix tape.

the prelude: listen while you read!

track 1: old hymns made new

The baby boomer generation and those of us following in their footsteps have not handled with care the rich treasury of the hymnody passed down through the centuries.  We've either grasped them, white-knuckled, as we might old rusty muskets aimed at anyone who dare imagine any other type of musical praise and worship.  Or we've all but heaved them overboard like so much baggage weighing us down from our lofty dreams of "authentic" worship.

I've spent the last couple of years re-discovering the poetic catechism of the hymns.  Some familiar, most completely overlooked in my generic evangelical upbringing.  I've learned to love new melodies to old lyrics and new instrumentation of the timeless melodies that, hopefully, will never change.

And, for those of my dear friends and readers, who still believe that the drums on their church stage indicates their worship services are "contemporary" should pay close attention the agegroup resurrecting and renewing the ecclesial coffers of the hymnody written by those who've gone before us. 

Since this is a mixtape, I don't want to take up any more editorial space.  Here's a few links you should totally check out:

track 2: unknown street photographer's work discovered

Vivian Maier

Please notice all the layers of meaning uncovered in this story.  First, the young woman who paid attention to the craft of photography and the mysterious beauty in the everyday going on around her.  Then the young entrepreneur/author/photographer/archiver who paid attention to a box full of negatives.  Then the curators, publishers and filmmakers who paid attention to the discovered work in order to tell the story on a bigger stage.  Kudos, John Maloof, for the blood, sweat and tears you are investing in this sort of anthropological dig.

*thank you to bearing blog for being the first to share this story.

track 3: links from artistic treasure-finders
  • Davey's Daily Poetry - I receive this daily email and as often as possible keep my hope to read poetry out loud in 2011.
  • Banish Misfortune: Arthouse America tells the story of a group of musicians meeting together for years to keep alive the joyous tradition of Irish folk music (and Irish ale!)

track 4: books!

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor, edited by Sally Fitzgerald

Thank you, Sally Fitzgerald, for archiving, collating and publishing the delightful letters of Flannery O'Connor.  You have done the world a great favor. I've been reading this since Christmas and continue to absorb the treasure Ms. O'Connor is to those of us who cherish excellent story-telling, deep faith and good humor.

How To Sew A Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried

In the world of how-to books, How to Sew a Button deserves it's very own shelf.  Author Erin Bried  interviewed ten real, authentic-down-to-their-homemade-jam-stained fingertips grandmamas from around the nation. The fun and easy-to-read manual uncovers the lost art of making a home: shining shoes, gardening  and storing vegetables, folding crisp fitted sheets, and, yes, sewing those loose buttons.

I'm putting this book on my shelf right next to Edith Schaeffer -- a harmonious duet of artful homemaking.

Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption in Florence by Robert Clark

I read this with my Reader's Guild last year and wrote about it on IAM's blog.  You want to get an in-depth description of the tedious craft of art restoration, this is your book. I  know that doesn't sound very interesting, but Robert Clark won us over with his passion and his storytelling.

 When I was discussing with my children this piece of history (the Florence floods), they understood better than most adults might:  "All those works of art represented the history of man.  When one person dies in a flood, it's one life.  When the artwork is destroyed, it's the story of mankind."

track 5: your turn!

What old-time art have you been able to appreciate because someone did the work of preserving or unearthing or renewing it? Share your story, link, video, photographs below.  Who's creating and cultivating in your family? Bloggers, use the Simply Linked function below to share the link from your post with us.  I'd be honored if you included a link back to me on your blog.  Not a blogger? Share with us through the comment feature!  Neither of these work for you?  I also accept carrier pigeons.

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