Chapter 35 — Jesus Sells

January 19, 2012

We received four inches of snow on Sunday and another two on Tuesday afternoon. People went about their business pretty much as usual. Shirley said that her breakfast crowd was larger than normal on Tuesday and Wednesday. Probably folks who decided they couldn’t get to work, but needed nourishment for the hard day ahead of shoveling snow.

Speaking of Shirley’s, she reminds everyone that her “It’s the Middle of January” breakfast specials are now available. Truth be told, the breakfast specials are the same as every other day of the week, but she says that people like to think they are getting a bargain even if they know they aren’t. Shirley is a marketing genius.

Prairie View Extension Club met on Tuesday in St.Stephen’s Church basement with Helen Baker and Lorene Hanson as hostesses. Teresa Duffy gave a program about cheese-making. The members decided to have a program about the food of other countries at future meetings. Next month, Patsy Powers will demonstrate making pierogi. Patsy’s grandmother was Hungarian.

This year’s Miller County Martin Luther King Day celebration was held at the elementary school gym here in Walnut Shade. The combined high school choirs sang a selection of spirituals and beloved Civil Rights era songs. Marcus Green, from Tillman Middle School, gave a dramatic reading of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Stacy James’ essay, “Are Civil Rights Still Important?” won the American Legion essay contest and Stan Hawkins was selected to receive this year’s “DiversityAward” for his editorial asking the County Commission to review it’s hiring practices.

Dorothy Thornton received word that she won an all-expense-paid trip for two to New York City to attend the North American Beauty Expo in March. She said she answered a question on Facebook about shampoo. She thought it was just a way to get her email address, but the company sponsoring the trip is well-known and she decided it couldn’t hurt to enter. “Billy and I haven’t been to New York since just after we got married. I hope it hasn’t changed that much.” We hate to tell you, Dorothy, but it’s changed a little.

Harry Harris and his wife Pamela had Sunday lunch with his aunt Inez and headed back to Marysville before the snow started. Inez said that Harry called about 4:00 p.m. to let her know that big snow flakes were coming down by the time they got home.

Suzie and Norm Marks visited with Lori Mendenhall on Saturday.

Stephanie Barnett returned to Mizzou for the winter semester. She’s combining her love of science with her journalism studies and is thinking about becoming a TV meteorologist.

Curtis Reynolds, Ilene Wick’s nephew has taken a job with Verizon in Denver. His position with Sprint was eliminated in the latest reorganization. Ilene’s niece, Valerie Adams, also lives in Denver, so the cousins will get to see each other more often now.

Ann Davis’ sister, Grace Olsen, who lives in Blue Springs, called to say that her son and daughter-in-law just found out that they are expecting a baby. Ann is happy that she will finally be an aunt.

Liz Wells’ mother Nancy Craig, who teaches social work at the University of Iowa, has received a grant to study the affect of immigration on small town health systems.

Ruth Stanford’s brother, Hank, suffered a broken arm last week when he fell off a ladder while he was taking down Christmas decorations. Ruth said that this is the second time he’s done something like this. He sprained his ankle a few years back when he stepped off the ladder putting up the decorations. “I told him then that he didn’t have any business fooling with such stuff at his age, but he’s never listened to me,” Ruth said. Hank is Ruth’s baby brother, just seventy years old!

The Winter Art Show in Fremont was a great success, according to Mary McCready. Twenty-two artists showed their work in the Courthouse and Josh Norton from Westmoreland won the top prize for his painting of fire on the Konza prairie.

Well, since I didn’t win any prize, it’s probably time for me to get back to work and improve my skills, such as they are, so…

Until next week, I remain…

Your Faithful Correspondent


In his book Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Steve Martin has one of his characters comment on the idiosyncrasies of art:

“I know that there are two subjects in paintings that no one will buy. One is Jesus, and the other is sheep. Love him as much as they want, no one really wants a painting of Jesus in the living room. You’re having a few people over, having a few drinks, and there’s Jesus over the sofa. Somehow it doesn’t work. And not in the bedroom either, obviously. I mean you want Jesus watching over you but not while you’re in the missionary position. You could put him in the kitchen maybe, but then that’s sort of insulting to Jesus. Jesus, ham sandwich, Jesus, ham sandwich; I wouldn’t like it and neither would He…. Sheep are the same, don’t ask me why, can’t sell ’em.”

Sagot, the art dealer in the play, obviously never tried to sell art in northeast Kansas. Jesus sells pretty well around here, and sheep paintings just fly off the walls, so to speak. One of the artists featured in the Winter Art Show, Jerry Corbett, paints nothing but Jesus; sometimes even with sheep. One of his crowd-pleasers, and highest-priced, paintings showed Jesus on the cross with sheep grazing peacefully at his feet. He said that he listens to a lot of Bach while he’s painting and “Sheep may safely graze” is one of his favorite pieces of music, so he got the idea for the painting from the song.

Jesus, it seems to me, would be a tough subject for a painter, with or without sheep. I mean, he’s been done. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Giotto, El Greco, Raphael, Dali all had a go at him. Bouguereau did a painting called L’Innocence that featured Mary holding a baby Jesus and a baby sheep! Take that, Sagot!

What can you do new with Jesus that either doesn’t make him a cliche or a caricature? Gauguin’s painting, “The Yellow Christ,” is anything but cliched, but take a look at the 4827 pieces of Jesus art offered by Walmart! I rest my case.


Another artist in the show, Jake Weston, works with digital images of lights. Back in the late ‘40s, Picasso was featured in an essay in Life showing him drawing with light. It was a sensation then, but not really emulated or imitated by other artists; it was thought of more as a clever stunt than anything. After all, an artist really couldn’t capture the image except on film then so what could you sell? Today, it would be called performance art. But Jake has been creating images with his camera and computer software that capture those performances and memorializes them on paper.

I asked him how he does it and he said that this part of Kansas is the perfect place to work because it is so dark at night.

“I find a light on a house outside of town or set one up on a fence post and while my shutter is open, I move the camera in whatever pattern I’m trying to create. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a lot of trial and error, but a lot of the errors are better than what I set out to do. Of course, I discard more shots than I keep. But that’s the beauty of digital imaging; you don’t waste a lot of film.”

To be honest, Jake’s work doesn’t sell as well as Jerry Corbett’s paintings of Jesus, but I once heard someone say that people who eat at buffets prefer Thomas Kinkade paintings. I certainly don’t mean to disparage the artistic taste of the folks around here, but we do seem to have a lot of buffets in this part of the country.

About stclairc

Abstract artist, photographer, writer
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