Fudge on South Main with Project Sketchbook

Another project I got involved with.

Project Sketchbook is a mail-art project created by the Rozelle Artists Guild and sponsored by Memphis College of Art. Over this past summer, they have distributed over 100 4x5inch, 12 page, handmade sketchbooks to artists & writers in Memphis and abroad. The finished sketchbooks will be on display at an exhibition on Friday, August 28th, 2009 at 511 S. Main from 6-9PM. The best pages will be compiled into a book. If you're interested in having a sketchbook mailed to you, contact RAG at rozellehouse@gmail.com. The deadline for finished sketchbooks is August 14th, 2009. You can check out more info. about Rozelle Artists Guild & Project Sketchbook at rozelleartistsguild.org.

Here is my sketchbook. It's sort of a "Fight Club" themed book. It's expressions of frustration. It's not that i hate my job, its fine. but i do occasionally dislike being a grown-up with all the responsibilities, trappings, and stuff.

Art for The Least of These

When: Thursday, August 27, 2009 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Circa by John Bragg
119 S. Main Street, Suite 100
Memphis, TN 38103
Please join me this Thursday, August 27th at Circa on Main Street for their 2nd Anniversary Celebration and Benefit! There will be a wine reception, art auction and live music. You can also enjoy an amazing three course meal for $90.00 - seats are limited so hurry and call now! (901.522.1488)
I will have 5 pieces on display for the auction. The reception is free and donations are much appreciated. The money we raise will go towards a mission my friend Chris Reed is leading to build a school for an orphanage in Kibera, Africa.
Thank you and we hope to see you all there!
“Diverge” Erin’s Grove series – 2008
acrylic media — 20”x16”, 18”x24”

Blind” – 2007
acrylic media — 16”x20”

See” – 2008 (not pictured)
acrylic media — 16”x20”

“Peace in the Valley” – 2007
acrylic media — 20”x16”

“Cross” #6 – 2008
acrylic media — 16”x20”


Visual Expressions of Prayer - Journal Project

I'm excited to report that one of the prayer journals is about to go cross country! Journal # 2 is about to go coast to coast from Peletier, NC to Memphis, TN to Portland, OR. That's a 3,240 mile trip by car.

View Journal #2 in a larger map

There is still plenty of time and many pages to fill. I could also use some west coast participation. some more info about the project. Currently, the plan is when the journals (there are 3 in circulation) are "full" or as they become full, I would retain ownership. More like stewardship. I am planning to exhibit the journals at my church at the end of Sept as a part of a sermon series and art exhibit about prayer. Then they will go back into circulation. I will likely display them from time to time in our gallery.

When a journal is full, I plan to make a DVD slide show of all the pages and send a copy to each artist who participates. Also, I'd consider requests to lend out the full journals to other artists or church leaders to share with their community. That will probably will depend on the condition of the journals in the end. I dont want them to get so torn up that they threaten to fall apart in your hands. Who knows what God may have in mind for it. I haven't seriously thought if through because first of all it will take a long time to fill one and secondly it was just something i started with a few friends for the fun, inspiration, and community of it.

Maybe these journals full of faith and creativity will inspire other artists in their spiritual journey. See the progress and journey here:
http://2sendaprayer.blogspot.com/ To participate, you will need to email me at richard.fudge@gmail.com with your name, your phone number and mailing address.


Why does visual art need to be part of the worship service?

A fellow artist asked me the other day why I felt strongly about including art in the worship experience. I thought it was a good question.

Just performance?
I would say that adding live art to the service is not necessarily changing the act of creating to a performance. Sure, there are some practiced folks that can create a painting quickly during a service and with an element of performance, but most of the artists at my church work on one piece over the course of a month. So it can be a slower process like that in the studio. This incorporation of art making, my church has been able to grow a gallery, artist small group, and a creative leadership team. Having the artist on stage during the worship exhibits our commitment to visual art and draws artists out of their seats. It also promotes understanding and appreciation of art by the church members. This leads to other opportunities for the visual art in the church.

What about excellence of craft?
As to excellence in craft, just because it created on stage doesnt decrease the excellence of the work. I've seen plenty of artist who create with as much or more skill when on stage. Also, adding art to the worship gives rise to purpose and community for the artist and a drive to become a better artist. I have met many artists who began painting again or increased their output because the church encouraged their work through live painting and a gallery space. I have seen not only my own skills grow and develop, but many other artists in our community as well. Although we started with mostly casual artists (folks who like to paint but it weren't in galleries), over time we have connected with more professional artists. Also, I've seen casual artists grow and develop their abilities through community and purpose for their work. Name an art gallery in your area that focuses on Christian themes and messages. I bet you cant name one that is not part of a church. I know there is not one in Memphis. In this way we are influencing the culture of the city.

Spiritual Growth
Now painting on stage may seem a strange idea for an artist, but the experience is so enriching to your spiritual walk and worship experience. I've had many artists who shied away at first but after visiting our service and seeing another artist painting, most feel drawn like a moth to a light. No artist has ever told me, "thanks for the opportunity but that was just too uncomfortable." Once they have done it, most artists are eager to paint during the worship again and again. People in the church love it too. They often purchase the work and encourage the artist. People who purchase a painting can use the painting as a conversation piece in their home to talk with others about their faith.

Sparking Creativity
Without the live art element in the service, I believe our arts ministry would not be as strong or as fruitful. We have artists who have found other ways to use art in the church. One artist stated using art in the children's sunday school to help kids express their feelings and faith. Another artist created a series of work after a mission trip. The work promoted awareness and raised money for a building project. We have artists who are planning a mural project in the section of town that the church does its urban ministry. We have artists in our leadership team who help brainstorm creative sermon series and events. But these things were all possible through the door of inclusion or art in the worship.


Upcoming book by Don Miller

I'm so excited about this new book. I cant wait to get my copy WHEN HE COMES TO MEMPHIS!


Crows on the Cross

So, I thought I'd share this totally random occurrence. Last Sunday, I am walking up to the church for The Stirring. I hear a lot of cawing and I look up at the top of the church. Gathered on the cross were three black crows and a moment later a fourth landed. It had a very
Alfred Hitchcock feel to the scene. Like something out of The Birds. Very creepy and ominous. What were they doing there? What sort of meaning should one take for seeing something like that? Coincidence or not, those two things have tons of symbolic meaning that the artist in me was fascinated by. I can't help but wonder, "Um, God, what was that all about?"

From wikipedia "Crows, and especially ravens, often feature stories as a sign or warning of doom or death, because of their dark plumage, unnerving calls, and tendency to eat carrion. They are commonly thought to circle above scenes of death."

Luke 12:24 - Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Angry Conversations with God by Susan Isascs

I've been doing a lot of research on prayer for an up-coming art exhibit. I came across this book. It's too funny not to share (folks who get upset with the occasional curse word or have no sense of humor should not read this book).

Product Image
Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir

by Susan E. Isaacs

Angry Conversations With God began when Susan hit hit forty and found herself loveless, jobless, and living over a garage. When a churchy friend told Susan that she needed to look at her relationship with God was it like a marriage, Susan decided to take God to marriage counseling.

Angry Conversations chronicles Susan's spiritual history, from childhood faith to a midlife crisis, and all the bizarre church experiences in between.


Acceptance of visual art in church. Words vs Image

So I was talking to a pastor of a Lutheran church the other day. I had this question, "Why are churches with very contemporary worship styles so slow to incorporate visual art to the worship?"

Think about it. I'll use a local church as an example. The Life Church of Memphis is a large multi-campus church. It's got a contemporary worship band, concert lighting, a TV broadcast, set design, professional graphic design and video, casual but hip dressing pastor, etc. You get the picture. Lots of churches are like this now, and I dont have any problem with that. I enjoy it.

If you consider all of those innovative and contemporary elements in the worship, it just seems to me that the next logical step would be to include visual art. Why not have a painter creating a work live on stage or have a gallery space? You're more likely to find an acceptance and appreciation of visual art in a very traditional church such as a Catholic, Episcopal, or Lutherian church. I expressed this to pastor Dave. It lead to an interesting discussion about theology. Dave's comment was that Protestant churches focus heavily on the Word. At the base of many of these worship expressions are words - song lyrics, the script in a drama or video, the text in a design, etc. It's all expressions of words and often based on scripture.

I would add that it is also easy to define. Words have set meanings. Images on the other hand (such as a painting) are open to personal interpretation. There are no words. You could also argue that this is the same reason that interpretative dance or ballet is rarely included in worship services.

What are your thoughts?