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Janice Crow: Fine Art, Cracked Pots, and Nose Rings

Fine Art, Cracked Pots, and Nose Rings

The sight of the Mona Lisa has puzzled mankind for generations. Was she smiling or smirking?  Some think that Mona Lisa was not a woman at all, but a clever tongue-in-cheek “selfie” of Leonardo da Vinci.  I tend to think she was a real woman because her expression is mockingly “for me to know and you to find out.” Why did da Vinci paint her that way?  What’s with the straight-line lips and no eyebrows?  We will never know.

European artists over the centuries have painted countless women inexplicably holding an orange, almost as if there was some subliminal message intended…. like the 18th Century version of playing a Beatles record backwards.  Who knows why?  It’s just odd.  And can anyone explain why Picasso painted a nose coming straight out of a forehead?  That guy was messed up.

Then take the famous painting of Napoleon standing with his hand inside his shirt vest.  What was going on there?  Did he have a wart on his hand he was trying to hide? Was he holding up his britches or trying to draw attention away from his balding head?  A troubling case of prickly heat, perhaps?  

Honestly, I shouldn’t even attempt to talk about fine art, as my budget is more  “Elvis on velvet” than Van Gogh or Monet.  I don’t have the “Monet” to buy that stuff.  I know…bad. 

My point is, these are things I don’t understand.  They make no sense to me,  and what’s more, they seem wholly ridiculous. To me, art is a landscape…some pastoral setting…something recognizable that looks a bit dreamy.  Now, Thomas Kinkade…him I get. All art should look like that.  At least that’s my traditional, old fogey opinion.     

It’s easy to cast a judgmental eye and make comments about things we don’t understand and don’t care for, and I’ve been guilty, I confess. Take body art for instance.  No, I don’t understand why somebody would cover themselves head to toe in garish permanent ink.  That colorful tattoo alluding to a relationship five years ago is old news now, but you’re stuck with it.  I don’t get that.  This world has a short attention span and everything here is temporary.  I mean, why not just use a  Magic Marker that washes off when the relationship goes belly up?  And someday, sir, when you’re of a certain age, that battleship on your chest is gonna look more like a garbage scow. And that doesn’t even consider a needle of questionable sanitary state poking you hundreds of times.  But then, it’s none of my beeswax.

 I don’t understand the “art” of body piercing and nose studs. Personally, I hate it when my restaurant server approaches the table with those things.  To me, they look like giant pustules and it’s just nauseating.  And what’s worse is that thingy that dangles from each nostril.  I always wonder…is that jewelry or something your Kleenex missed?   Hey, I’m trying to eat here!  But, again, none of my business. 

You know, as I write this, I have to laugh,  because on the flip side of all this, I’m pretty sure that all those folks who sport the body art and piercings and gigantic earlobe holes that you can hear the wind whistling through, things that I don’t care for and don’t understand, would take one look at my big coiffure and say, “Hey, lady, 1982 called and wants its hair back.”  They would be appalled at my comfortable Clark boots, mom jeans, and Rose Nylund pink nails.    They would wonder why I don’t cover up these freckled arms with a colorful sleeve or at least connect the dots with ink.  They would crack up to see my June Cleaver jewelry or my blingy little spectacles with mother-of-pearl earpieces, and of course, my cell phone that’s about six iterations behind.   I’m sure I appear to be a creature quite out of time.  And I guess I am, for I just see the world differently.

What a relief to know I’m not alone in my mistaken assumptions, for according to the Old Testament, the prophet Samuel had a “Janice” moment when the Lord asked him to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king.  He took one look at Jesse’s good-looking tall kid, Eliab, and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.  But the Lord said unto Samuel, ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him:  for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:6-7 KJV)  Jesse paraded seven of his sons before Samuel, and all were rejected.  Samuel asked if that was all Jesse’s children, and he basically said, well, there’s one more but he’s just a kid and a shepherd at that.  Samuel says, go get him. 

So they go to the hilly pasture, flag him in, and take him to Samuel.  Now, I’m just spitballing here, but this kid has been out in the hot sun, wallowing around with the sheep.  I’m imagining a red-faced kid with windblown hair matted at the temples,  smelling of stale sweat, and sheep dung standing before Samuel.  And of all things, the Lord says, “Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”   Seriously?  The youngest of the lot?  The filthy, stinking shepherd? I mean, surely we can find somebody who smells better and cleans up occasionally to be king.  What will the other nations think?   Is he smart enough to do this?  Can a  shepherd be trusted?  That might have been my reaction.  

There was a painting done years ago by a lady named Elizabeth Bouguereau called “The Shepherd David”.  It shows her depiction of young David kneeling over a dead lion, holding the lamb he just took out of the lion’s mouth.  His left hand is pointed heavenward, and I can’t help but think of Psalms 121:2, “My help cometh from the Lord which made heaven and earth.”   David was no dummy.

What an unlikely Bible hero…everybody, including his family,  saw him as that dirty young whippersnapper.  God saw him as the warrior who would defeat Israel’s enemy Goliath, the king who would sit upon the throne in Jerusalem, and a man who would be an ancestor of Jesus Christ.  1 Samuel 13:14 (NIV) tells us, “…the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people…”.  A man after the Lord’s own heart.  Hmmm, who could tell from the outside?

I wonder…if today I was tasked with a similar job to Samuel’s…if all the candidates except one passed before me in three-piece suits with Florsheims polished to a mirror finish, a neat military haircut, and a  starched Van Heusen with spiffy cufflinks and the Lord said, “No… I want the guy tattooed from head to toe with the safety pin in his ear and the jeans that look like they’ve been through a meat grinder…the one who smells funny”, could I do it?  Could I anoint him king?  Could I set aside the things I don’t understand, the things I find disgusting, distasteful, even ridiculous, in order to obey the Lord?  I certainly hope so… I pray so.  

There is so much work to do, and this is a day and age when I believe, the Lord is looking for willing vessels.  I don’t think he cares all that much about how the vessel is decorated.  After all, strip away the paint and glitter and we’re all just pottery…and some of us are cracked.  Yeah, that would be me.

Staff writer Janice Crow – Singer – Songwriter

Janice Crow

Janice Crow is an accomplished singer/songwriter.
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