I heard on the local news of my NPR station that a group of local concerns attempting to maintain a Philadelphia home to Thomas Eakins' famous paintint, The Gross Clinic, has raised about one-third of the $68 million needed to keep the painting in Philadelphia. They look to prevent Thomas Jefferson University's sale of the painting to a partnership of the National Gallery and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, slated to be open in 2009, in Bentonville, Arkansas.
This makes me very happy. If you'd like to contribute to keep The Gorss Clinic in Philadelphia, here is information I posted in a previous post on the subject.
Tax-deductible donations to the Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece can be made online at:The Philadelphia Museum of Art (a fabulous institution, I might add) offers the following information about tax-deductible donations to the Keep Eakins Fund:
Checks payable to the Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece may be sent to:
Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece
c/o the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Box 7646, Philadelphia, Pa.
There is also a Fund for Eakins' Masterpiece hotline for information at:
If the efforts to acquire the Eakins masterpiece are unsuccessful, we will contact you to find out if you wish to have your contribution returned or if you would be willing to have your contribution used to keep other significant works of art in the Philadelphia region for public enjoyment and education.Here's why I think this is important and why I will be making a small contribution after I'm done writing this post.
It's not just because I happen to think Wal-Mart is a demon corporation and because I'm disgusted and immensely annoyed that people who have lots of money think it's their due to pick up whatever they want simply because they want it and have the bucks to back that up. It's about respect for tradition and about the spreading infection of fundamentalism in the United States.
I am a Christian. I have been a Christian since I accepted Christ as my savior in 1976. I still consider this to be a very positive event in my life which has supported the development of my personality and moral view. I attended fundamentalist, evangelical Christian churches for six or so years a couple of decades or so ago. I have very fond memories of some of my communions with other Christians at these congregations.
Since I stopped going to church, I've witnessed the rise in popular culture of Jerry Falwell, Liberty University and Heritage USA; Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and The PTL Club; Pat Robertson and The 700 Club; megachurches like Crystal Cathedral. You remember Pat Robertson? The "evangelical" who suggested that Hugo Chavez, the democratically-elected president of Venezuela, should be "taken out?" The "Christian" who told the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania that they had "rejected God" when they voted out all seven school board members who favored the teaching of intelligent design and not to expect any help from His quarter when they called out to Him. (Thanks to People for the American Way for posting the video. Go visit their Right Wing Watch for more hilarity! Oh...and don't miss the Right-Wing Outrage page!)
Joseph Coors and the Heritage Foundation, anyone?
Is it any wonder I don't attend a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian church any more.
It's not about rich people or class divisions and classism. It's not about exploiting poor people or exploiting workers. It's about the marriage of fundamentalist Christianity and commerce.
On my trip out west last summer, I happened through southwestern Missouri. I ate at a restaurant made famous for people throwing buns. I came within an hour's drive of Branson, MO, the Las Vegas of the Bible Belt. Even from that distance, you could see evidence of the contemptible, contemporary, commercialized version of Christianity in the vicinity.
I had stopped at the Black Madonna Shrine in eastern Mo. on the trip out. Tht is a wonderful, peaceful place tucked into the hillside off a very small country road in Eureka. It's a series of grottoes set in the hillsides with paths, trails, memorial benches, tiny sitting spaces and the stations of the cross. It was constructed, according to RoadsideAmerica.com,
"Brother Bronislaus Luszcz of the Franciscan Missionary Brothers started in 1938 and spent 22 years building the Black Madonna Shrine and Grottoes."Brother Bronislaus built walls of broken bits of crockery, stones and cement and decorated them with pieces of glass, costume jewelry, tiny ornaments, seashells. I am not Catholic. I appreciate some of their rituals but most of Catholicism sticks in my craw. Yet I loved the Black Madonna Shrine. It spoke to me of the intensely personal relationship one can have with God. It preached inner peace and the joy that brings and the opening of the heart to the world that results from meditation on the divine.
Southwestern Missouri is nothing like the Black Madonna Shrine. It's glittery lights and flashy fountains. It's STORIES FROM THE BIBLE screaming out from giant sound systems in vast auditoria hollowed out of the hills. It's massive, expensive passion plays. It's all bling.
Bling ain't what God's all about. God's about helping other people, about learning about oneself, about offering respect to everyone and accepting them for what they are. God's not about scaring children with horrid tales of homosexuals. It's not about cloistering oneself away so that you only interact with "your own kind." Note that the demographics of Branson, MO indicates that the racial makeup as of the 2000 census was 90.92% white. In a nation that's comprised of at least 20% people of color.
It's about empire and those who believe that because they accepted Christ at some point in their lives, everything they do is justified. God is on their side. So, it's okay to exploit those less fortunate because you're going to use the proceeds for a more important "good." You can justify anything this way including wresting a precious piece of art from the city with which it has always been irrevocably related and in which it has always resided. Even a war of greed, power and delusion in which 100,000 civilians are killed.
No, I don't want The Gross Clinic to ever reside in Arkansas. I want us to stand up to Alice Walton and her $18,000,000,000 net worth and her fundamentalist Christian family roots. I want to support what I believe (read: know) to be the right thing, not what someone else says is the right thing. Let Eakins' work stay in Philadelphia and let Alice Walton collect Grant Wood.
tags: art / bitchy / Christian Dominion Theology / Christianity / Thomas Eakins / keep Eakins / fundamentalist Christianity / The Gross Clinic