This past weekend, August 16th and 17th, I was showing icons and doing some painting at the Glenwood Ave Arts Fest. This is the second time I’ve done “live art” at a festival and been painting icons in public. I’ve shown my icons at the Glenwood Ave. Fest for several years now. Not surprisingly the public display of art that is of a particular spiritual and religious tradition leads to conversation, allowing people to see the process also elicits conversation.
Not sure why, but this year I noticed a change in tenor and tone of those who approached me to talk to me about icons and why I paint them. In the past the conversations tended to revolve around the juxtaposition of religious art (or the act of painting religious art) in a public and “secular” art space. Most of these conversations centered on people’s troubled or antagonistic relationship with Christianity. This year the conversations settled mostly around how each persons own spiritual journey connected up with an icon, or icons, or my presence at the festival painting icons. While I did speak with a number of Christians, the majority of those with whom I spoke weren’t identifying as Christian or identified as post-Christian in someway, as in past years. However, this year no one I talked with had stories of their struggle with Christianity or how Christians or the church had hurt them. Also, no one seemed terribly taken back by “Priestly Goth”, well except that to some I had to explain what Goth was, which was new. Not a single person asked how I could be a pastor and a goth. Though, most did comment with surprise when it came out that I was a pastor.
Here’s a few pictures from the weekend: