Today was so cool..I went on a tour of about 8 of the more than 250 art galleries in Chelsea (lower Manhattan) with the director of NYCAMS, John Silvis, and some students from Berry College who are here this week doing mission work with Gallery Church. Chelsea is now considered to be the center of the art world. There were 2 artists that really overwhelmed me with their creativity and genius. The first was Michal Rovner and the 2nd was Tara Donovan. Check out these links to view their work. Both artist really capture you in the presentation of their work. They are both a part of the PACEWILDENSTEIN galleries in Chelsea. As I was reading this afternoon, I came across this statement from Steve Turner in his book Imagine...he says that "There is a need for wisdom in art. If we only confront or stun people it's as if we have tapped them on the shoulder or tugged on their coat, but when they've responded by turning around, we have has nothing of benefit to say to them." I love this statement! I felt that these artist today HAD something to say as I was stunned by the creativity and boldness of their art. I truly desire my art as a songwriter to do the same thing.
Last night at our 4th Gallery Church service, we celebrated communion as a part of our Gathering. What a beautiful time it was...Brett led worship and we did a new song by Charlie Hall called "Closer" - WOW! - We also did a new arrangement of "Jesus Paid it All" that will be out on the new Passion 07 recording. There was such a sense of true worship in our space...we really feel that people are engaging in worship and seeking God during our gathering times. It was a great night...Not only the worship, but we found out that someone we had been praying for trusted in Jesus Christ as their hope for Heaven. We are rejoicing today!
I have an incredible collection of music books and hymnals that date to the early 1900's that have been passed down to me by my grandfather, Mack Benjamin Slack, who was bi-vocational music minister. My mother was a church pianist so it is pretty cool being a 3rd generation church musician. I have put together this wall in our house to tell the story of my family's heritage. It contains pictures of me and mom playing together, my grandfather leading music, my senior recital in college, and a poem I wrote when I was 6 about my career to write songs. Every time I look at this wall, I am inspired to write more songs and to be faithful to the calling that I have on my life. I have always been someone who has enjoyed history and what it teaches us- more specifically, I love my history...
One incredible thing that happened at the IAM conference a few weeks ago was the opportunity I had to host and interview Franz Mohr. For 25 years, he was Vladimir Horowitz's piano tuner and worked for Steinway. He has met every great pianist of the last century and has interacted with them personally. I read his book a few years ago, My Life with the Great Pianists, and it was amazing. After meeting him and spending some time with him, I was overwhlemed at the depth of his faith in God and his passion for prayer. He said that he was only as great as his time in prayer each day. The basics of the Christian life can never escape us, can they? I needed that reminder...
Every Wednesday, I attend a breakfast with other Christian artists in the city where we discuss recent books written about art, culture, and Christianity. This morning's discussion ended with most people agreeing to disagree with each other. The topic isn't important - the point is that everyone will be back next week even if they totally disagreed with someone at the table. I am learning the incredible value of this in every area of my life. I am seeing change happen in my life in big ways as a result of my openess to be OK with agreeing to disagree. I challenge you with this today. Does everyone who has influence in your life agree with everything about you and with everything you say?
I have the unique privilege on our church staff of leading our weekly worship design team with some of our staff. In this time, we brainstorm creative ideas for services and design the environment for our weekly gatherings. One of the things that I recently have challenged our team with is for us to find creative spaces in New York to meet to enhance our creative time. Our college pastor, Stan Thomas, is a native of the city and today he chose St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University as our creative space for our meeting. It was amazing to be in that sapce and to think of how worship has evolved over the last century and I had a moment to be creative in that space today for this century. Check out the link..it is a very interesting story.
Every week, I meet with a group of artists at Cafe Pecan in Tribeca. One of the other patrons of this cafe on Wednesdays is yes, Jon Stewart. We have met once when he needed the highchair that Sydney had vacated for his son, Nathan. Anyway, it was a pretty cool deal to watch him host the Oscars last night (which I thought he did a GREAT job!) to know that I will see him maybe this week or next on Wednesday having a quiet breakfast with his son, Nathan. He enjoys himself so much with his son and that is what I appreciate about him...watching him be a Dad.
OK - so you may be wondering - are you crazy? Most people from the south (of which, I was born and raised in south Louisiana) think that New Yorkers are just rude. Now , I want to say that they are rude people everywhere and I'm sure sometimes I am rude as well, BUT I have had quite a different experience here in the city the last 3 months that I have lived here. I am flying "solo" this week as my husband Todd is out of town so getting around the city with a stroller up and down the subway can take some really strong muscles. However, everytime I have been alone on the subway with my daughter, some nice man has always offered to help with the stoller up and down the stairs. Like the young man today that helped us up 3 flights at the Chambers Street stop as we were on our way to church at Mosaic Manhattan (Gallery is only meeting every other week right now). So say I say Cheers! to the New Yorkers that have given me a totally different impression of this city. Thank you from the bottom of my heart...
Here are some thoughts from Dana Gioia, chairman of the the National Endowment for the Arts, when he spoke at the IAM conference. He believes that most Americans believe the purpose of art is just to produce more artists. American artists have done a rotten job of celebrating and sharing the purpose of art, in his opinion. Artists are able to talk to each other, but do not know how to talk to others. Every civilization has speech and poetry and art is a language. He believes the solution is partnerships - we have to bridge the Arts to organizations who do not "talk" with artists. Art education and partenrships will change this democracy. I stand with Mr. Gioia! The Church needs to be one organization on the frontline saying to artists, "You are welcome here! We celebrate your gift! We want to invest in you as you create for our society."
We saw this film last weekend at the IAM conference and it was great. Produced by David Hunt and Patricia Heaton, it really captures the essence of family and hometown. Check it out!