There will be a conference for Catholic artists and patrons, covering painting, sculpture, architecture, music and film will take place in Omaha, Nebraska from October 27-29, 2016. Featured speakers are Anthony Visco, Fr Michael Morris (who writes the art articles for Magnificat, Denis McNamara and many other well known names, As well as sharing ideas about art, it will be a showcase for the artists and they will be able to interact with patrons, publishers, liturgical design companies and so on. I anticipate regular updates through the year.This is good news. I am not aware of something done on this scale before and so I pray that it is successful in furthering the new ‘epiphany of beauty’. The website is here.
However it does raise the question in my mind of what the aims of such conference should be and how might they be achieved? I am thinking particularly of the visual arts of painting and sculpture, the area I know best, as I write.
Over the years several people have suggested exhibitions to me as a way of promoting beautiful art and helping Catholic artists. As a rule I am skeptical about their value. The assumption seems to be that there are good artists out there who are unknown, and if we can provide a showcase for their work, it will give them a chance to become known and then patrons will commission them. I think that this assumption is wrong. In this age of the internet it has never been easier for artists to publicize their work. The reality is that there are very few good artists out there, most (not all) of these are trained iconographers and they are already generally known. Furthermore, the vacuum is so great, that anyone who really is any good will be noticed very quickly. So, when the call goes out for submissions and the art comes in, there are usually just a handful of good pieces but not enough for a whole exhibition and the organizers are forced to display much mediocrity just to fill the wall space. The overall, general impression for those who attend is that while the publicity speaks of a return to the values of timeless beauty produced by skillful artisans, they don’t see it in the works on display. In the end art is a good as it looks, and people know what they are seeing. (Read More)