Saturday Tweets: Mobile Markets, Big Oil and Public Transit Seat Covers

Framing the Frame Blog

Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), Professor Henry Rowland, 1897.

I remember going on a tour of an art museum once when, towards the end of the tour, the docent asked if anyone had any questions. One of the people on the tour, motioned towards the ornate gilded frames and asked about where they came from. The docent grimaced and I could tell that she thought this was a stupid question.

Giovanni Bellini, the Frari Triptych, 1488.

It’s not. It turns out that most artists of the past gave a lot of thought to the frames, often coming up with their own designs or collaborating with highly specialized woodworkers. I know about this though my discovery of a deliriously detailed and meticulously researched jewel of the internet: The Frame Blog. The blog is run by frame historian, Lynn Roberts and has over 45 contributors.

Don’t believe how important frames are? Just look at this post to see what happens when the frames go missing. And Roberts also likes to point out how important it is to include the frames when paintings are reproduced online or in books.

To go meta on this, the post-modernist in me thinks it’s important to look at the frames we put around everything, not just art. And, practically, I’ve been trying to make some of my own frames lately with a table saw jig and Frame Blog has been a source of inspiration (and humility as my frames look like they were made by Fred Flintstone by comparison).

The Frame Blog is one of the few gilded nodes on the internet’s tarnished tubes.

May the Work I’ve Done Speak for Me

Who would guess that a small Episcopal church tucked into an unremarkable residential neighborhood could become such a hopeful example of community building here in Los Angeles? Kelly and I attended a tearful sendoff yesterday for Father Peter Rood whose leadership at Holy Nativity Episcopal Church is an example we should all consider emulating. Fr. Peter is taking a job in Oak Harbor, Washington and LA’s loss is Washington’s gain.

Holy Nativity is in Westchester, a 1950s era suburb of Los Angeles bumped up against LAX, the second busiest airport in the U.S. I grew up in adjacent Culver City, where we used to refer to Westchester as “Deadchester” for it’s unremarkableness, though it’s hard to see how one could consider Culver City to be any more exciting. Like many LA suburbs, Westchester lacks non-commercial gathering spaces. Fr. Peter saw this as an opportunity. He always referred to Holy Nativity as a “community center that just happened to have a church attached to it.”

Over the years he collaborated with Joanne Poyourow of Environmental Changemakers to transform a large unused area of lawn into a community garden. Part of the parking lot became a community bread oven. When the city couldn’t find a location for a child’s playground he offered another large part of the church’s property for that project. He taught regular yoga classes, hosted Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, provided space for music and dance groups and home schoolers, and built a meditation space open to anyone who wanted to use it. Along with Joanne, he generously hosted several book promotion events for us, including lectures, a beer making party and pickling and bread classes. He nurtured deep relationships with other faith traditions and hosted ecumenical lectures and events.

Peter is of the “ask forgiveness not permission” style of leadership. In keeping with this he says “yes” where others might hem and haw and wait to check with the higher ups or fret about insurance. He speaks often of addressing the “low hanging fruit” in our communities, things like planting a garden, mulch and compost. Many years ago he banished paper and plastic plates from the church’s kitchen, installing a commercial dishwasher and accumulating a supply of ceramic and metal utensils. Along with Kelly, he’s also the survivor of a harrowing aortic dissection.

There are a number of lessons to take from Fr. Peter’s example. Faith communities should consider opening their doors to the community and find ways to collaborate especially since many sit empty during the week. It should also be noted that Joanne was never a member of the church and that didn’t matter. Another lesson is for community members: don’t be afraid to approach faith communities with an idea as Joanne did. Some might say no, but many will be happy to help. I’m willing to bet that most won’t proselytize or ask for anything in return. Schools, of course, are another place where this sort of collaboration can happen but faith communities can be more nimble and often have a leadership continuity that stretches back hundreds or even thousands of years. In our time of ecological crisis we might just need to lean on institutions that have this sort of long range perspective.

Rumor has it that the folks in St. Stephens in Oak Harbor are already talking about a community bread oven. If you’re reading this and live in Washington please give Fr. Peter a hug for us. We sure will miss him down here.

For more detail, I recommend listening to this lecture by Fr. Peter explaining the history and approach he took to Holy Nativity’s community collaborations.

Saturday Tweets: Marie Kondo, Vanilla Hummus and Composting People

Choral Evensong This Saturday March 16th at 5pm

The Choir of St. John’s Cathedral will present Solemn Choral Evensong for the season of Lent, featuring music by Buonemani, Howells, Bridge, and Ešenvalds. The Rev. Michael S. Bell, Chaplain to Good Samaritan Hospital, will be the guest homilist. There will be complimentary valet parking starting at 4:30pm, and a warm reception following the service. All are welcome. Historic St. John’s Cathedral is located at 514 West Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles.