Monday, August 20, 2012

"This Life Is The One That Counts"...

Well, at least, it got me thinking!
During our 40th anniversary, my wife and I visited our hometown New Orleans and visited places we, nowadays, barely know exist... like City Park and NOMA. As an artist, I really don't visit enough gallery openings or visit shows and exhibitions as I should probably because I go into those events with preconceived ideas of what it should be. But, we were intrigued by the opening show of paintings and sketches of legendary chef, Leah Chase, who really is an icon of New Orleans as well as a reknown Katrina survivor and the owner of the restaurant "Dooky Chase's." The show was quite interesting in that it was of paintings done rather small in oil on wood. I don't believe any of the illustrations were any bigger than 8x10 inches. The painter, Gustav Blache, spent a year or so in Leah's kitchen documenting her daily routine of food preparations, cooking, greeting customers and sharing good times. I believe, this visual story started a couple of years after the hurricane wrecked Leah and her husband's long time establishment at the foot of Orleans Avenue.

But there was so much more to see since it's been such a long time between visits.  NOMA has quite a few famous paintings in its possession and I spent much time studying the brushstrokes of a large Singer Sargent portrait, but I was struck by the above "painting" and its subhead. I had to, later, look up the exact definition of the word, Theodicy, which is loosely defined as," the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil.

Gottfried Leibniz, a German philosopher, coined the term 'theodicy' in an attempt to justify God's existence in light of the apparent imperfections of the world. You know, trying to explain why Beelzebub exists and why he is around every corner creating mischief.

Anyway, the subhead,"This Life Is The One That Counts" really struck home with me because it so capsulizes for me how I have attempted to live my life. I seem to not dwell, or even acknowledge, any after life, a subject which seems now to abound amongst all my aged friends. Being raised Catholic, I often wondered why I have never really embraced any or all of the tenets a good, God-fearing, French Catholic from New Orleans should.

Or any faith, for that matter.

 But this artist, and I don't even know his name to give him his credit, said, in one visual, all I have struggled to define in my life and the way I live it. Just keep reminding myself and feeling good about the discovery that, "This Life Is The One That Counts" and everything else should fall into place.

I love it, you know, no sermons, no philosophical diatribes, no self help pamphlets or books, no religious icons, confusing trinkets, talismans or mojos and no large, small printed books and missals to make the sign of the cross over.

I kinda like that...

Maybe I should spend more time in galleries... amongst the art!

Copyright 2012/ Ben Bensen III

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