Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Our Lady of Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral -  Paris 2007
photo by author

Our Lady of Paris
by Gregory E. Larson

          Shock. Sadness. A sense of loss.
          Multiple emotions flooded over me yesterday as I stood in front of the television, aghast at the scene unfolding at Notre Dame in Paris. A conflagration of epic proportions was out of control at the heart of the cathedral. Where were the pumps? Where were the standpipes with hoses and nozzles at strategic locations?
          I have no answers.
          My thoughts went back to my teenage years of the 1960s in Western Kansas. My interest in architecture had taken root and I adopted Notre Dame as my personal symbol of Western Civilization. At that time, it seemed to me that the cathedral was the perfect building in the perfect city. The edifice was situated at the east end of the Isle de la Cité and appeared to have naturally grown out of the ground on the banks of the river Seine. Yet it seemed light years away from the sparsely populated plains of Kansas. I vowed to make a visit, and pay homage to Our Lady.
          Forty years later, on a Sunday morning in June, I fought off the jet lag while I stood in the verdant park on the east side of Notre Dame. I could hear strains of the organ playing inside the cathedral during an early mass. Our Lady didn’t disappoint me. She looked more elegant in person than in all the photos I had seen. I walked out of the warm, sunny morning and into the dark interior, and was amazed the public was allowed to walk the perimeter of the sanctuary while the morning mass was underway.
          The next day, I was compelled to take the tour of the exterior, which included a climb up the bell towers and a walk along the parapets. The views of the cathedral and the surrounding city made my heart sing. Far below the gargoyles were cars, motor scooters, busses, tour boats, and sidewalk cafés, all full of tourists and locals moving about on a Monday morning. My pilgrimage was complete. No doubt — this was the heart of Paris and my heart was so close to this symbol of Western Civilization. Our Lady held me in her arms.
          Even on the rooftop, the cathedral was chock full of stone carvings, copper statues, and artistic details. Grotesque and mythic creatures leaned from the edges to ward off the evil spirits. An angel stood at the peak of nave’s gable, blowing a horn of stone.
          Just before climbing the countless steps back to the ground, our tour guide let us inside the top of the south belfry to see the large bell that was a key element in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
          Those memories are significant now that most of what I saw that day is gone.
          Our Lady was more vulnerable than anyone imagined. A tinderbox waiting for a spark. I hope they rebuild her, although it will never be the same.
          Shock. Sadness. A sense of loss.

Author's note: All of the photos shown below are ones that I took during the tour of the bell towers in June 2007.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Thank You, and announcement of online gallery

by Gregory E. Larson

          What a joyful evening it was at the art exhibit and reception on Friday evening. I was so grateful and humbled to see the large number of people turn out to see the artwork. My goal is to create art that makes people happy, and it was fun to see so many happy people.
          For those of you in the Kansas City area, the exhibit will hang through March and April, so you are welcome to go see it during church hours at:
St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church 
6630 Nall Ave., 
Mission, KS 66202
          If my schedule is open, I would be glad to meet you there. Also, I have an online gallery with all of the artwork, and with a few paragraphs that I’ve written for each painting which describe where the scene is located and what struck me as interesting, and what caused me to want to paint it. 
          For those of you who live far away, and those who just want to view the artwork, the online gallery website is:
          I’ll send updates in the future that direct you to new paintings in the online gallery, and some months when I write the typical magazine-style articles, I’ll direct you the website you are on now (www.aroundthebend-greg.blogspot.com). Thanks again for your interest and support for both the blog articles and the artwork. I thank each and every one of you.
          Here’s an example of a couple of the online gallery selections:
Doorway and Steps
2018 watercolor by Gregory E. Larson

          This little town along the Ohio River in Indiana has one of the largest historical districts in the U.S. (approximately 1.5 miles long and .5 mile wide).
          I spent three days in town, enough time to get acquainted with it, viewing the architectural styles and details. It was a tough job to visit the coffee shops and diners, but somebody had to do it. 
          One morning I parked the car on a side street and began walking to the main thoroughfare. The stairs and doorway stopped me in my tracks and I took a picture of it.
          Back in the studio, I became intrigued with the wrought iron benches, realizing that this river town had a lot of wealth in the 1850s. Town homes didn’t just have railings on the steps, they had elegant benches.
          The architectural details, down to the bricks pushed me to the limit on my patience while painting. The most difficult part was painting the portion of the black bench that overlapped the black door. I added the flag for some interest and balance, but the focus of this painting is on the steps and doorway.
* * *
2018 watercolor by Gregory E. Larson

          The three-bushel galvanized tub came from an antique store in Alma, Kansas. I purchased it the moment I saw it on a Sunday afternoon while driving in the Flint Hills. It was the perfect container for keeping firewood dry in the garage before burning the logs in the fireplace on Friday and Saturday nights. 
          Add an oriental rug, kindling wood, and some tan rubber tile and concrete, and the outcome is a mixture of cool and warm browns, greens and grays with some deep shadows.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Greg's Announcement of Upcoming Art Exhibit


Watercolors by
Gregory E. Larson

Sicilian Fishing Boat
by Gregory E. Larson

MARCH 1, 2019
5:00 - 8:00 PM
Sponsored by Horizon Arts Ministry

6630 NALL AVE.

Friends and Readers,

I have been busy creating watercolors and have twenty-four that I will show at the exhibit mentioned above. I welcome you to come and browse, so that I can share the joy and fascination I have in creating them. There is a story behind every painting. Most of them are landscapes of locations that I have visited in Europe and North America.

I look forward to seeing you on March 1st!