Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Before and After in Peoria?

After boycotting The Wanderer for only a week (maybe it was two weeks), I picked the lastest issue up again today, and I flipped through it for a few minutes. Early in the issue, there's an article suggesting that the architectural disaster that Rochester Bishop Matthew Clark visited upon his Cathedral is having the predictable effect: Mass attendance is dropping, collections are shrinking, and expenses are rising. I'm almost inclined to believe the article, since it was written by Michael Brennan and Mary Strobino Giogi, rather than the news editor who's been so blatantly disengenuous regarding the SSPX side of the latest traditionalist reconciliation attempt, Paul Likoudis.

But anyways, near at the back of the Wanderer there was a note and two photographs of a rennovation performed on St. Mark's Church in Peoria, Illinois. Here's what they did, before and after:

OK I tricked you. Actually, it's not "before and after"; it's "after and before." The church had, at some point, been Cranmerized and turned into the ugly white ghost in the second photo immediately above, but they went back and fixed it.

Yes, the top picture is the "before," and that's a NEW high altar and murals ornamenting the sanctuary. And yes, that was all done just recently. And no, it's not unique; there's a similar project going on in Bishop Jenky's cathedral in Peoria right now.

The pictures above were used without permission from a company called Murals by Jericho which is a liturgical art firm in Peoria. Wow. They do nice work; CLICK HERE to check out their website.

Although I don't know much about art, it looks to me as though the firm's painting is in a Beuronese style, which some people object to because it was a minimalist baby-step towards the modernist disaster in liturgical art. However, why would one object to moving back towards that style, either as a worthy style in itself for our age, or as a big first step back to development of art from more traditional forms? Frankly, Philistine though I am, I do recognize that a new church, even a restoration of a traditional church that has been thoroughly Cranmerized, cannot and should not be an exact copy of a Baroque or Renaissance or Gothic form. The lavish detail and richness of the high point in those schools, while they're a good starting point, shouldn't be the end-all, be-all of today's ecclesiastical art or architecture. They should be carefully preserved where they exist, and lamented where they've been destroyed; and they should be the firm foundation for new art, but we can't simply build replica churches of 400 or even 100 years ago. Doing so is bad taste. The Beuronese style, to this fellow with almost no training in such things, seems to work well in avoiding the temptation to build replicas, while preserving something of the sacred.

Anyways, I've digressed. As for the folks at Murals by Jericho, wow! Three cheers for Bp. Jenky and his pastor at St. Marks, and the folks who are funding that work. I can't imagine they're having much trouble filling the pews in Peoria, like they are in Rochester.


PeoriaIllinoisan said...

Unfortunately, the pictures don't do it justice. The orange carpet really doesn't shine through on the 'before' picture as it should. Boy was it ugly.

I can't say if the 'before/after' photo is what the church really looked like before, but it is certainly beautiful. If you ever make it to the area, be sure to pay it a visit.

Anonymous said...

Using photos without permission is copyright infringement.

Curmudgeon said...

Really? I had no idea! Of course, if the photos are in the public domain, as my own are...I don't recall a copyright notice.

Anyways, if I get a credible cease-and-desist letter, I'll take down the link, the photos, and the nice things I say about Murals by Jericho. I'll also send whomever owns the copyright treble damages--three times the money I've made off the pictures.

In the meantime, I'm leaving them up, along with the link to their website, because they deserve the attention, and because people ought to see what they do--even if they're not in the market for liturgical art or restoration services. It's an uplifting and happy post, and I don't have many of those.

Anonymous said...

I doubt anything comes of it. It's not like you're selling prints or something, but rather giving them some good publicity. Even if there are no copyright notices posted on a web site, the material is still copyright protected. I had to research this area years ago because I assumed anything posted on a web site without a specific copyright was free game. I found out that's not the case. Your photos, even though you don't say it, are copyright protected as are any others posted on the Web.