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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why is Martin Luther Everywhere?

Me and Michael like Kate and Martin painted by Cranach
It seems everyday I open a magazine and see a reference to him, or in crowds and on the radio I hear someone speaking who refers to the brave outspoken instigator of the fifteenth century Reformation period. Politicians are mockingly illustrated in his monk robes, statues are built of his wife (a runaway nun), and all around I hear the hammering of nails to the establishment's doors. There could be comparisons of our own election-year cultural minefield of insiders and outsiders, politicians, the 1%, and talk show hosts to the medieval German theologian's times, of the serfs, the splitting papal powers, "table talks" and the rising land-grabbing nobility.

Luther studied to be a lawyer but had a sudden transformational calling to become an Augustinian monk. This did not please his parents, and soon became a problem for the church. He protested the "money changers in the temple", the selling of indulgences, as a misplaced moral commerce. As he called for a reformation of the Catholic church he also published at least 100 different pamphlets calling for political and social changes. He was very influential in unifying the German language with his translation of the New Testament into the common language of the people, (which he did, in 1521, in defiance while excommunicated from Rome!)
Luther broke down walls. He called for a more personal relationship with God and a humanist approach to life that encouraged women in convents to re-enter life in the communities. His own wife, Kate, snuck out of her convent with 6 other nuns, in the empty herring barrels delivered by a disguised priest named James Strauss. Twenty years younger than Martin Luther, Kate birthed 6 children and raised many more in their busy house. Luther's famous "table talks" supported social change that touched on sexual pleasure in the marriage bed and on financing local government through interest bearing loans. He supported usury, (charging interest), claiming that while no one could assume the faith of another, the risk of lending money could be real, and therefor the biblical injunction against it could be ignored. Gods law and the peoples law could be different.
Luther initially encouraged the Peasants War (1524-26) which he later had to condemn. The violence killed over 100,000 people and losses to libraries and architectural treasures was astounding. As the violence was quelled, The Reformation became less of a people's movement and more of a power surge for the nobility and local governments.

Are we in a similar time of change? People are yelling. Religious freedom feels shaky. The separation of the spiritual domain from our nationalist/capitalist ideology is murky. Corporations gain "person hood" with moral rights, and yet bear none of the blame for a shrinking integrity in the public sphere. Women lose rights of their womb to judicial gerrymandering. Wall street forecloses on the peasant and declares profits for the stakeholders.

The above painting is of myself and Michael as a twin to the painting of Kate and Martin, painted by a distant great (x15) grandfather, the amazing artist Lucas Cranach.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Unruly Mystic, Waiting like a box of chocolates

Still in the wrapper!
This movie, directed by my college buddy and life long friend, Michael Conti promises to lift me out of my routine, ...my self.
 Its about Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval visionary...a woman...a writer...a composer.. a polymath considered by some to be one of the most important (and controversial) figures of the Middle ages.

I'm waiting for an evening when I get home from work early enough to curl up with my lover and a bowl of popcorn... a real treat ... Maybe this Thursday?
Watch this trailer: The Unruly Mystic
Michael is a true artist. He works magic. Years ago, while visiting me on our chicken farm he made a fun film about chickens and art...a link is on my website.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm a working girl again

At the end of the day my plants make good company.   #gratitudelist



Saturday, August 13, 2016

The well is full

Like this giant dusty tap in the Sacramento sky, I am poised for the school season to start again. Reporting back to my class room in Miami last week, I truly had returned home from 7 weeks of family gatherings and solo studio work. (Teachers are so lucky to get summer off)

Sorry about dropping the blog this summer. There was so much going on in my head and so much writing for my newest project that I didn't have the words left over to share. I started an Instagram account!!! If you are on it too, look for me as Tilly Strauss. It's perfect for sharing pictures with less commentary.

It was a great summer. I did work that I am very excited about... but can't share yet. Through a serendipitous meeting of friends and old books I have gathered fodder to fuel the passion that got me into teaching in the first place. My goal right now is to be the best teacher I can be. I will be teaching 2 painting, 2 drawing, an art history and an AP studio class. The schedule leave little room for much else.

Time to turn on the tap!