Marvin Repinski: We live on many levels

Published 6:04 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The reflection that spurs my mind, is a reading by the artist, Martin Arend. He works as an artist in a humble studio in Minneapolis, and is known among various portrayals, for his icons. In a future essay I may write about this fascinating art form, the icon. For the present, I am fascinated by an article written by Mr. Arend.

Please consider with me the following divisions or ways we may embrace the field of painting. We are invited by this painter as follows: “A painting exists on multiple levels. On the aesthetic level, there is an immediacy; it is an object of purely visual impact, of physical appeal. On an intellectual level, art is a form of communication; it can tell stories or pose questions.

Mr. Arend suggests a spiritual level. It may engage both the artist and the viewer in a kind of dialogue. We read: “The visual arts have the capacity to accomplish this in a way that is neither literal nor linear, in a way that is difficult to explain in words. For me, that is the appeal of painting; to approach the sublime.” I’m expending the arts reflected in painting to a large kind of expression, of what I call the humanities.

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This brief analysis certainly opens a “can of worms” or should we say a can of paint or many other substances used by the artist. Many volumes, films, and TV programs, classes, and lectures, have from early history, been both artist (many forms, carving, rubbing, building, shaping, drawing, painting, drama, dance, etc.) and recipient. In thinking of this vast human expression, most of us, like myself, peer in from the edges —  all horizons seem out of our grasp.

In considering levels of art, as Mr. Arend suggests, I use his brief but short-hand view of painting as a metaphor; a pointer to our many-sidedness, as human beings. An example I identify with, is our former president, Jimmy Carter. I especially find the dozens of levels of our lives, in his book “Living Faith.” The following themes based on President Carter’s long life reveal some undergirding foundations for many of us.

A spiritual life: A Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia was an early influence in this man’s foundation. A congregation that lived out of the thoughtful teachings, open-applications of the Bible were and is to the present, the mark of loyalties.

Healing racial conflict: From his days as a child in the era termed the “Great Depression,” the Carter family believed and practiced, “You are welcome at our table and our friends try always to eliminate the color lines.

An admirable public life: He spent a number of years in the Navy and then went on to several elected offices. A sentence from the Carter book brings to the surface the many challenges he had as President. “My primary commitment was to protect American interests while living peacefully with the Soviet Union. If peace-keeping efforts failed, as happened before World Wars I and II, I was prepared to use force if necessary.”

Life on contemplation: Carter quotes “James,” the Biblical letter verses 2:26. James says, “Faith without works is dead — striving for a virtuous life is a worthy goal.”

Viewing the world: Citing one of many examples of practicing a life of enlightened conscience, Carter writes, “God’s world is very large; a world we should always explore, to comprehend the problems of troubled people who may be hungry for what we could offer. It’s like eating peanuts — if we can decide to be adventurous and generous once, it may be hard to stop!”

These are a few of the levels of living that are examples for some of us. We may hear a voice saying, “Try it!” and the voice may be from the thirty-ninth president of the country we love. We care for our country, the United States.