From medieval icons to Chagall's "White Crucifixion," from Bernini to Dali, our friend Gary Toops took 25 St. John's art lovers on a 1600-year sacred art walk these Thursday evenings in February. The brain child of Gary and our former associate vicar, the Rev. Karen Ann Wojahn, the class took two years to schedule in part because of Gary's busy schedule as teacher, organist, and community choir director. His and Marjorie Toops' Festival Singers rehearse each Tuesday evening at St. John's (a wonderful soundtrack for our weekly Bible study, which meets a few steps away). Over Memorial Day weekend last year, the Festival Singers and the St. John's Middle School choir, under the direction of my colleague Lori Speciale, appeared at Carnegie Hall, members of a 200-voice choir performing John Rutter's "Mass of the Children."
We'll actually have one more meeting of "Exploring Sacred Art," this Saturday at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Our classroom work ended tonight with Gary's analysis of a work by a local artist, Charles Frazee, professor emeritus of religion and church history at Cal State Fullerton and the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont. In 2009, I acquired this icon which Charlie painted of our church's patron, John Chrysostom, the fifth century archbishop, preacher (hence his Greek sobriquet meaning "golden throat"), and courageous reformer.
The late Walter Annenberg (with whom I actually spoke the very week he bid successfully for "At the Lapin Agile") and the Getty had to reveal what they paid at auction for their Renoirs and van Goghs, but I shan't. That's between Charlie and me, as is the five-point ID question I missed on his final when I was in seminary 13 years ago. I barely remember. Okay, it was the Shepherd of Hermas. The Annenberg name-drop was a compensatory defensive gesture.
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