I KNEW I should have gone with The Sinner’s Guide to Amish Vampires in Space.

I was having lots of fun scrolling through this list of Worst Christian Book Covers of 2013.  A couple of favorites:

and this:

and of course this, which should win all the prizes ever, for everything, but most of all for the most courageous use of “spray paint” tool in a professional setting:

 

“Most intelligently designed” indeed.

But then I got to #7 on the list of Worst Christian Book Covers of 2013, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but A COVER THAT LOOKS VERY, VERY FAMILIAR:

A sign your priest may be WAY too involved in your sex life.
#ConfessionalFetish(Submitted by Kimberly Roth)HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!  Oh man.  I’m on a list, I’m on a list!  Thanks, Kimberly Roth, whoever you are.  I submit, for your discering eyes, the mockup for my next book, coming out  some time in 2015:

About the cover art for SGNFP

My beloved cover

was done by the immensely talented John Herreid, who is a graphic artist for Ignatius Press.  (He also happens to be my sister’s husband’s brother, and he made the cover for me as a gift!)

Check out John’s latest blog post for Ignatius Press Novels, where he describes a few of the ingenious processes he used

while lovingly creating some of his favorite book covers.  So cool.

Gaudi and the Highlander Principle

Happy birthday to Atoni Gaudi, the mad builder of Barcelona.  When I was visiting my sister when she lived there, we toured La Sagrada Familia, which he started in 1883 and which is still unfinished.  Gaudi’s trademark style is the “sandcastle” look and feel

with mind-bending curves and Seussian angles

with bright colors and unexpected juxtapositions of heavy geometric shapes.  I don’t actually know what the conventional wisdom is about Gaudi’s architecture, especially La Sagrada Familia.  Do traditionally-minded folks recoil in horror, because it’s so . . . well, gaudy?

and really does look like some insane person built a sandcastle and then enlarged it and painted it with Prang Tempras?  Or do people easily recognize that his stuff, while weird and disorienting, is architecturally brilliant, and transmits a sensation of giddiness and exaltation?

Maybe it’s easier to tell in person how fantastic it is.  I always wonder about that, when I see pictures of some ucky new church or piece of sculpture that the Catholic internet hates.  Architecture is, after all, designed to be seen in person, in the actual light and from the actual perspective of someone who’s actually there, and photos don’t necessarily catch anything of that experience.

On the other hand, Gaudi falls under the Highlander Principle of art:  there can be only one.  It was really great one time.  But that’s it!  One guy can get away with it!  No more!  The same goes for Jackson Pollock, John Cage, and, in a way, G. M. Hopkins.  You love the experience, but you don’t necessarily want any imitators or influencees.

What do you think of Gaudi?  Have you seen his stuff in person?

Happy birthday, Ezra Jack Keats!

If you can believe it, his very first book was the exquisite The Snowy Day

I love the sense of quiet alertness conveyed with those blocks of color,

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love that giant Mama,

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love the simple portraits of the little sorrows and the great joys of childhood.

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This was one of the first children’s books about a black kid.

More seasonable, another of my favorites illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats is Over in the Meadow:

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My favorite counting song, so cozy and satisfying, and the pictures are intense and unforgettable.

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Happy birthday, Ezra Jack Keats!   Thanks for all the colors.

More hope for religious art

Elizabeth Scalia posted a link (on Facebook, not on her blog — but she always has tons of good stuff, so check it out!) to this sculpture of the Annunciation, by John Collier:

(photo source:  The Deacon’s Bench)

I know it’s just about impossible to make a judgment based on a photo, but what do you think?  My first thought was that it made reference to the statue of Apollo and Daphne by Bernini:

(photo source)

The artist seems to be stressing the significance of the fig tree.  Intstresting, no?  I prefer the one true God’s means of preserving his faithful daughter’s virginity!  I also thought the face of Mary in the first sculpture hearkened to the  Ecstasy of St. Theresa, also by Bernini.

The Last Angel

I deliberately made this image too small so you’d have to click on this link to see it bigger!

My brother Joe Prever, who recently started writing for Catholic Phoenix, pointed me in the direction of the artist, Nicholas Roerich, a Russian painter of the early 20th century.  A fascinating guy with varied interests, he did a number of religious paintings.  I’m always on the look-out for new religious art, just to reassure myself that you can combine theology with modernity and come out with something other than the standard issue “my hands are bananas” clip art:

(image source)

I mean, there’s nothing terribly wrong with this kind of picture, except for its pernicious ability to teach bored children flipping through the missalette that religion is for, you know, neanderthals.  Duhhh.   What’s the deal with that, anyway?  Why did 20th century art start showing modern men looking like stodgy, doughy, immobile cave men, while actual cave men were painting elegant, funny, snappy portraits?

(image source)

Why, huh?

Now the original picture again:

Oh, you can’t see that — you better click on the link.  It’s called “The Last Angel.”  I’m trying to wake up the art part of my brain after a long, long sleep, so be patient with me.

Part of what makes this picture so alarming is the aggressive combination of different styles, isn’t it?  The flowers in the foreground are almost primitive, the mountains in the background are Chinese, and those wild, roiling clouds are something like a combination of Cezanne and Rouault.

But the city, the flames, and of course the angel have the flat perspective, the brushwork, and the stylization of a Russian ikon.  The contrast tells you what is going on here:  something really different, SLAMMING into the world.  Days of wrath.  I don’t think this one is saying “Be not afraid.”

Or, as I saw it phrased on a bumper sticker once:  Angels are just teddy bears with wings.