The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi Library, and Gnostic Gospels.

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A little over a week ago I went to the Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake to see their exhibit, the Dead Sea Scrolls. I was excited for the show but put it off until January because I wanted to avoid what I thought might be a Holiday rush. I’ve always liked learning about the history of the Scrolls and probably read my first book on them when I was still in high-school. Seems like I’ve also always been a geek about archaeology, anthropology, and art history. My interest in the Scrolls has never really faded, and since those younger days I’ve gone on and read a number of different books about the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, and other Gnostic Gospels. I guess I probably started with reading the work of Elaine Pagels, but then went on to read a lot more, including individual books like the Book of Enoch, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Judas, The Thunder Perfect Mind,  and more. I’ve probably mentioned here on ArtDuh before that I am not religious, but there is something about this history and Gnostic teachings that really interests and speaks to me. As a general rule, these books interest me a whole lot more than scripture that was approved by the Council of Nicaea.

The show itself was put together very well and I am glad I went. I guess it’ll probably sound like a slight criticism, but there was a whole lot more pottery than there were parchments. Still, I know that the pottery itself plays a huge role in the Dead Sea Scroll’s history, because the pottery was filled with these documents and then hidden in caves. And I guess if it weren’t for that pottery the Scrolls would never have been discovered, because it was the sound of a breaking pot that attracted a shepherd’s interest after he threw a rock into one of those caves.

Maybe a little off topic, although somewhat related (at least in my own mind), but if you’re interested in this subject I would strongly recommend learning about the Nag Hammadi find as well. Both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi were discovered around the same time, but the Nag Hammadi writings were discovered inside a sealed jar in Upper Egypt in 1945. It is just so interesting to see what made it into the “official” Bible, and what what suppressed (often violently) by the Holy Roman Church. It makes me wonder why some of these beautiful apocryphal books were excluded… although I can make a good guess.

Also off topic, but I would definitely recommend that everybody become familiar with the myth of Sophia because it central to a lot of Gnostic thought. It is also one of my favorite myths. Something about the story speaks to me and is so beautiful. There are probably quite a few books written about it, but two of my favorite would be “Not In His Image” by John Lamb Lash, and also the “Corpus Gnostica” by Brent Paris. Corpus Gnostica is a modern and fictional retelling of the story, but I really liked it!

Also, if you have any interest in Gnosticism, you might like the Aeon Byte podcast.

Amen!

www.theleonardo.org

gnosis.org

Under African Skies

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It’s hard to believe that Paul Simon released his album “Graceland” over 25 years ago. Crazy, but true… That album has and will always be one of my favorites, just like Paul Simon will always be one of my favorite musicians.

I saw that there was a documentary called ‘Under African Skies” coming out about the making of the album a while back, and have looked for it off and on since. I’ve wanted to buy it on Amazon, iTunes and tried to find it on NetFlix. Not available (Well, I guess Amazon had this on BluRay, but I don’t have a BluRay player. If I can’t stream, I guess I don’t watch). Then this last week I saw it was on Hulu Plus. Well, I’ve never had a Hulu account, but I wanted to see the documentary and signed up.

I enjoyed the documentary and thought I’d post about it here. People who were around when that album came out probably remember the controversy that surrounded it. Back then, South Africa was in Apartheid hell, and there were all sorts of boycotts against that nation. One of those boycotts included Artists Against Apartheid, which strongly discouraged musicians from visiting, recording, or touring with South African musicians. Paul Simon seemed to think that it would be more productive to go to South Africa and record his new album “Graceland” in a South African Studio with South African musicians. Then he went on tour with those musicians in support of that album. I can see both sides of the controversy, Apartheid was an incredibly ugly thing, but I personally am glad Paul Simon chose to do what he thought was right. “Graceland” is a gem! And if you like the album, I’d definitely recommend you watch this documentary too.

www.pbs.org | preview

www.hulu.com | watch

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Mount Nemrut

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Another cool ancient burial site is Mount Nemrut. This is thought to be where King Antiochus I was buried. He was a Greek King and the statues at the site show the Greek and Persian gods of his ancestors.

I love looking at photos of this site. I want to have them here on ArtDuh so I can look at them whenever I like. I find old and weathered sculptures where you can see the passage of time to be so beautiful. The sculptures from this particular site are amazing. When I look at them that line from T S Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men comes to mind…

Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

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Under Pressure

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Roy Lichtenstein’s Bulls
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Ellen Gallagher

I saw “Under Pressure” up at the UMFA this last week, and you can see it too if you hurry. This show features prints from some pretty damn good artists like Chuck Close, Kiki Smith, and Jasper Johns. My favorites were probably Roy Lichtenstein‘s reproductions of Picasso’s Bull series… but maybe that’s because I love Picasso’s artwork best always, even if it is Lichtenstein re-imagining his work. There were also some other prints where the artist Ellen Gallagher made these cool collages and then put some sort of clay or something and paint on top of the print to add texture. A very cool effect! Oh, and Robert Indiana‘s recreation of Demuth‘s painting “I Saw The Figure 5 In Gold“. I don’t know why, but I’ve always really liked that Figure 5 painting! Something about it…

Unfortunately, I can’t say it was all good, but the good was great to see 🙂 There were a few pieces that I really didn’t like all that much, but all in all, the good outweighed the bad for sure. Even though that is probably a shitty sales pitch, I’d still recommend the show, and you’ve still got time to see it if you head up there now!

umfa.utah.edu

Chuck Kiki
 Chuck Close Kiki Smith
Fig5 Johns
Robert Indiana Jasper Johns

The Dragon Walks The Earth

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“The Dragon Walks The Earth” – Todd Powelson

Here is another new Dragon drawing I just finished. A new Dragon for the New Year!

Called “The Dragon Walks The Earth”, I made this on my Surface Pro using Illustrator CC. Click the pic to see a larger view 🙂