On February 1, a group of St Luke members and friends had a glimpse of the religious life of 14th century Italy without leaving home. Led by Cal State LA art historian, Dr Paul Anderson, we visited the Getty for an exhibition, “Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance.” We viewed an extraordinary group of paintings and illuminated (illustrated) manuscripts by Giotto and other master painters, art which showed the beginnings of naturalism and perspective that culminated in the work of Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Here we see the consecration of art and beauty to the enhancement of the worship experience. Pictures of the Madonna and Child, the Crucifixion, Christ and the Saints, scenes from the Bible, were painted on single panels of wood, on triptychs (3 panels) and polyptychs (5 panels), art which had once adorned church and chapel altars in 14th century Italy. In an age of illiteracy when the Bible was written in Latin, these paintings and manuscripts visually presented the religious figures and central stories of Christianity and their beauty called the faithful to devotion. A rich feast of gold leaf, lapis lazuli blue, carmine red, their visual glory lifted the spirits and invited the worshipper to turn from the mundane and seek God.
And, my spirits were most definitely lifted after viewing this world-class exhibit, with a panoramic view of the Santa Monica Bay providing a spectacular outdoor backdrop. Dr. Anderson’s enthusiasm for his subject was contagious and his seemingly encyclopedic knowledge added immensely to our enjoyment. Our group actually picked up quite a few eavesdroppers as we moved through the exhibit. One grew so bold as to loudly demand Dr. Andersen speak up as she could not hear him. Perhaps, Pastor, you missed your chance to do a little proselytizing there. We could have handed out St Luke flyers. As we were carpooling, we also had fellowship, and an illuminating time (deplorable pun) was had by all. Many thanks to Dr. Anderson and Pastor.