Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Fine Mess

[P.S. Bink sent me this note after I posted this: "Click here for the WCCO Web page that shows me putting up the Pentecost banner. I'm actually in 3 pictures toward the end of their slide show. It's kind of fun...but the photos are really disappointing... I mean we amateuers could take better photos...and have!"

And Fresca replies: Plus they missed the best part: the whole thing crashing down!]

For Easter this year, I helped artist-in-residence Bink (pictured here) create banners for the Basilica.

We spent a day gluing Chinese joss paper into four panels to hang in each corner of the church.
It was more of a chore because a lot of the paper we had to use had mistakenly been thrown out, so it was all crumpled. (Not like pictured here, which was new stuff.)

The crinkled paper ended up making the panels much more textural. Once in place in the church, they caught and reflected the light better too.

The double-sided panels were somewhat like the fabric Romulans use to make uniforms for starship personnel.

Here (below) are two of them in place.
They hang from iron beams that raise and lower on electric winches. The gold paper twists in the air currents.

I was such a champion gluer, Bink asked me to help create the installation for the center of the church for Pentecost this Sunday, May 11.

I said yes. Because I love Bink.

Pentecost is from the Greek for "fiftieth day." Christians celebrate it 7 weeks after Easter Sunday.

Bink designed a giant joss-paper construction that would hang from these iron circles (below).

Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the followers of Jesus, recorded in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts.

The descent of the Spirit is described:
"And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them."
--Acts 2-3
So Bink wanted this center hanging to be like flame coming down.
Here I am, below, gluing on more tongues of fire.

Every so often, Bink would go and raise the iron circle-frame with a remote control thingy.
We each worked six-plus hours on the first day.

At the end of the 2nd day, we were almost done.
When Bink raised the huge paper cone, the winch jerked sharply, and one of the supporting paper arms ripped off the frame.

I stepped into the center of the piece, to help fold the bottom inwards as Bink lowered the frame back down so she could reattach the ripped arm.

"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were...."
--Acts 2:2, describing the events of the original Pentecost

The whole thing ripped off the frame and came crashing down around me.

There came laughter from the tabernacle.
Was it Jesus? No, it was Ryan, arranging the altar flowers (below).

"And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
--Acts 2:4
Indeed, we uttered words we do not usually use.

…Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
--Acts 2:12

Bink said that if she were twenty, she would have been in despair. But, middle-aged and used to art disasters, she just sighed and started to repair the thing. This time we reinforced the arms with more paper, glue, and pins.

Lo and behold, when the thing went up, the arms held.
And the formerly straight-sided cone had gained a wonderful organic look, much more like fire!

Bink said she liked it much better, and it also matches the original panels with their crinkled look better.

And Mary looked down from the top of the baldacchino (below) and thought,
"Slam dunk!"


bink said...

This is a great piece of reporting...I LOVE the way you've used the bible quotes. For the record, however, not one unmentionable word crossed my lips when it fell. Watching it all fall from a distance was so spectacular it didn't even inspire swear words. Actually I laughed right along with even saying I went back to working on it with "a sigh" feels too strong. It was such a delightful mess I couldn't be unhappy...I was saving that feeling for if it truely became unsalvageable.

fresca said...

I'm glad you like it!

You're right--I spoke journalistically to say you "sighed" (i.e. I lied)--in fact, you were remarkably calm!
It was I who swore, but only to myself, because there were some people praying in the pews, and I thought they might not appreciate a "Jesus-Fucking-Christ" type of interruption.

I was delighted too how much the sciptural references fit our experience.

This was, um, not exactly fun, but worthwhile. I'm glad I got to be part of it--thanks, Bink!
But next year, you're on your own.

bink said...

I do want to say that your help was invaluable! You were a real trooper to put up with the long slog of creation...and then come back for more the second day! You are a fabulous creator in your own right...thanks SO MUCH for helping me out.

Anonymous said...

Both of you are REMARKABLE!!!!! I think the photos and the incredible hanging pieces are awesome. Then I went to the WCCO link and watched the slide show. I think (whatshisname) missed the whole point. God! He should have begged Fresca for her essay & photos. Example of boredom: taking a picture of the CHAIRS!!! when this beautiful hanging creation is just beyond the chairs. And beyond him!!!

Bink, you should be famous any moment now...Fresca, your posts ought to be published and you should be making $100 an hour.

ddip said...

I agree about the reporting. And Bink's piece is gorgeous--it says "light!"

poodletail said...

At the Basilica and every other corner of life I take so much for granted! Thanks for telling this story of the installation of Pentecost 2008 banners.

fresca said...

I think Church just wasn't the WCCO's guy thing--he did about as well as I'd do covering the weather!

Anyway, I'm glad you all liked seeing behind the scenes. It was really great to document it.

Poodle, I bet most people this weekend will have NO idea what all went into the creation of this thing above their heads! But you will be in the know. : )

momo said...

A gorgeous thing! and this goes well with your post about knitting, unraveling and reknitting that sweater.

fresca said...

Momo: That was unplanned--of course! --but after the whole thing came down, I did think, Hey! This fits my series about mistakes!

bink said...

Oh, you don't think I planned that artful crashing down of creation...?

lovestowearhats said...

so where do you find joss paper???? I've been hunting it for ages! I'm in East Texas. Maybe that's why? haha

fresca said...

Hi, Loves to Wear Hats!
The church office ordered joss paper in bulk from the company whose name is on the box in the second photo down:
Exclusive Imports
Kingsway Trading Inc.
Brooklyn, New York

That's all the info I have... Good luck!