"Beauty Outlives Everything" T.C. Steele
I hope you have had a chance to enjoy grounds and residence of artist T.C. Steele at the Historic Site down south of the village of Belmont in Brown county. That is about half way between Nashville and Bloomington on SR46. Steele built his home and soon after the art studio there in 1907--died there in the summer of 1926. A fascinating man, his life has be an attraction to me ever since I was introduced to him when reading The House of the Singing Winds several years ago. Artists help us see things we don't usually notice. Steele connects with me. He was drawn to nature...was especially talented with color and shading and the use of light. He appreciated the beauty of southern Indiana. My very favorite work of his is one with chickens wandering around the yard. It may be one of the reasons Ii have a few myself. They are fun to observe... and those fresh eggs are just an added bonus.
Two weekends ago, I enjoyed two sessions of " art play" in the barn studio of Steele. There were about 15 of us.. in varying degrees of talent and experience... learning how to paint a water color portrait. I was undoubtedly on the low edge of experience and talent... never having had a water color brush in my had since my days in Miss Murphy's ( later Mrs. George Carlisle...Janet) art classes at Newby some six decades ago. That did not discourage me and I had a delightful time splashing color around.. attempting to paint a portrait of my grandson Keegan. I keep trying to find time to do more...learn more. I did buy some books at half priced books last week...and enjoy poking through them. But I must just put aside the "must do's" and return to that pleasing side of our nature..the "play time" and grab a brush and a pallet.
One of the fun parts of my teaching days was taking students on a field trip to Nashville. I called it the "Good , Bad and the Ugly" trip. The "bad" was a visit to the Dillinger Museum where the students poked around with Joe Pinkston's collection of Dillinger memorabilia. I found it interesting that on one issue of the Mooresville Times that was framed so the visitors could read a story about Dillinger, there was a short local clip about something my Uncle Merrill Davee had done..one of those little hometown newsy things that papers wrote about in those days. We then would go to the Steele site, look at the artwork and then I would end our trip with a walk down the hill behind the house to the place where Steele is buried. I wanted the students to consider...to reflect on his epitaph-- "Beauty Outlives Everything."
Think about that yourself. Think about what remains for the ages... the music, the art..the lives....the beautiful endures.
Now I know that some might take take exception to Mr. Steele's thought..point out that the ugly endures very well....the Hitlers... the notorious be they Jesse James or John Dillinger.... the wars....9-11 and the other day that will live in infamy. These may be reflected by some in our understandings of Heaven and Hell. But I will throw my lot with beauty and T.C. Steele. Is not the greatest beauty , love? Paul thought it so....wrote to the Corinthians "...but now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Yes, Mr. Steele, "Beauty Outlives Everything." It abides.
Don...Sunday morning.... 2/12/2012