Bob Baker, “Patmos” (2012)

6 Mar

Bob Baker, Patmos (2012)

Note: click on the image to enlarge

Here’s my latest, and there’s a story behind it.  I subscribe to a quarterly journal called Image, which is devoted to faith and spirituality in the arts.  The Summer 2011 issue featured a very interesting essay by Michael McGregor entitled A Gyroscope on the Island of Love, about McGregor’s long-time friendship with minimalist poet Robert Lax, who spent many years of his life on the tiny Greek island of Patmos.  In Lax’s best known work, The Circus of the Sun, he compares  creation to a traveling circus.

If you’ve read Thomas Merton’s autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain you know that Lax was a close friend of Merton at Columbia University.  In one of the book’s most famous scenes, Lax asks Merton what he wants to be and Merton says he wants to be a good Catholic.  “No,” Lax replies, “what you should say is that you want to be a saint.”  Lax later became a magazine editor and friend of writer Jack Kerouac before dropping out to write poetry full time on Patmos.

It was on Patmos, McGregor writes,  that Lax “honed his poetic approach and found a lifestyle to match it . . .  .  Living among poor Greek fishermen and sponge divers had freed him from the American obsession with money, the expectations of editors and writer friends, and the need to maintain anything anyone might call a career.  It had allowed him to write and live as he wanted to live — a life of what he called pure act among people he saw living that way naturally.”

As McGregor notes, anyone who has read the Book of Revelation has read about Patmos.  “I was on the island called Patmos,” John writes in Chapter 1, “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, ‘Write in a book what you see . . . . ‘”   Patmos has for centuries been home to the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John.

So you can see why I had to paint Patmos: a beautiful island, home to a famous minimalist poet, an important biblical spot with an ancient monastery.  With my predilections Patmos was irresistible!  Hope you like the painting.

2 Responses to “Bob Baker, “Patmos” (2012)”

  1. Mark March 6, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    Nice work, Robert, and an interesting subject. Road trip to Patmos?

    • bobbalouie March 8, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

      I would seriously consider it. The airfare is high, but I was looking at accommodations and the prices aren’t bad at all. What a great place.

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