Paul’s Mission

There was an epiphany.

It happened in art history class, in my junior year of high school, when I realized something was terribly wrong with modernity. The sequence of images in that textbook told the tale. 20th-century art, unlike almost all art that came before it, reveled in ugliness and chaos — or, on the flip side of the same coin, cold antiseptic minimalism. Whereas my classmates saw edginess and hipness in modern art, I sensed a cry for help from a neurotic century. A cry for me to help. To help right the ship and restore beauty to art.

There was an epiphany.

It happened in art history class, in my junior year of high school, when I realized something was terribly wrong with modernity. The sequence of images in that textbook told the tale. 20th-century art, unlike almost all art that came before it, reveled in ugliness and chaos — or, on the flip side of the same coin, cold antiseptic minimalism. Whereas my classmates saw edginess and hipness in modern art, I sensed a cry for help from a neurotic century. A cry for me to help. To help right the ship and restore beauty to art.

If that sounds grandiose, well, all young artists are grandiose, or should be. I’ve since mellowed out somewhat.

Now I can walk into a Frank Lloyd Wright house and relish the harmonious aesthetics. Now I can listen to a wry Steely Dan song and admire it as much as a flamboyant Handel aria. Now I can stare into a Rothko painting and be thinking of Emily Dickinson’s “The Tint I cannot take — is best.” Now I can watch a pretentious French New Wave film and kind of, sort of enjoy it. Sort of.

And yet…the anti-modern fanatic within me is not quite extinguished. It’s still there, burning small but constant. A pilot light.

I still believe that modernity is at war with human meaning. And I still believe that meaning comes from an ancient and fixed set of things. Family. Friendship. Eros. Local community. Spirituality. Mother Nature. And artistic beauty. (And dogs! Don’t forget dogs.) We’re not a free-floating amorphous species. We’re not ideas or machines. We’re animals, primates anchored by certain profound needs, and we suffer when those needs are not met. And those needs are not being met by the increasingly bizarre and detached un-reality that we live in today.

I once had grandiose, utopian dreams. As young men do. Now I’m just doing what I can to help.

And what I can do is offer you my poetry, musings, and nature photography. I hope you will derive meaning from them.

The world needs more beauty. To introduce more beauty into the world is…

…my mission.