A Whole New World

Hello friends! I missed this past week again! Come take a look at this post to see my new job which will get me closer to working on the ‘innerds’ of the New Immaculata!

Old City Hall, Richmond, VA

I took a job working a company that does architectural arts: historic conservation and new artwork for major architectural projects.

2nd floor of Ye Olde City Hall

The Immaculata is one of the those projects.

The job started with me helping at St. Isadore’s Catholic Center in Manhattan, KS, and has now taken me to Richmond VA, and soon back to Kansas to the Immaculata herself!

Yours Truly Woodgraining

Virginia is one of my childhood homes, and my favorite, so it was a joy to be stationed here and to explore new and old childhood haunts.

On the way up to the tower

Now, you may be thinking “Architectural Arts, how cool! You get to do art all day! ”

Well, it is cool, from a certain point of view, but it’s not art in a romantic way! It’s doing techniques on a large-scale that contributes to a beautiful big picture.

In this sort of work, one can become frustrated with the environment, or even the way things are organazied. But I began to find meaning in the work by remembering the story of the stonemasons.

After the great fire of 1666 that leveled London, the world’s most famous architect, Christopher Wren, was commissioned to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral.

One day in 1671, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold, one crouched, one half-standing and one standing tall, working very hard and fast.

To the first bricklayer, Christopher Wren asked the question, “What are you doing?” to which the bricklayer replied, “I’m a bricklayer. I’m working hard laying bricks to feed my family.”

The second bricklayer, responded, “I’m a builder. I’m building a wall.”

But the third brick layer, the most productive of the three and the future leader of the group, when asked the question, “What are you doing?” replied with a gleam in his eye, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty.”

~Retold by Jim Baker

In the dusty dark depths and heights of the scaffolding, work meant more to me knowing that I am not just painting, graining, or spot-cleaning, but restoring a magnificent historic landmark…and eventually, helping build the Immaculata.

The clock high up in the tower

How did I get this job?

Originally I applied as a studio artist, inspired by the artwork of the new Immaculata. I was offered a place in decorative painting. That’s still big scale work. Demanding. Involving woodgraining, marbling, Venetian plaster, guilding, and so on. It was an honor to have a chance with the company.

The very top of the highest spire, from the inside.

To be honest and to paint an accurate picture for you, dear reader, the setting is more often than not NOT a pretty environment.

I challenge you to go, do the scray climb, and find my mark.

The setting has been in construction-like settings. We tend to come in not AFTER the construction work is done, but during some of the most yicky parts.

We are covered in dust and grime almost always by the end of the day.

Earbuds don’t belong in paint. Happy little accident…with a big price tag!

And construction work….well, lets just say it’s a really good chance to observe human nature, stripped free of the veneer of a refined working environment.

You get the ‘best of times” and “the worst of times.” (Untended full porta-potties being close to the worst.)

The upper half I blieve is my work…it all blends together after a while!

You see dads striving to bring home the bacon for the fam, proud to talk about their wife and kids.

You see young teenagers willing to do good hardwork for a good penny, Mexican ladies doing an incredible job staying ladies while doing some of the most difficult work, courteous gentlmen, guys dragging their feet with no purpose, and young guys hitting on you the minute you acknowledge them.

You see older craftsmen and women who are doing the work because it’s fun, or who, in an inspiring way, are willing to admit that they are making a new beginning -and they are not afraid of the work.

All walks of life are here.

Working on a construction site with a bunch of new people in a new environment is a pretty good test of character.

Energy for the day: capturing a surpise view of the historic Main Street Station from the Capitol District.

After three works of working alongside the same group, you get used to each other, cultivate on-the-site jokes, and in my case, know when to take opportunities that present themselves on break -like climbing up to the highest point of the tower of the Old City Hall, or painting scenes while on break.

Admittedly, it is hard on someone who is pretty sensitive to the the aesthetics of one’s surroundings.

Place me in an open field or along a beach to do research and sketch and draw and write, and I am content to work away, but put me in a place where there is dust and darkness and dirt of more than one kind, and it takes a whole weekend to refuel the tanks.

Painting with water where the Chesapeake meets the Atlantic…with friend and cider!

Enter the setting. Virginia. She’s terra firma to me.

The first weekend up a good friend came up and stayed with me and we went marauding about Norfolk VA, a fondly remembered childhood home.

My dear friend travel quite a ways to hang out with me on the coast! So grateful to her!

We just HAD to see the ocean, at daytime [and night time, thanks to my friend’s flexibility and patience -I highly recommend] and sailed the harbour on the American Rover, a tall schooner. On Sunday we assisted at Mass and visited with the pastor, a good old friend.

The next weekend I explored so many areas of downtown Richmond: Belle Isle, the Canal Walk, Southern Rail Taphouse, Brown Island Bridge and so much more. Saturday at Hollywood Cemetery led me, thanks to my sister Anna, to discover that our great-great-great-Uncle Almon Bryan from Georgia died at Chamborazo Hospital, now a park.

That was an incredible signal from Providence that I was exactly where I was supposed to be: right time, right place!

Local brew, while eating picnic fare on the land where my Civil War ancestor died. Do you see the improvised fine fork?

More on that will come later.

On Sunday I spend time with some good ol’ family friends at the same taphouse, and then made time to hustle leisurely through Maymont, an estate turned into a fine park of gardens, buildings, and picnicing areas.

Each day over the weekend was more refueling than the next. So many roots discovered and nourished kept me grounded while I explored the whole new world of this job at Everegreene.

Painting where Chimborazo overlooks Richmond.

Next week will see me back in Kansas, working on the new Immaculata! Check back for updates!

Thank you for reading; hope you enjoyed!

Before you leave, browse the below -you might find something to enhance your daily life! (Note: when you click the above photo-link, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Click, and you’re the best! )

Hats make a difference! Favorite casual accessory for on those hot sunny days:

Do you like happy feet? These were more comfortable than my birkestocks…wearing this style of Vivobarefoot shoes is like going barefoot with protection. These are the best things to have when doing a combo of hikes and urbania.

This book I chanced to find while exploring Chimborazo park. The island I explored was the site of a Civil War POW camp. It looks interesting and I look forward to reading it one day:


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