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Thoughts on a Troubling and Chronic Issue

To all of you who came to the opening reception of the show I curated at First Presbyterian Church, thank you, and it was wonderful to see you there. If you can't get to the city in person, you can see pictures at @barbaraHerMor on Instagram, and I'll be posting more.

As you probably know, the show traces the story of the Creation as told in the book of Genesis, from "Let there be Light," to the seventh day, the day of rest.

Today I want to write about that last day and this painting of First Presbyterian Church by Ryan Bauer-Walsh .

kA painting of a gothic church with a person sleeping on the sidewalk

Ryan Bauer-Walsh

The Seventh Day

Acrylic on a previously used, Donated canvas



"This piece was painted in six days on a canvas that was found in the trash by a neighbor. It was a portrait of a woman meditating- covered in rhinestones that were glued to the canvas.

On the seventh day, I sat in front of the canvas in thought, and prayed that the homeless person in the painting would find shelter. Yet-it was I that painted them with my own brushes.

No one should be homeless. The only way to solve poverty and homelessness is through action. There is no rest for humanity till we all agree that we all have enough, and that enough is enough.

I live paycheck to paycheck in an HDFC building in Harlem. I will keep 900 dollars from this painting, which is what it costs for me to live one more month in New York City. The rest will be donated to a local homeless shelter under the guidance of FPCNYC.

This painting is a reminder of the services we must provide for others.

Paradise is the world we create for future generations, “On Earth as it is in Heaven”

For on the Eighth Day- God made humanity a partner in creation.

It is time - Pick up your brushes."

I am happy to report that this painting is sold and the buyer agrees to Ryan's terms. Congratulations, Ryan.

Now, as I am sure Ryan intended, I've been thinking all week about how I pick up my brushes, rather, how I get to work to solve the world's, and specifically our city's, very evident problem; that there are thousands of people who do not have a home and what can we do to help them? Do I do as Jesus advised the wealthy young man and give away everything I have? Um, no, and thinking that that's the way kind of lets me off the hook because I'm just not gonna. I am grateful for these words from the Talmud because they put things in perspective;

Every time I pass a person who seems to be living on the street I have a discussion with myself. First, what do we call these people? "Homeless" is now seen as a derogatory term. "Unhoused" feels awkward. We used to call them by names that are wholly unacceptable now. Maybe just call them people.

So what do I do? I've heard some say, "Even if you don't give, I appreciate that you actually look at me and maybe smile." I passed a man standing in front of Dunkin' Donuts, smiled without giving him anything and he said, "I like your hat!" I decided if he was still there when I returned I'd stop. I asked if I could buy him a donut and coffee and he said, "No, I've had enough coffee, I'd like a croissant and hash browns." I could have said that's a lot of carbs but I didn't and he gave me a nice but not effusive thank you.

I try to keep singles in my pocket to give away because I don't like to stop and open my wallet; on several occasions someone has peered in and said, "You have twenties! Give me a twenty!"

I can always turn to my son, Sam, for an interesting view. On a subway ride when he was eight we heard a man give his appeal for contributions, saying, "You never know--tomorrow you may be in my place." Sam thought that was a good point and so we gave the man money. The next time I reached in my pocket for someone in the street, Sam said, "No, Mom, he's smoking! Don't give him money, he'll spend it on cigarettes." So no money for that guy, but Sam now says if you give someone a gift, it's not your business how he spends it.

Sometimes I look at a person and want to say, "You look like a strong, healthy young man, well-spoken and pleasant--is this the best you can do with your one life?" I haven't done it, because who do I think I am, in all my privilege and comfort? And what do I know anyway?

I know I like to draw with my pen and inks, and 7 Days has been taking up a lot of my time. Queen Elizabeth has me intimidated--I don't feel ready to work on her face but she keeps watching me so...I'll get back to her and her pelican.

Pen & Ink Drawing of Queen Elizabeth I holding a pelican

I've also been adding more and more to Red Pagodas--

Red Pagodas and bridges in green foliage

I've decided I like it after all. and I'm glad I didn't throw it away.

This week I started a new big doll house and this makes me really happy. there's not much to show now but just wait.

Preliminary Pencil sketch

March 16, 2023

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