st. john's hospital

2019.34 (Unknown, Portrait of Franciscus de Wulf)

            I have to punt a bit this week for the blog. Varying schedules have overlapped to keep me busy and if I have to cut something, it probably needs to be the couple of hours I spend writing and editing a self-indulgent 2,000-word reflection on a piece of art and whatever else springs to mind as a result.

            School starts for me next week which means preparation went into full swing. In addition to that was the return of a number of family obligations. On top of that, my elbow turned red in a feverish manner and swelled up a bit. I went to the doctor and he did what everyone wants from the doctor. He grabbed my arm and looked at it and said, “Oh man, I do not like this at all. Oh man.” The next 15 minutes were spent getting bloodwork and a giant shot of antibiotics in my…uh…hip, then getting a set of prescriptions for a bunch of other antibiotics. Long story short, I was diagnosed with a case of septic arthritis. Who wants to see those two words put next to each other on a sheet with your name on it? Septic. Arthritis. The drugs appear to be working. Hopefully they will take care of all of this. If not, I will be sent to an orthopedic surgeon to “clean out the joint”. That sounds painful. The only time I want to hear the phrase “clean out the joint” is in a gangster movie when someone is supposed to rid a speakeasy of a bunch of ne’er-do-wells.

            If my body loses this battle, my elbow could become crippled to the point of not be able to be used. Depending on which online medical symptom checker you use, I have a 15% chance of dying. Not to be a downer, but you probably have a 15% chance of dying every day that you leave the house anyway. This is why you don’t look at online symptom checkers. With the rate of improvement that I have experienced since Monday, I doubt either of these worst-case scenarios is going to occur, but this is why we follow doctor’s orders and pray.

            So, for at least one more week, I’ll be downing pills and hitting the heat pad.

Unknown painter,  Portrait of Franciscus de Wulf,  oil on canvas, early 18th c., 100x78cm, image courtesy of the St. John’s Hospital museum catalog, Bruges

Unknown painter, Portrait of Franciscus de Wulf, oil on canvas, early 18th c., 100x78cm, image courtesy of the St. John’s Hospital museum catalog, Bruges

            For your viewing pleasure in relation to this development, I present you with an unknown painter’s Portrait of Franciscus de Wulf, from St. John’s Hospital museum in Bruges. The hospital is best known for its large collection of Hans Memling paintings but, I don’t think you can visit this place without stopping and staring at this piece. De Wulf apparently was famous for his treatment of cataracts. That’s all I know. “Famous” is vague. Was he well-known because he was good at it or because of the way he did it? “C’mere, kid. Look up and don’t squirm.” De Wulf is rendered well. The kid’s head and arm, not so much. But I do appreciate the giant black shape to render de Wulf’s body and the shock of red in the bottom to bring you to the child. Your eye sees the red and you look down, focus your eyes and think, “Noooooooo.” The focal points are created in isolated pockets of light surrounded by darkness, not unlike Thomas Eakins’ Gross Clinic or something similar. It’s a harsh reminder of where we were and where we are. We won’t live long enough to be around in 200 years where people in 2219 look at our medical instruments and think, “Noooooooo.” You go to war with the army you have.

            I’ll try to get something more properly composed together for next week, even though it already almost is next week. I have no idea who cares about this or not. It’s not like I’m sending out surveys or asking for reviews. But do know, that if you were looking forward to something more substantial this week that I am sorry that I couldn’t provide it.  


If you need a proper breakdown of my week in relation to things that might interest you:

1.     If you live in the Nashville area, there’s art up in Sumner County that you should go see. First, in Hendersonville (my hometown- Go Commandos!), the Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center just opened their Picasso: Master in Clay and Mouly: From Clay to Canvas shows. There are approximately 60 of Picasso’s limited-edition clay pieces, his Vollard Suite of etchings and a number of Marcel Mouly’s paintings. I’ll probably write more about the Vollard Suite later. Mouly was unknown to me but I appreciated his paintings quite a bit. He’s like so many 20th/21st century painters: the child of Picasso and Matisse. His color is saturated and intense, and he works in a modified Cubist language. They work really well.

2.     Volunteer State Community College (where I teach in an adjunct capacity) will soon host a 2-person exhibition between Jeffrey Cortland Jones and Heather Jones. The installation was in-progress when I was there, but it already looks sharp. The show opens on August 26th and runs through September 19th. If you have no idea where Volunteer State Community College is located, technically it’s spread all over middle Tennessee on multiple campuses, but this show is on the main campus in Gallatin in the Humanities Building. The gallery is on the first floor right when you walk in the door.

 3. I started reading Mark Sayers’ Reappearing Church. So far, I’m only 10 pages into it.

4. Also, Bryce Harper hit a grand slam to the moon when it was most needed and made every Phillies fan a believer again.