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Friday, July 5, 2013

Proctor Cronk At Syracuse, parts 1791 - 1794


 
1791. I tried to picture my old icons, when they had just been finished up and sitting on a shelf in a Russian shop two hundred years ago. Perhaps they too were just cheap looking glossy images painted mostly with the help of tin stencils, and almost entirely painted by bored assistants who are anxious for the morning break so they can go out back and have a smoke.



1792. Then I tried to imagine what those same icons would look like if someone were to burry them in the ground and they got dug up years later. The surface would be all eaten up by worms. Half the surface will have disappeared. Those parts that were silver are now that purple black color of old metal. Yes, the earth would have transformed those icons from cheap mechanically produced images into austere works of art, whose surface, long suffering, looks as though it could seriously raise the dead, as it was itself resurrected.



1793. I purchased one of their icons for twenty-five dollars, and when I got back to my office I compared it to the old icons I had found in the trunk of the art department director’s car. It was then that I decided to sandblast the surface of the thing until most of the image was destroyed. After that what was left was still too new looking so I rubbed the thing down with some axle grease mixed with dirt. When I rubbed the grease off you couldn’t tell the difference between the old icons and the new one.




1794. You couldn’t tell the difference unless you turned them over and compared the backs. It is the back of an icon that establishes its identity and its value. Like the appearance of gold, nothing can
substitute for the look of the care and devotion the carpentry of the
back displays.





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