Oozing my Religion

INSPIRATION
Anonymous
24" x 30", pastels and acrylic on canvas

The organ master stares, transfixed by twin mysterious visions; the Neanderthal saint in the setting sun and the Gothic monk proceeding out from the cathedral's sanctum, each framed by a halo of organ pipes, reminiscent of #2 pencils. 

OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HOUSEWORK
Buchina
20” x 16”, acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a thrift shop in Boston, MA
August, 2016

Fetchingly attractive St. Martha is depicted in recognition of the fact that, in the spiritual as well as the physical realm, a woman’s work is never done.

PAPA NOSTRO
Anonymous
13" x 31", acrylic on pressboard
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
December 2007
MOBA #442


Clearly an homage to the late Pope John Paul II, this painting is not without mysterious imagery. The MOBA research Department has determined that the writing in the upper left corner is the beginning of the Lord's Prayer in Italian ("Our Father who art in heaven"). Unexplained, though, is the unusual lettering and Milkbone logo in the lower left quadrant. Also unexplained is the signifigance of the jagged red line that runs horizontally across the image. Some scholars speculate it represents an EKG of the Pope in failing health, while others insist it represents the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the life of "The Great One" (1920-2005).

PIUS THE ANGRY
M.J. Penczak
20" x 16", oil on canvas

It is difficult to determine cause and effect. Did the tight white headband cause the tense, angry brow? Are his crossed eyes caused by, or the cause of his anger? That tight collar isn’t helping.

POPE BENEDICT XVI
Jane Doyle
24” x 18”, acrylic on canvas board
Donated by Cathy Soderquist
July, 2013

Relieved of many awesome responsibilities since his resignation, the Pope Emeritus appears troubled by relatively minor concerns. Where, for instance, is the papal hairdresser?

ILL PAPA
Anonymous
11" x 14", acrylic and ink on canvas
Anonymous donation from Sarasota, FL
September, 2010
MOBA #529
TORMENT OF THE SOUL
Anonymous
28.5" x 22", acrylic paint on particle board
Donated by Greg Kenny
MOBA #45

An ochre aura emanates from the young man with the eyes of an exorcist. His rhetoric rushes from white joyless lips. He holds a book in his right hand, while there is only a vague suggestion of a hand at the end of his left arm.

Museum curators have done extensive research to determine the inspiration for this painting, and believe it is a portrait of eclectic Australian musician Nick Cave.

EASTER TRIPTYCH
J. Rattery
10" x 30", oil on canvas
Won at a church raffle in Medford, MA by his father (~2008) and
donated by Steve Smith along with David Lones
June 2018

The artist combined the conventions of the traditional triptych along with the modern graphic novel to illustrate a fundamental religious narrative.

THE ANSWERED PRAYER
Anonymous
24" x 48", acrylic on canvas
Rescued from the trash in Berkeey, CA,
and donated by Lisa Von Blanckensee,
December, 2013

After years of self-denial, the ascetics' prayer was finally answered.

MADONNA AND BABY
Anonymous
38” x 32”, oil on canvas
Purchased in a thrift store in Saugus, MA
and donated by Cindi Chapman
May, 2017

The subject of countless paintings over the centuries, The Holy Mother is particularly beautiful in this rendition. Her baby, not so much.

MADONNA AND CHILD
A. Fontaine
12" x 8", oil on canvas
Purchased at an antique store in Hyde Park, MA
September 1999
MOBA #122

This is a work of undisputed tenderness in which the spiritual trumps the physical through careful disregard of details of the human form.

MADONNA E BAMBINO
P. Howard (1981)
20" x 16", oil on canvas
Donated by Marlow Harris, Seattle, WA
August 2008

Her high cheekbones, angular features, and graceful hands give Madonna the aura of a high-fashion super-model. The baby bears little resemblance to her, and probably looks like his unidentified father.

MADONNA AND INFANT
Jane Doyle
24” x 18”, acrylic on canvas board
Donated by Cathy Soderquist
July, 2013
MOTHER MARY AND JESUS
Mungo
13" x 16", oil on canvas
Purchased at a flea market in Rowley, MA

There is a carelessness in the slapdash technique and the minimalist background, but Mungo's piety and thoughtfulness show through; Christianity's central figures are portrayed in a modern urban setting. The Virgin Mary, in untraditional red garb, waits serenely for a bus with her young son who is inexplicably depicted as a hyperactive simian with a blaze orange Mohawk.

From: Museum of Bad Art: Masterworks, by Michael Frank and Louise Reilly Sacco

STUDY FOR: MOTHER MARY AND JESUS
Attributed to Mungo
9" x 12", oil on canvas
Salvaged from a curbside trash pile in Boston, MA

In a reversal of the usual process, this study is larger and more carefully rendered than the figure in the final work. The MOBA staff is happy these works have been reunited; they were acquired 27 months and 25 miles apart.

ST. JOSEPH AND THE BABY JESUS
B. Goforth
14” x 10”, oil on canvas board
Purchased in a thrift shop in San Angelo, TX
and donated by Mary Bloodworth
April, 2015

In this variation of a traditional religious motif, Joseph holds the baby but appears unconvinced of the official story of his conception.

MADONNA WITH SMILE
Anonymous
6" x 2" x 1.5", felt tip marker on sculpted wood
Acquired at a church sale in Boston, MA 

The artist transformed a simple icon into a mysterious yet radiant image with a few quick dashes of the pen.

MADONNA WITH FLOSS
Illegible, May, 2005
20" x 16", acrylic on canvas
Purchased at a thrift shop in Boston, MA
February 2013
MOBA #488

A modern rendering of a classic theme, featuring the religious icon wearing a sleeveless dress and pushup bra. She seems to have fallen asleep before finishing her dental ablutions.

DER REBBE
Anonymous
20" x 16", oil on canvas board

The artist portrays a pious older man whose soft smile and gentle blue eyes suggest a personality as sweet as Maneschewitz Concord Grape Wine.

TODAY I AM A MAN
Anonymous
14" x 11", acrylic in canvas
Rescued from the trash in Salem, MA
and donated by Harry Bartnick
January 2014
MOBA #562

The bar-mitzvah boy sits, anxiously regretting the time he did not devote to memorize the haftorah he is about to chant in front of his family, friends, and invited guests. His feelings of inadequacy are expressed by the see-through wrist revealing the harlequin wallpaper behind, the menacing, disconnected prayer shawl inserting itself into his throat only to inexplicably emerge on his other shoulder, and his withered, insufficient arm and hands. Yet, eyes closed, he contemplates the pleasures of the night ahead at his sports-themed reception.


THE BAR MITZVAH
L. Horvath, 1988
18" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift shop in Roslindale, MA
July 2012

The family was appalled to see guests throwing dinner rolls and grapes when a food fight broke out at what was supposed to be a joyous occasion.

This was clearly inspired by Rembrandt's BELSHAZZAR'S FEAST which depicts a story from the Book of Daniel. Belshazzar, a Babylonian king, had a feast in which he used goblets and silverware that had originally been stolen from the Temple by his father Nebuchadnezzar. A mysterious hand appeared, writing something that was undecipherable to anyone but Daniel because the words were written vertically rather than right to left. Belshazzar died the next day because he could not read the handwriting on the wall.

Belshazzar's Feast,  Rembrandt Harmensz van Rihn, ca. 1635-39

SPIRIT IN THE SKY
Anonymous
17" x 13", acrylic on art-board

The Prince of Peace is depicted on a puffy cumulus cloud. His tiny feet would probably not support his weight on solid ground.

ALTAR EGO
Anonymous
20" x 14', oil on canvas

The young man's blond hair, blue eyes, and traditional white surplice suggest an air of innocence as he performs his churchly duties, seemingly oblivious to his menacing shadow; the artist's heavy-handed representation of the scandalous ethical lapses that have plagued some religious institutions.

DOESTH SEEKEETH THE LEVEL OF REMINOETH NAY
Illegible
25" x 34", oil on pressboard
Found in a dumpster in the late 1970s in Los Angeles, CA by Nicole Panter and
Donated at a MOBA event in
Santa Fe, NM by Ciel Bergman
March 2009

Jesus is depicted calmly overseeing, and perhaps offering his blessing to, a violent geological event that may represent the oft-predicted sliding of California into the Pacific Ocean.

The title of this work is carved into the frame, as are the words "WISDOM" and "NOWLEDGE". This highfaluting language, replete with misspellings, may be purposeful or, along with the mathematical fractions, that inaccurately divide the image, simply the representational equivalent of “speaking in tongues.”

LIGHT MOST BLEST
Barbara Sciarappa, 1975
28"x22', oil on canvas
Purchased at the Brimfield Antique Fair
May, 2010
MARCH MADNESS
Adam Leveille (1996)
16"x20", oil on canvas
Purchased by M. Frank at a thrift store in Boston, MA,
May, 2006

In like a lion, out like a lamb; the glorious thrill of victory and the deathlike agony of defeat are portrayed with imagery borrowed from the Book of Revelation in this homage to the annual spring classic.


Commentary by Guest Interpretator Allen Hickerson:

The imagery is all from the book of Revelation. In the middle is half-lamb/half lion, representing Jesus, who is the "Lamb of God" and also is described as the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah." He seems to be wrapped in purple cloth, symbolic of royalty. This probably stems from the lamb/lion depicted in Revelation as seated on a throne.

Additionally, we see a scroll unfurled--probably the "Book of Life"; the "Seventh Seal," numbered with the Roman numeral VII; and the victorious rider on the white horse with sword extended--another image of Jesus.

The rest is a bit of a mystery. In the upper right portion of the picture is a broken pillar. This may be meant as a reference to the fall of the Roman Empire, or all world empires in general. In the lower left corner are bones, or at least a skull. This may have been a symbolic attempt at depicting the ultimate destruction of death.

DEVIL OR ANGEL
Anonymous
32" x 24", oil on canvas
Purchased at a thrift store in Boston, MA
May, 2007
MOBA #366


"Devil or angel, dear whichever you are, I love you, I love you, I love you."

Music and lyrics by Blanche Carter
Recorded by The Clovers (1955) and Bobby Vee (1957)

KALI AT THE BEACH
L.J.H.
16" x 12", oil on canvas
Donated by the artist
mid 1990s
MOBA #31

The ten-armed icon rocks a red bikini as she hits the beach with her umbrella, blanket, cooler, and portable radio. Life is good.