Wisdom on Wednesdays—Surrounded by leisure

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Girl Reading, oil on hardboard, 8 x 10 in.
Nicknamed “Whistler’s Niece,” suggestive of J. M. Whistler’s well-recognized portrait of his mother.

“The natural condition of Artistic Creation is servitude–but servitude, voluntary, supported by charity, surrounded by leisure!”  (1929)

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Dad: A civilized man

This week we are honoring David T. Schmitt, Carl Schmitt’s fifth son, who died on March 22 at the age of 89.  Below is David’s portrait of his father, taken from a collection of memories he wrote down not long after his father’s death.

My father was born in 1889 in Warren, Ohio.  He was the second son of Jacob and Grace Schmitt, who had only two boys. His father Jacob taught music in Youngstown and donated his expertise as the choir director for St. Mary’s Church in Warren for over fifty years.  He also played the organ every Sunday for that period.

Jacob Schmitt with his sons Carl (left) and Robert, c. 1905.

From the beginning Dad could always draw, he had the talent of the discerning line.  He pursued this talent and made it his vocation, leaving high school to study art in New York, at the National Academy of Design.  He always knew what he wanted to do and he did it as far as art was concerned. He was given the gift and he knew it was his responsibility to develop it.  He further studied abroad in France and Italy before the First World War.

Later he returned home to marry Gertrude Lord and settle in Silvermine, near Norwalk, Connecticut.  Here he and other like-minded artists founded the Silvermine Guild of Artists, a colony where they could exchange ideas, paint and exhibit their skills.  This included drama, sculpture, painting, drawing, etching, water color, and some crafts such a pottery–they established a shop.

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Self-Portrait, charcoal and pencil on paper, December 1916

My father was what I call a civilized man: you could count on him to not only do the right thing at the right time but from the right motive, and he always knew why he should do things so.  He had good will and intelligence.  He was mature.  He not only nursed the gift of Faith, but he welcomed the gifts of the Holy Spirit, contemplated them, and tried to integrate them into his everyday life as much as possible.

He was civilized in the Christian tradition and he saw God’s creation as a magnificent manifestation of his love, because God is magnificent.  He wasn’t stilted in Puritan observations and taboos because Christ has redeemed creation to the extent that it wants or has cooperated in submission.  Consequently the Holy Spirit has informed nature to raise it above itself through grace.

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Self-Portrait, oil on hardboard, c. 1965, 15 x 12 in.

Mother always said Dad had an “artistic nature” or “temperament.”  In a word, he responded almost innately: dramatically, responsibly to any given situation.  He had instant commitment or involvement, with integrity.  To balance this innate tendency he was also extremely analytical to the point of being almost scientific about evaluating everything.

He was a true contemplative at times and even mystical at others in his deep understanding of the true nature of persons, places, things, situations—he would speak of the symbol and reality of the Trinity again and again in creation!

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Untitled, pastel on paper, 14 x 16 in.

Wisdom on Wednesdays—Beyond wealth

In memory of Carl Schmitt’s son David T. Schmitt, who passed away on March 22 at the age of 89, we offer this reflection, taken from his reminiscences of his father.

David Schmitt with his granddaughter

David T. Schmitt walking with one of his granddaughters in Silvermine, Connecticut, Fall 2010.

Only he who loves objectively in a mature way—an outside gift from a gracious Reality, God—is the person or people who can respect all matter—creation, in the true sense of the word.  “This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  Only then will they see beyond wealth and its proper place in the balance of the hierarchy of order.  Dad used to say: “To go beyond wealth, is to go into wisdom.”

Wisdom on Wednesdays—The professionalist

“The outstanding social change in my lifetime has been the success of professionalism.  The professionalist is one who has written off love from the motives of action as too corny and naïve, and has substituted acquisition if not avarice as spur to endeavor.  But professionalism, by bending all activity to expediency, has mechanized the epic and by excessive speed and monotonous repetition has defeated the Fine Arts as creative actions.  For no action can be creative which was not born in Love.” (1961)

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Lady in a Garden, pastel on paper, c. 1922, 14¼ x 11¼ in.
A portrait of Schmitt’s wife Gertrude done outside his studio in Silvermine.