The Artist Heart

My friend Rose has a little quote by Saint Francis of Assisi hanging in her bathroom that says,

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

IMG_9929If you’ve ever met my husband Craig, you would surely know him as a laborer and craftsman. However, if you were to spend any amount of time with my husband, on any kind of project that involves woodworking or building, you would know that he has the heart of an artist. And so it is when we get invited to come alongside kinfolk who are working on any sort of building project, that Craig Holland comes to life.

In March, we were invited by the Vincent family to come and stay with them in Bendigo, Victoria and partner with them on an epic month-long project remodeling their home. The bedrooms were in the back of the house and the kitchen living room in the front. Their hope was to flip it around and put the bedrooms in the front of the house and the living areas in the back of the house, thus enjoying the gardens and having more space to host gatherings.

Andy, a civil engineer and fellow “artist,” was the perfect partner for Craig, as he had already worked through much of the tedious details around his home reno project. The stage was set, materials were gathered and many gracious hands came to join in on the mundane tasks of the everyday jobs. Had it just been a cut and paste job however, there wouldn’t have been any artistry or joy but it was during those moments of conversation where Andy and Craig had to solve a problems, entering the mystery of the unknown, that the artists heart was allowed to flourish.

The final product was not just a functional space but a space that felt like an artist hands had touched it. The finally was a home, sacred and secure which is surely a gift to those living in the space, but so much more to the head and hands that created it. We are grateful for opportunities like this, to exercise our gifts and talents, to be in community, working alongside our kinfolk, excited for the coming joy of dreams come true.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is one of our favorite places to visit. It is a city filled with history, creativity and wonder. It is the capital of the of New Mexico and was originally occupied by a number of Pueblo Indian villages with founding dates between 1050 to 1150. One of the earliest known settlements in what today is downtown Santa Fe came sometime after 900. Later, Don Juan de Onate led the first effort to colonize the region in 1598, establishing Santa Fé de Nuevo México as a province of New Spain.

Santa Fe, previously known as the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi, is at least the third oldest surviving American city founded by European colonists, behind the oldest St. Augustine, Florida (1565). The Adobe architecture is striking and we were impressed with the city’s efforts to maintain the heritage of this building style. 

We spent most of our time visiting the historical churches in Santa Fe.

Said to be the oldest standing church structure in the US. The adobe walls were constructed around A.D. 1610
San Miguel Mission, Said to be the oldest standing church structure in the US. The adobe walls were constructed around A.D. 1610
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, commonly known as Saint Francis Cathedral. It is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. The cathedral was built by Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy between 1869 and 1886 on the site of an older adobe church, La Parroquia (built in 1714–1717).
At the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail stands the Loretto Chapel, home of the Miraculous Spiral Staircase.  It has been the subject of legend and rumor, and the circumstances surrounding its construction and its builder are consideredmiraculous by the Sisters of Loretto and many visitors.
At the end of the Old Santa Fe Trail stands the Loretto Chapel, home of the Miraculous Spiral Staircase. It has been the subject of legend and rumor, and the circumstances surrounding its construction and its builder are consideredmiraculous by the Sisters of Loretto and many visitors.

20130225-132843.jpgThe Sisters of Loretto relate the story as follows:

Needing a way to get up to the choir loft the nuns prayed for St. Joseph’s  intercession for nine straight days. On the day after their novena ended a shabby looking stranger appeared at their door. He told the nuns he would build them a staircase but that he needed total privacy and locked himself in the chapel for three months. He used a small number of primitive tools including a square, a saw and some warm water and constructed a spiral staircase entirely of non-native wood. The identity of the carpenter is not known for as soon as the staircase was finally finished he was gone. Many witnesses, upon seeing the staircase, feel it was constructed by St. Joseph himself, as a miraculous occurrence. The resulting staircase is an impressive work of carpentry. It ascends twenty feet, making two complete revolutions up to the choir loft without the use of nails or apparent center support. It has been surmised that the central spiral of the staircase is narrow enough to serve as a central beam. Nonetheless there was no attachment unto any wall or pole in the original stairway, although in 1887 — 10 years after it was built — a railing was added and the outer spiral was fastened to an adjacent pillar. Instead of metal nails, the staircase was constructed using dowels or wooden pegs.

After our tours of the churches we went to the art district and enjoyed many of the galleries on Canyon Road. We ended our tour at Kakawa Chocolate House. The following quote is from the 1928 Santa Fe Fiesta Program and describes the flamboyant vibe in Santa Fe.  “This year we are making a studied conscious effort not to be studied or conscious. Santa Fe is now one of the most interesting art centers in the world and you, O Dude of the East, are privileged to behold the most sophisticated group in the country gamboling freely… And Santa Fe, making you welcome, will enjoy itself hugely watching the Dude as he gazes. Be sure as you stroll along looking for the quaint and picturesque that you are supplying your share of those very qualities to Santa Fe, the City Incongruous… Be yourself, even if it includes synthetic cowboy clothes, motor goggles and a camera.”

Later we explored the Santa Fe Rail Yard park It’s a 10 acre park designed to show off Santa Fe’s creativity while maintaining the rich rail yard history. We had a lovely time exploring the park and taking photographs.

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We look forward to visiting this fun city again down the line and highly recommend it as a vacation destination.