Last Saturday, my wife and I drove down to Provo to see the Art exhibit titled, Sacred Gifts. It contains paintings by Carl Bloch, Heinrich Hoffmann, and Franz Schwartz. I have heard and seen Bloch's works as the Conference Center and Temple Square Visitor's Center has sme of them. I'm sure you've seen them too. He is the one that painted the majority of the Book of Mormon Art that is in our scriptures.

I love looking at those pictures. I can remember thumbing through (supposed to be reading the Book of Mormon) as a youth, but found most of my time was spent staring at the pictures. These pictures spoke to me. I didn't really have to read the book of Mormon, I could get the gist of it by seeing the pictures. That was my thinking back then. And I have to confess, as a child going through Art museums bored me to death.  They were just various pictures. But then something happened along the way that changed my way of thinking - adulthood and maturity. :)

The pictures in the Book of Mormon could "paint a picture" in my mind (pun intended). But seeing the real thing took me to a totally different place. To be standing there by a painting that the artist actually touched. To see the painting that appears in millions upon millions of Book of Mormons. That thought brought chills up and down my spine. To be a foot away from the painting, and see the paint built up on the canvas (actually metal in most cases) and see the strokes used to create these masterpieces humbled me. I saw some imperfections in the works - where the artist, or restoration artists attempted to fix a part of the painting that has been damaged through the centuries. But, when I stepped back and looked at the entire picture, that flaw wasn't visible - unless I looked for it. It didn't detract at all from the work of art.

I sat there with my iPad app as some people gave a better insight insight on the work of art or testimony about the scene depicted. It was all there as well as music I could play while contemplating the art. All of these experiences I found myself soaking in the moment put me on a higher spiritual plane that I could ever imagine. The stories of some of the paintings and how they survived World War's was fascinating. I imagined the artists hard at work on their painting. Using broad strokes at times, and the most delicate strokes also. I imagine that maybe, just maybe tears from the artists eyes blended in with some of the paint. I imagined them getting very close up to concentrate on a certain part, but also needing to stand back to see the "big picture" (pun intended again). They could do both (get up and close as well as from a distance), because they knew what the finished piece was to look like. Either through sketches (etchings), other models, or perhaps in their mind they knew what it was to look like. These artists worked on their labor of love with these works, sometimes for many months.

As I said, I knew about Bloch - but what about Hoffmann and Schwartz? Could they live up to a Carl Bloch? My answer is a resounding YES. I saw the same beautiful brush strokes - broad and delicate. I saw the love they put into their art. And they also told stories which I understood immediately upon gazing at the art. I gained more reapect for artists - for the love they put into their work. Clearly, in my minds eye, Bloch, Hoffmann, and Schwartz were inspired to portray those masterpieces.

We are all fine pieces of art. We have been created by a loving master. We all have different characteristics, just as the brush strokes. We all exhibit (pun intended) beauty in our own right. As we examine the lives of others, we can see their flaws that make us all human. We, ourselves have our flaws, and yes - others can see them - including ourselves. Many times, after examining flaws in others, we tend to jump to conclusions. We focus on that one flaw. What we need to do is to step back, and them in the big eternal scheme of things. That is when the real change can occur. We see them as the master does and their eternal picture. Only our Father in Neaven, the master knows us. He modeled us after Himself. The flaws, all of a sudden don't matter.  Our master, who is our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of His creations. We are all exhibited in the museum of mortality. We are are all priceless masterpieces in His eyes. If we aspire to be like Him, we must, likewise love all of Heavenly Father's creations and see them for the Bloch's, Hoffmann's, and Schwartzes, and all other unknown (to us) artists who also aspire for things eternal.

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