Novel Thoughts blog

If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it

May 23, 2014 1:02 pm | 3 Comments


A while back I participated in a discussion about art. The person who started the discussion was lamenting that in our modern world, good meaningful art was no longer being created. Everything good was in the past and the current world of art was devoid of talent and worth. Someone else stepped in to comment that there is plenty of good art out there. The problem is that so many people have become convinced that art in the modern world is meaningless that they’ve stopped looking for it. And if you don’t look for it, you won’t find it.

This retreat from seeking new art is something that’s easy to fall into. Especially for Catholics who are trying to take their faith seriously. So much of the world seems almost deliberately designed to push aside meaningful standards of beauty and truth that a wholesale rejection of modernity seems positively sane at times. But it’s not really the answer.

Seeking out and supporting meaningful art, be it literature, music, film, painting, or sculpture, is something that we should all try to do. As said above, if you don’t look for it, you won’t find it.  And when you do find it, share it! Art doesn’t come into being in a vacuum; it needs support and it needs participants.

To make good on what I’m talking about, here are some links to artists currently working today.

MUSIC: Frank La Rocca is a classical composer. I’ve been lucky enough to hear his pieces performed locally here in California. Listen for yourself on his website and see what you think!

VISUAL ART: I know I’ve plugged Daniel Mitsui before, but I’m going to do it again. His liturgical art draws upon a number of influences to become something truly original. You can help support his work by purchasing prints on his website.

Another artist producing good work (and helping teach a new generation of artists) is Tim Jones. See his fine portraits of G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc here!

LITERATURE: I recently posted about the fine novels of Lucy Beckett, which are well worth your time.

A writer of science-fiction and fantasy, Gene Wolfe is an author whose books transcend the genre.  In particular, his Book of the New Sun should be recognized as a truly great contribution to 20th Century literature.

Tim Powers is another sci-fi/fantasy author. My favorite of his novels is Declare, an incredibly well-researched and terrifyingly convincing story that combines the occult with espionage. Think John le Carré with demons. It’s also a deeply Catholic story with many sacramental references.

For children, my kids can’t get enough of the Zita the Spacegirl series by Ben Hatke. This graphic novel series follows Zita, an ordinary girl from Earth, as she goes on a series of increasingly extraordinary adventures. The influence of such masters as Hayao Miyazaki and Jim Henson is apparent in these books—and they are a lot of fun to read aloud!

FILM: I have a couple of favorite recent films dealing with Christianity. One is Ostrov, a Russian movie from 2006 about Father Anatoly, a holy fool. The second is The Mill and the Cross (2011), a breathtaking work of art by the Polish filmmaker Lech Majewski. The film brings to life Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 masterpiece The Way to Calvary.

Now I want to hear your favorites. Post them in the comments!

John Herreid

John Herreid

John Herreid is catalog manager at Ignatius Press. In addition to catalogs and ads, he has also worked on the cover design for many Ignatius Press books and DVDs. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and four children.

Tags: art literature music visual arts


  1. May 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Ostrov is a film that is well worth seeing. If only American “christian films” could be anywhere near the quality of that piece.

    Have you seen Of Gods and Men? Another great one.

    • John Herreid

      May 23, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      I haven’t yet seen Of Gods and Men, but I’ve heard great things about it. Ostrov is one of those movies that stick in your brain for a long, long time.

  2. May 24, 2014 at 12:30 am

    If I may, I can recommend, a dozen or so highly capable classical/realist painters who are living and working today. For instance, there’s Michael John Angel, Ted Seth Jacobs, Jacob Collins, Donato Giancola, Anthony J. Ryder, and Nelson Shanks. These men are all very talented, at least in terms of technique, and their influence is only growing. Anyway, like you said, Mr. Herrid, good art is hardly dead….if you’re interested is good place to start looking for some sembles of the classical art produced in this ghastly age.

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