A few years ago, I was wandering around Willowbrook Mall in Cypress, TX. I’m sure I was making regular rounds, visiting my typical stores. I was over on the Sears side of the mall, and probably stopped by Old Navy and KB Toys and Radio Shack. As I was heading back to meet up with my family, I saw this painting. There was an art store at the mall for a rather brief time, and it was usually filled with blah pieces, the type of art you might see in a hotel lobby or a random coffeehouse. But this painting… stood out.
It was a scene of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem. It was tall, and you saw everything from the dust of the ground to children shouting from the rooftops. People are waving palm branches, throwing down coats, there are vendors and soldiers and Jews and Gentiles and booths and animals and a multitude of other objects– and there was Jesus. He looked calmly radiant, joyously peaceful, holy, compassionate, kingly and kind. I looked only for a moment at the painting and had to hurry along, but I made a mental note to come back and find out more about the piece.
Well, you know how mental notes work– they don’t. I probably didn’t think about that painting until a couple of months later, and you know how malls are– the store was gone. I had no idea what the painting was called, who painted it, where I could find it again, but I tucked it away in my memory, hoping there would be a lead someday.
Years passed. I would do Google searches here and there, but as time went on, my memory of the painting faded. Was it really the arrival in Jerusalem, or just a scene of Jesus in the city? Was it a truly biblical reference, or was it actually a generic Mediterranean city? Was it really a city or merely a town? How much of the painting really existed and how much did I exaggerate in my mind? I tried all sorts of keywords– Jesus, Triumphal Entrance, Jerusalem, City, Arriving, Riding on a Donkey– but no luck.
Until one day…
I was in the middle of my three week road trip across the country in Spring of 2012. I was visiting friends and family and seminaries and other locations along the way. I was in Charlotte, North Carolina to visit Gordon Conwell’s location there in the city. I arrived at a small one-building campus, though it was still quite pleasant and lovely. They had nice sized rooms and a good library for such a small campus– and there was art everywhere. The whole top floor was filled with an exhibition of student art. The chapel had a lovely fresco called “The Sower” and the chapel itself feels warm and inviting.
Well, as we were walking the halls towards the end of the tour, my guide started to lead me back to the main office when suddenly I saw it: the painting.
I stood in awe and was dumbstruck with glee– I tried to explain to my guide how excited I was to finally find this painting, but I’m sure he thought I was merely being weird. I pulled out my phone and took a quick pic and we headed to the office. And after we were done with our meeting, I toured the building, taking pictures with my good ole Kodak camera and I spent a few minutes enjoying the painting.
When I got home, I met up with a friend and showed her pictures from my trip. As I got to the picture of the painting, I told her the back story and commented on how I really wanted to find a copy of the painting someday. “Well, let’s do it now!” she replied. And after zooming in on the painting, trying to decipher the initials (“Is that an “O” or an “A”?) and guessing the name of the artist, finally, we found him: Tom duBois.
Here is the painting.
Just take a minute and lose yourself in the story. There is so much going on. Imagine you are walking around the busy streets of Jerusalem, people rushing here and there, and suddenly, the crowd parts and you see a man riding in on a donkey. The people seem to be in awe of his presence and throw down coats and palm branches as an act of reverence and joy. Children shout hosannas, people whisper and cheer, the hustle and bustle a hubbub of Jerusalem seems to stop– for this man.
And if you haven’t yet been inspired by this lush scene, go here to the website for his organization, Triune Art, and read about each of the characters in the story! (Unfortunately, the rest of the links at the site don’t work, but this page does and it’s truly eye-opening!) Check it out: http://www.triuneart.org/breakouts/
I love duBois’s pieces for the intricate detail and busyness and complexity within. At times, yes, it seems like overkill, but each element of each painting has a reason for its existence, a part of the larger story. Here are a couple of his other works that I really enjoy. (Hover over the picture for title.)
Pretty much everywhere I look, I find this description of duBois: “Tom duBois has the gift of seeing the world through a child’s eyes.” No wonder I like him! In fact, one of his favorite quotes is this one from Picasso: “Every child is an artist, the problem is remaining a child once you grow up.” How great is that?
Perhaps this is why I truly enjoy his work. Everything is grand and majestic, yet calming and simple. The landscapes are large and complex, but the feeling is warm and bright. The portraits are intimate and real, yet mysterious and awe-inspiring. He paints a gamut of subjects, yet the most impressive are his Biblical scenes. (And for you Disney fans, Tom has even done some Disney prints!)
Apparently Tom was ardently against faith, but was led to the Christian faith after studying all the belief systems. Here’s a quote from him on faith: “The visual artist has no excuse not to be a convicted believer. Once the Scripture picture is revealed, the artist who has spent his entire lifetime training his eyes to see, cannot help but see a picture in Holy Scripture so vivid, so clear, and so certain that it is simply impossible not to be passionately inspired to create works to bring glory to God in the name of Jesus Christ!” How great is that?
As I’ve researched Tom’s story and his work, I found out he studied at the American Academy of Art up here in Chicago! Amazed at the possibility he might still be here, I did some more research and I came to another amazing discovery: Tom now lives in Houston, TX! Maybe if things work out, someday when I’m down in Texas I’ll get to meet the man. In the meantime, here’s a quote from duBois:
“Since I began painting Biblical scenes, much has changed in my life. The research I found necessary in the beginning became more and more important to me. I studied the Bible, but I also studied thousands of painting by artists who have walked this path before me. On several occasions, part of paintings “painted” themselves until, over several years, I have to admit that much was not my own doing – a far greater artist/creator was at work leading me in His direction.”
A few months ago, I finally purchased a duBois print and will soon be putting it up here at my apartment. If you would like to see more of duBois’s work, and perhaps purchase one of your own prints or canvases, here are a few places that I would recommend. Hope you enjoyed the post and look for more Inspirational Artists as time goes by!
http://www.garlandartrep.com/– As far as I can tell, this is his actual home page.
http://www.triuneart.org/breakouts/– This is Triune Art’s website, but every other part of the site seems to be closed. This page as of February 11, 2013 still works though!
http://www.tomdubois.com/– This site has a few of his pieces.
http://www.fortuneart.net/TomduBois/tom_dubois.htm– This is where I purchased my “Hosanna!” print.
http://www.somersetfineart.com/s-1046-dubois-tom.aspx– A great selection of his work!
Just found this video of Tom speaking about “Hosanna!” and it includes a guitar performance! Even more reason to see duBois as a truly inspirational artist.