Playdates with God: Mr. Fitz

Mr. Fitz
Portrait of Herbert Fitzpatrick
My new favorite playground may not have come to be if it wasn’t for Mr. Fitz.

It was Herbert Fitzpatrick along with other visionaries who in 1947 began discussing the idea of a cultural center or museum in Huntington. Mr. Fitzpatrick jumpstarted the project with the donation of 52 acres for a site to erect an art gallery to store his collection, as well as provide for an arboretum, bird sanctuary and nature trails. The Huntington Galleries (now known as the Huntington Museum of Art) opened in 1952.  (From the Huntington Museum of Art’s website).

Currently, the museum has an exhibit dedicated to Mr. Fitz’s art collection—over 400 pieces donated to start the gallery—and the history of his vision. The installation celebrates 60 years of the museum serving our community.

So I pay tribute to Mr. Fitz as I continue my visits on freeTuesday. I read every plaque, look at photos of groundbreaking ceremonies, watch videos of early exhibits and openings…and then I wander through his collection.
The way the skies glow in the oils seems a prayer to me—sheen of paint taking on heaven’s luminosity. And there are prayer rugs that I long to touch, wonder if anyone ever bent knee on their velvety threads. I like the silver and the sculptures but it is a simple etching I keep coming back to. I’ve never heard of the artist but he captures joy and I lean in close with my vellum and graphite. It’s called Fairy Tales and I smile each time I pass this small piece.
Fairy Tales by Edmund Blampied
Fairy Tales by Edmund Blampied
And then there is the dancer. She looks easy to sketch, so I give her a try.
Reclining Dancer by Matisse
Reclining Dancer by Henri Matisse
This is my quiet time this morning. These smooth lines my prayer.

The Kiss by Auguste Rodin (detail)
The Kiss by Auguste Rodin (detail)
River in Normandy by Frita Thaulow
River in Normandy by Fritz Thaulow (detail)
Venetian Scene by Charles Cousin
Venetian Scene by Charles Cousin
When I have exhausted Mr. Fitz, I wander through an exhibit of Tom Nakishima’s Treepiles. Oh, how I wish I could photograph these beauties. But it’s against the rules. His images of bulldozed piles of trees from a construction site were inspired by deforestation, complex relationships, and his own observations on aging. Stewart’s Stickpile is made from acrylic and mixed media and pages of newsprint from the stock market numbers have been pressed in strips to form the branches and the trees. Every once in a while a face in black and white peers out from the gnarly black sticks mingled with market umbers. I find this unsettling.
The afternoon is dwindling, so I must go. When I leave, I trail behind a young woman slow-walking arm-in-arm with an elderly lady. They young one leans low to hear the words of the other. We step into the cold and the young one leaves her on the steps to go get the car to pick her up. I smile at her as I pass.
“It’s still cool,” I say, as I descend the steps.
She smiles back.
“The birds don’t seem to mind, though,” she says.
I lift my head and hear them, then, and I understand how she listens better than I. And as I make my way to the van, it begins to snow.

*Over at The High Calling today, we are continuing our book club discussion on Ann Kroeker‘s Not so Fast. It’s the perfect book to read after Easter–a book to help us maintain the slowing down and focus on God. Seth Haines writes today. Will you join us?

 How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:


the Playdates button:


  1. OutnumberedMom says

    “The birds don’t seem to mind, though” — she hears better than I do. I love that! I think, Laura, your spirit is just like a sponge…soaking up all it sees and hears. Thanks for sharing those thing with us!

  2. says

    Love how you’re so open to seeing the world through fresh eyes all the time. My daughter is taking an Art History class at Auburn this semester, and it’s opening her eyes to see things she’s not seen before. She had to visit the art museum there and discovered to her surprise that she loved it. So much beauty of His beauty around us; how much am I still blind to?

  3. Nancy Sturm says

    Amazing, isn’t it, how many ways God speaks to our souls? The beauty of the artists’ works, the songs of the birds, the words of a talented writer. Today I struggle with concerns for friends in crisis and stopping to hear and see God’s beauty has been such a blessing. Thank you, Laura.

  4. bluecottonmemory says

    I love the joy in Fairy Tales – Wishing every moment could be that sweet – and then ending with the Venetian – the yellows and golds are so beautiful, too – a joy beautiful! What a blessing to be able to spend time like that!!! Thank you for taking me with you, via your post!

  5. Pam OBrien says

    Laura, the more I read of what interests and inspires you, the more I think we must be soul sisters. Lingering alone in an art gallery to scrutinize the works of known, or unknown, artists and to ponder what must have motivated them to create such a piece is a favorite pass-time of mine (though seldom relished), and I used to love to sketch and paint, though haven’t enjoyed that creative outlet for so. many. years! 25 or more?! Life is so busy. For goodness’ sake… I really need to get my hands on Ann’s book, don’t it?! I have to admit, though, like your elderly acquaintance, I do often notice the birds’ song. It’s one of my favorite sounds.
    Heart-leavening post, Laura!

  6. says

    When I was a young girl I used to go downtown with my friends and shop and get cokes and french fries at Walgreens. Sometimes, I would go all by myself. (I know…parents wouldn’t let their kids do it today.) My plan was always to go to the huge library with the distinctive aroma and pick up an armload of reading. But, next door, was the art museum where I took classes on Saturday mornings. I enjoyed going there without my classmates to look at the paintings and sculptures. And in the summer it was a respite from the heat. Often I would stop there first before loading up on books. I so appreciate the vision of the benefactor of those two places which had a remarkable impact on my life. It is rare that a town of that size would have such things…yet we did. And words and art have been a big part of my life since.
    Enjoy your art visits Laura…and the peace and quiet too.

  7. Linda Chontos says

    You inspire me to look deep and listen more closely Laura. Thank you for sharing your visits. I can almost feel the the stillness.

  8. Mia says

    Dear Laura
    Your descriptions and pictures make me want to jump on the first plane over to the USA just to come and join you on this wonderful tour into the hearts of these artists! But I must add that I am blessed every day by a lot of different species of birds in our garden frolicking and singing to their heart’s delight!
    Blessings to you

  9. says

    Those who have paved the way should be honored. I am glad you can enjoy a Free day at the Museum along with others who are happy to take advantage of a lovely day even if it is cool.

  10. Shelly Miller says

    Love these little jaunts you take us on, like a tour guide painting beauty, soaking in the simple joys of life.

  11. Jody Collins says

    Laura, this visit with you to the museum just made me smile. Oh, such beauty and thought provoking work! What a Creator we have…..

  12. says

    Your post makes me think of those long ago days when my husband (then- fiance) and I roamed art museums all over Europe during our study abroad semester. We would so often long to know the story behind each painting. Your words make me wish I had an art museum near by. And listening? Oh, my- the fact that you noticed someone listening well is proof that you are listening with your eyes and your heart. I just created a “sign” with my middle child to help me listen better- she tugs at her ear when I’m not TRULY listening. Humbling how often her hand slides to her ear. UGGH!

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