Monday, July 15, 2013

Of beer and Texas

The story of an icon and St. Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, TX. It's yet another wonderful post from the Orthodox Arts Journal.

(Orthodox Arts Journal) - It is traditional for breweries in France and Belgium to have a statue, painting or icon of St. Arnold in order to bless the brewery and all of the beer made there. We had sought a likeness of St. Arnold without any success. Then we read an article in the New York Times (March 18, 2000) about Father Andrey Davydov. He is a Russian Orthodox priest in Pskov, Russia. This being the age of the web, we e-mailed him.

At first he sounded interested in our project. Then he became a bit more elusive. Unbeknownst to us, he was being deluged with e-mails by others that had read the article. But we were persistent. Still nothing. We sent one last email to him, pleading our case, attempting to convince him we were worthy and that we would try to get publicity for his cause. To our surprise, he was suddenly interested. He had noticed in the last email that we were in Houston where his older sister lived. He had not seen her in seven years. He agreed to the icon. As we discussed the project further, the idea of his visiting us (and his sister) and painting a fresco here began to take shape. All the details were worked out. We had to send a letter to the American consulate in St. Petersburg extending an invitation to him. We also had to accept financial responsibility if he stayed. He had to convince the consulate that he wasn’t going to desert his family and church and remain in America. Apparently that proved not to be difficult as after he presented his case, the consulate was telling him to stay in the U.S. longer.

The icon was completed in December 2000 and shipped over ahead of time, arriving at the brewery on December 26, 2000. In January 2001, Fr. Andrey sent us a list of materials needed for the fresco. These included year old slaked lime and marble dust – not your everyday items. We called around, discussed slaked lime plaster with old time plasterers (lime is rarely used today in building) and finally found everything needed. On February 1, 2001, Fr. Andrey and his son, Phillip, arrived in Houston after a 20 hour flight. On the February 2, they told us perhaps they would like to paint the fresco at his sister’s house. We didn’t like that idea and quickly went down to her house to delicately persuade him to our point of view, hoping to not make any cultural blunders. The next day he came up to check out our brewery to see if it would be suitable. We were brewing when he arrived and the sweet smell of malt filled the air. He began to warm to us. We showed him the malt, talked to him about our passion for beer. We tasted our beers. We were deemed worthy. He would build the frame at his sister’s house but paint the fresco at the brewery...
Complete post here.

No comments:

Post a Comment