The Painters Who Travel From Town to Town
Interview with daniel Baltzer
the Limner Society is an organization comprised of artists of Christian faith who desire to see a visual arts renaissance in Church and society. We are a community scattered around the US and abroad.
Derived from the French luminer and from the Latin luminare, limner means “to illuminate,” “adorn.” In medieval Europe, a limner was an illuminator of manuscripts. Later, in 18th-century America, a limner was an itinerant painter who usually had little formal training. These painters were known to travel from town to town, painting portraits for common people or landscapes of farms. (website)
Location: International, office based in New York City
More info: www.limnersociety.com
What is your mission?
To inspire a visual arts renaissance that will invigorate the Body of Christ and convey God’s love to the world in authentic, relevant, and creative ways.
The individual champions of this movement are visual artists of Christian faith, whom tLS encourages, equips, and edifies in their faith and in their art making; so they may steward their gifts and embrace their role in the redemption story.
What are your primary activities?
The Gathering was the genesis of tLS and continues to be a primary program. It is a weeklong art-making workshop followed by an exhibition and auction of works created. It is the “itinerant” part of tLS, taking place in a different location each time, and pursues a visual arts renaissance in three ways: edifying the church, creating art in community, and participating in cultural dialogue.
Edifying the church
We begin by offering our State of the Arts program to the host community leadership and members. The program educates leaders about visual art and its intrinsic value, to help them see ways of utilizing visual art in their community and share the ideas in the program with their community. The Limner artists also host an open studio and discussion meals with the host community.
Creating art in community
Limner artists create art in community, based on a common theme, which allows a healthy dialogue that challenges and sharpens the artists’ concepts. A diverse community of artists creates an atmosphere that encourages refinement of techniques and application. Our connection to the host community and fellowship in spirit integrates our faith into the art-making process.
Participating in cultural dialogue
Finally, we bring this interaction to a wider audience and take our place in the greater cultural dialogue. We exhibit the works created from the studio week in a public exhibition and silent auction, to share our voice with the larger community surrounding our hosts, and to heighten the community’s value of art. The auction encourages patronage, supports a charity selected with the host, and furthers the tLS mission.
What is the history of the project?
Early in 2002, four Taylor University art grads, daniel Baltzer, Jason Diller, Stefan Eicher, and Derek Powell, were discussing ideas of using their connection of faith, art, and friendship as the basis for making art. It was obvious that God had stirred the conversation and given each of us a vision. We set out making our plans for the first Gathering in Indianapolis, followed in subsequent years by Gatherings in New York City, Phoenix, Orlando, Joplin, and Chiang Mai, Thailand.
We entered 2009 with a new vision, a visual arts renaissance in church and society, and a new status as an official non-profit organization. That same year we launched new programs–Illumine (a devotional guide for artists) and State of the Arts (our interactive presentation for church leaders)–that have increased our opportunities to edify the church, encourage artists of faith, and share quality art with a larger audience.
In 2012, we will be shifting our focus toward supporting Limner members who are building programs within their local communities, through our new Seed Initiatives.
Where have you seen the project bear fruit?
The fruit has been seen most in the individual lives, creative work, and service through new projects of Limner members who have been deeply processing together. For example, Limner member Stefan Eicher started Reflection Art Gallery and residency program in New Delhi, India, after a Gathering reoriented his whole focus in ministry.
We have also seen the communities we have partnered with in Gatherings find new ways of integrating art into their approach to “doing church.” Roosevelt Community Church (Phoenix) began an onsite art studio program and gallery after the Gathering was held there.
And we’ve supported local visual arts programs like Harrison Center for the Arts (Indianapolis), a host community that needed programming in the infancy of its operations. We provided a vibrant exhibition to showcase their space and efforts when they needed visi¬bility most.
What have your leadership challenges been?
Our greatest challenge has been identifying and cultivating members who align with the vision of tLS and agree with the need, but are also willing to invest their time and resources in its progress. My giftedness is in identifying and facilitating people’s gifts, not in micromanaging them. So it has been difficult seeing volunteers take on important tasks only to measure their input according to what they might receive from us, instead of focusing on how well they can accomplish it.
I suppose it’s necessary for us to be clearer about the roles and expectations of members. This is not a passive organization in which you simply pay your dues and receive emails–Limner membership requires deep involvement, and that is where the member will find the real benefits of affiliating with us, not merely in consuming the services we might provide to them.
Where do you envision the project going in the coming years?
Through our new Seed Initiatives, we will support individual artists who are walking out the Limner core values of living, loving, learning, and laboring as an artist of faith on the local level. This support will include leadership, a support structure, accountability, and resources (educational materials, art materials, funding, etc.).
We will continue to hold itinerant Gatherings around the world; publish the Illumine devotional; and develop and offer our State of the Arts program for church leaders.
Our website will expand soon to offer social networking among visual artists of Christian faith, to dialogue and collaborate both locally and globally. The site already contains a discussion forum, online galleries, blogs, and store.
How can someone get involved?
A visual artist may become a Limner member after attending a Gathering as a “guest Limner” by invitation or by application. If the guest wishes to transition to full membership, the artist must agree to uphold tLS core values, and to serve and support tLS, through both time and membership dues.
The next Gathering will be May 25-28, 2012 in NYC. This year will be unlike others. We do not plan to have any hands-on art making sessions; instead our plans are to share the Limner vision with new people from all over the US, and create space for deep discussion of how to accomplish our mission. To join us, please apply by March 1 here.
If you cannot attend the Gathering, but would like more information, write us on the website Contact page.
Hosting a Gathering through your church or arts organization would be a great opportunity to develop the visual arts in your community, and their integration into community life and outreach. See the website for info, and contact us to discuss further.
daniel Baltzer is the Executive Director of tLS. He is a New York City based visual artist currently working on a series of paintings entitled broadcast. They are collage-like oil paintings on panel that deal with the evolution of relationship and networking, using communication technology.
daniel has participated in every Limner Society Gathering since 2002. The Gatherings give daniel a chance to explore and refine a number of different approaches to his art making. The diversity in the material applications and techniques applied are obvious in his Limner work.