For Paul and Liza Drozdowski
It is customary for the best man to say something embarrassing about the groom, complimentary towards bride meeting groom, and toast the couple’s happiness. But there is nothing embarrassing to divulge regarding the 15 years I’ve known Paul, and he and Liza are of such character they could vouch for me. The best people in life do not need to be spoken well of; their words and deeds speak volumes alone. They know their strengths and faults, and are continually at work correcting the latter. It is sometimes best to indulge their shyness regarding praise.
What I do need to discuss is Paul’s work. All of you know Paul paints icons, which are somehow of traditional significance. Fewer know that icons are a window into sacred space, that unrealistic backgrounds and unnatural poses stem from our inability to comprehend the divine. Still fewer have wondered if windows work two ways.
It would be a mistake to call Paul’s work underappreciated because, in truth, all art is unappreciated. Even in times of better patronage, patrons would collect works like one collects trading cards: get many, some will appreciate in value, and you will have your reward. This is not simply the problem that art reduces to money: this is the problem that money, in turn, reduces to self-indulgence.
I am waiting for the day when Paul can more explicitly paint for all of us, when the particular strives outward for the universal. But that day depends on who we are in our lives. Paul and Liza do not need us to make a toast for their happiness: they know how to support each other, respect each other, work toward each other’s happiness, and even receive help human and divine. But we will toast anyway: the foundations of custom are anything but customary, but our appreciation of value begins somewhere.