All Images Copyright of James Mellick
The Art of James Mellick: Messengers
The Messengers, 1991
Private Collector, Amsterdam; from SOFA Chicago 1996
Life-sized; Walnut, curly maple with bronze and copper details
(The cockatoo and German Shepherd dog of "The Messengers" are based upon my brother David's first dog and a bird image in one of his paintings. David Mellick was my mentor, a professional philosopher and amateur painter who started my thinking and painting. We were very close. He died of a rare cancer at the age of thirty-nine. This writing illuminating the sculpture is a conversation between God and myself concerning his death)
"I am lonely. I've never healed from losing my brother."
"Why this brother? People lose brothers all the time."
"This brother made rational sense of an irrational world. You should have known him best. He believed in You. He could have been one of Your greatest apologists. Do You know....? Of course You do! You know the risk that faith in You presents in intellectual circles. It is unreasonable that You took a reasonable believer."
"What is reasonable about a day being no different than a thousand years to Me? What is reasonable about the rain falling upon the fields of the just and the unjust? What is reasonable about good people dying young? What is reasonable about feeding the sparrow while millions of children die of starvation? Can a vessel which holds the water understand the nature and the source of that water? Can a rational mind know the source of reason?
"From your creation I gave you reason and I gave you dominion over the earth. Look what you have done to it! Do you call that reasonable? You are a vessel of reason, how can you comprehend its source? Your greed made a royal mess of the Garden and now you want to pin it on Me. I use 'you' collectively. Though I can be a personal God, I don't mean anything personally because you are just as guilty as anyone else. Sin is inherited you know--from that fiasco in the Garden. But that's why I gave you freedom of choice. What good would reason be if you were not a 'free agent'?"
"Are You going to intervene in this world's spiral toward Hell, or is this a part of Your pre-determination? Where is Your face in all of this? My brother was a good man. He was highly intelligent and he believed in You--those phenomena are mutually exclusive to many reasonable people. He was a loving husband and while he hated deceit and small-mindedness with a passion, he was forgiving and never held a grudge against anyone..."
"Now what's wrong?"
"Now I miss him even more."
"Well, you may not think much of My intervening, but I'm a great facilitator! Why don't you send him a message? Tell him you love him...look, I'll tell you what to do, providing you don't mind My giving you inspiration.
"People have always had trouble reasoning My second commandment about making images and My later explicit instructions for my first temple. I never said you couldn't make representations of animals. I just didn't want you worshipping the creation instead of the Creator.
"You've always wanted to do a sculpture of David's dog. Why?
"He was my brother's first dog, the dog of our teenage years and the companion for many miles of hiking and camping."
"Why don't you send the dog on one more journey, but this time with a message for your brother. Make a part of this dog from the walnut scraps your brother kept from his lathe turning days. They are symbols, they are the scraps thrown to a struggling truth seeker in an unreasonable world. But don't send him alone. From one of David's unfinished paintings, give the companionship of a cockatoo as a spirit guide.