'Up Through the Endless Ranks of Angels'

by John Bergmeier

About the Exhibit

Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the first fruits of all your increase.
–Proverbs 3:9

From the beginning of the Old Testament to the end of the New, returning to our Creator the first fruits of what has already been given us—in talent, labor, and wealth—stands as a hallmark of God’s faithful people. The entire biblical narrative is filled with images of feasting, fruitfulness, and faithful service in which both God’s people and kingdom flourish. Joyfully and creatively engaging in the good work that God has given us to do, yielding our best efforts to the Lord, we return our first offering to him.


For more information on upcoming venues, consult the First Fruits Exhibit Schedule.

'The Reinterpretation of the Full Armor of God'

by Lee Benson

Image: “Pleasant to the Sight” by Delro Rosco, courtesy of the artist.​

‘The Nurture’
Ikonic Mixed-Media Construction, 26”h x 20”w x 3”d

First Fruits

Saint Eustace Fine Art

'40 Days Forty Sacraments' by Kari Dunham

'Lengthening' by Keith Barker

'The Nurture' by Robert Eustace

'Leaves' by Heidy Chuang

Cover Art by : Shehan Hazine

​Diptych 'Dairy Farm, Weld CO, 1980 and 2014'

by Kathy Hettinga

'The Sum of My Parts' by Megan Murphy

Untitled (Measurement Ultra Life) by Gene Schmidt

Four Chapter Gallery, Kansas City MO

Opening Reception June 1, 2018

About the Juror

CIVA thanks Joel Sheesley for serving as the juror for this exhibit, a daunting task given the unusually large number of submissions. Sheesley is a painter and Emeritus Professor of art at Wheaton College. He currently works with The Conservation Foundation in northeastern Illinois, painting the Fox River Valley landscape, where he contributes a valuable aesthetic dimension to the foundation’s overall concern for environmental education. Joel’s paintings have been exhibited widely and upcoming shows for 2016-2017 include the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan; the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Michigan City, Indiana; and the Walford Galleries at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois.

Artist's Statement

It is the eternal theme of ‘The Tree’ as in ‘The Tree of Life’, that continues to speak into and inform my creative work – forever rooted in my earliest childhood memories. And this acts for me as this healing/ cleansing place to which I always find myself returning to – as in a magnet of polarity. Thus, I have named the series of ‘Ikonic Mixed-Media Constructions’ and related ‘Suite of Drawings’ as ‘Tree of Souls’ –or- in the longer more descriptive format: ‘In the Midst of the Garden of the Tree of Souls’…. Included in the series to date: ‘The Nurture’ (2012), ‘The Enclosed Garden’ (2012), ‘Enlightment’… In Autumn (2016) and (2) new additional works slated for completion in late 2017 or early 2018.

Around 2009, I discovered the following passage that proved instrumental in steering me towards the creation of a new series of work: ‘Tree of Souls’ which would serve to complement and run parallel to my ongoing long term series: ‘Aenigmate’ ‘or in essence [to see and ascertain in this present ‘shadow world’ only as in looking through a dark glass]….

[“God Has A Tree Of Flowering Souls In Paradise. The Angel who sits beneath it is the guardian of Paradise, and the tree is surrounded by the four winds of the world. From this tree, blossoms forth all souls, as it is said, “I am like a cypress tree in bloom; your fruit issues forth from me”. (HOSEA 14:9) And at the roots of this tree sprout the souls of all the righteous ones whose names are inscribed there. When the souls grow ripe, they descend into the TREASURY OF SOULS, where they are stored until they are called to be born… [* in my piece = the pure potentiality of the tiny ‘blue pod’ seedlings]…. From this we learn that all souls are the fruit of the Holy One, blessed be He. This ‘Tree of Souls’ produces all the souls that have ever existed, or will ever exist. And when the last soul descends, the world as we know it will come to an end.”]


​From : “Tree of Souls” :The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz
Oxford University Press, 2004… ‘Tree of Souls’ (passage 199, page 164)

During September of 2009, I had the distinct of meeting and entering into a significantly meaningful relationship with Michele, a lovely woman and counterpart, who possessed deep mystical sacred affinities, that included her unique perspectives on Catholicism and the Healing Arts. Our relationship continues to survive as a strong distant friendship. She remains a gift from God. Late one evening, I shared with Michelesome experimental preliminary large-scale drawings of an exotic symbolic shape that I had worked out to define the contours of some future works of art. A few days later I received the email ‘gift’ of her following words (on Sunday, March 21, 2010):

[…”I was contemplating upon your new creative project and then I wished to further comment that: I feel that the points jutting outwards (almost as rectangles) are reaching, extending out to me, while the rounded areas are gently taking (embracing) me inwards, as to nurture and shelter me….

{There can also be present the interpretation of the sacred feminine symbol of the implied triangle itself). I find the design in synchronization for their reciprocity of this sensation of casting outwards and receiving inwards. Mother Mary is exactly this synchronization: she graciously and precisely heeds our attention in her myriad of tender mannerisms and venerated manifestations while their simultaneously drawing us to her Immaculate Heart and Sacred Breast”….]

background : 'Eucharist' by Kristin van Mourick

foreground : 'The Sum of My Parts' by Megan Murphy