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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Nativity naivete

At about this time most Metro East Coasters embark on a traffic-laden pilgrimage up or down 49th or 50th Streets to 45 Rockefeller Plaza to behold with childlike wonder the glitzy glory of the Rockefeller Center Tree. The multi-colored radiance of the evergreen behemoth seems to energize (or re-energize) their Holiday Spirits. But not me.

Atheist that I am, I am a sucker for this angel-bedecked Christmas Tree.......

........and most especially for the collection of baroque Nativity figures surrounding its base.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's "Neapolitan Christmas Tree" and creche figurines.

But don't take this as some sign that I am on the verge of conversion. Remember I have also admitted being a great lover of religious music. And nothing beats the ales made by Trappist Monks! So no, I just love the beauty of this ornate layout in the same way I love the layout of Tim Burton's 'Christmas Town'......

...which, if you have read up on the current findings by Bible scholars, is probably just as authentic as those rustic stables, trumpeting angels, and adoring monarchs. Don't gasp, it's true. You can look it up if you like. The whole traditional Nativity scene as we know it is the result of centuries of embellishment upon an incorrect translation of what a 0 BCE/CE "inn" was and where the resulting "manger" would have been. (Hint: It wasn't an outdoor stable, but probably the basement area of an already-full relative's home where animals were brought in for the evening.) But where's the charm in that? Something like this is much nicer:

Not 100%, but VERY close to the nativity I grew up with.

And as an artist, the notion of taking liberties with the truth to tell a more interesting or pleasing tale, is not completely reprehensible. So it isn't surprising that other ethnicities have taken the "classical" misrepresentation of the Nativity and misrepresented it even fit their cultures. In Peru for example you can find 'retablo' Nativities:

I mean if Europeans can have a lily-white blonde Jesus, why can't South Americans have an Andean one?

The question then becomes 'how far are you willing to go?' In the case of this Irish Nativity, the answer is......pretty far:

I have to admit that this Gaelic gathering made me so ethnically jealous that I searched hard to find a Polish equivalent. (Of course my fear was that a Polish Nativity would feature Jesus wrapped in a bowling shirt, and contain no shepherds or Magi.....since they would have no doubt gotten lost along the way.) But ultimately I did find something very Polish .........................and probably quite tasty:

And as long as we're taking liberties, why limit the alterations to ethnicity? Why can't monsters have a nice manger scene?

To be honest, about 9 years ago I had this idea to make a "Zombie Nativity" but had difficulty in finding the right base figurines to work from. Time went by and then? Someone else had the same idea and got famous for putting it out on their lawn:

I'm so fucking jealous!

Of course, one need not be elaborate to be original. Consider the simplicity of this Nativity:

Too austere for you? No can always dress things up a bit:

Not a soda drinker? Still no problem:

But for a true Nativity buff, what could be better than being your own Nativity.......and in the buff?

It looks like these boys have "un-donned their gay apparel". 
 (Oh come on....don't be so shocked.......even the bible indicates that Jesus had two daddies.)

Still maybe a more hetero approach is in order? And so I leave you all with this:

Here's to getting a little piece on Earth and good will towards everybody!
(But hey gang.......take that party down to the basement where it belongs, OK?)