Art Applied to Evangelism

Applying art for the beautifying of Christian service.

By J.L. Butler

When art is employed for the beau­tifying of Christian service, then it has many opportunities. No complete cata­logue can ever be made of the many ways that it can be applied to evangel­ism; but in the hope of awakening a new appreciation of the service of evangelistic art, and developing latent talent, I present herewith a few sketches made from photographs, with slight alterations.

Sketch No. 1 represents a roadside billboard done in oil paint, measuring eight feet high by sixteen feet long. In the lower left-hand corner is a frame holding a removable, two-sided blackboard, on which the daily lectures are advertised. The location of the tabernacle or tent is indicated on a separate board placed at the top of the frame, thus providing for the use of the billboard in different cities without alteration. The entire structure is in knock-down form, convenient for ship­ping. A commercial billboard such as the one illustrated is worth about $200. The actual cost of this one is $20, plus one week of work.

Sketch No. 2 presents a sample of automobile advertising that proved to be one of the most effective methods of attracting the attention of the people. The boxlike frame on top of the car was covered with regular sign-writers' cloth, on which the daily subjects were displayed and sometimes illustrated. When a change of subject was to be announced, a coat of quick-drying white paint was applied, and the new subject painted in its place.

Sketch No. 3 shows a twenty-foot balloon, semitransparent and lighted electrically from the inside, making it appear like a great golden moon in the evening sky. A balloon of this size is visible within a radius of several miles, and the words can be read for a distance of half a mile. Judging from the "Goodyear ten-foot rubber balloon," which retails at $160, such a balloon as the one illustrated would be worth $250, but the actual cost is only $60, plus three weeks' intermittent labor. This balloon is made of a fine grade of bleached muslin, and rendered air­tight by three coats of linseed oil and paraffin, Tarpon fishline cords hold the balloon to the main sash-cord rope. The balloon may be filled with cooking gas at a, cost of about $8. If one-third hydrogen gas is used, it will remain more upright in the wind. The balloon is anchored by a special pulley device to the top of one of the big tent's cen­ter poles. In severe, windy weather it Is brought to the ground and held sta­tionary by passing two ropes over it at right angles to each other, the ropes being drawn tight and fastened to stakes.

Sketch No. 4 gives three samples of card posters, suitable for being placed in post office, bank, railroad sta­tion, etc., or at the entrance of the tent or tabernacle. Two of these post­ers provide for a miniature black­board, by placing a piece of black or other colored paper behind an opening in the poster. On this inserted sheet, special announcement of sermon, med­ical lecture, or song 'service may be made to suit the occasion.

Sketch No 5 shows an easel black­board for use in parks, on street cor­ners, or in other ,public places where proper permission is obtained for plac­ing it. The permanent lettering on this blackboard is done in goldleaf and sil­ver paint, and reads: "Bible Chautau­qua, 4 Blocks East, To-night! [Then follows the subject, with letters in chalk or colored calcimine]. Special MusicFree [Time; Location]." Ex­tra good lettering in the permanent words is essential in order to attract attention.

Sketch No. 6 gives a view of the en­trance to the canvas tabernacle. The arch over the entrance 'is made of can­vas stretched over a light frame of composition wall board. The surface is flat, though it appears to be made of chiseled stone. A row of sixteen elec­tric lights at the top makes an attrac­tive display at night. On each side of the entrance is a blackboard, measur­ing three by six feet, both sides of which are usable. Above each board is a row of five lights. Shavings and saw­dust are sprinkled in abundance be­tween the blackboards and from the sidewalk leading inside the tent to the rostrum. During storms the black­boards are protected by plain un­bleached muslin curtains that are stretched over them and held away from the boards at the center by sewed-in laths. People watch for new subjects and illustrations on these black­boards, and readily pass between them into the tent. These mechanical door keepers are very effective for increas­ing the attendance at services.

Sketch No. 7 shows a style of ros­trum which is artistic, useful, moder­ate in cost, and very easily constructed. It combines the dignity and the sim­plicity of the terraced designs, such as are seen now in some of the world's most magnificent buildings. The wood­work of this rostrum should be painted a fiat white, three coats. The wall­board panels at the back are tinted with a delicate calcimine, such as chrome cream. The burlap at the front is usually a dark green. A flood light from the front center pole of the tent floods the rostrum with light. The background of the rostrum serves sev­eral purposes,—(a) It acts as a sound­ing board, (b) provides a temporary place to hang charts, (c) enhances the attractiveness of the canvas tabernacle.

This design of rostrum may be used either at the center of the side of the tent, or it may be placed in the end. If placed in the end of the tent, it leaves a space behind that can be converted into living quarters for the tent mas­ter, and also afford a " prayer room " in which the workers may meet just before the service. Another advantage in being placed at the end of the tent is that there is space enough above the background to mount a portable screen for stereopticon lectures. The screen has a frame that sets down over the top two-by-four of the background, like U-clamps. It may be left rolled up until after the song service, and re­moved entirely next morning.

The size of the rostrum is deter­mined by the size of the tent. The ros­trum illustration may be floored on a level from A to B, or only between the two center pillars, according to choir and orchestra requirements. But a ros­trum must be practical for all neces­sary purposes, as well as artistic and ornamental, and the provision for loca­tion of piano and seating of the choir and orchestra is of great importance, hence a few suggestions:

If there is no choir or orchestra, place the piano to the speaker's right — the left of the picture. If there is a choir only, or a choir and an orches­tra, then place the piano at the center, in front of the pulpit, on a small floor of its own, so that the accompanist can easily see the director and soloists. Place the orchestra in front of the rostrum also, and on either side of the piano. If the rostrum is sufficiently large, the choir may be placed on one side of the rostrum and slightly facing the orchestra on the other, with the piano between the two and on the ros­trum floor. A grand piano is best in this case; but if an ordinary upright is used, turn the instrument endwise so the accompanist can see the leader and musicians. A couple of potted ferns placed on pedestals at the back of the piano, will give a pleasing effect.

When the rostrum is only moder­ately large, and the choir is of medium size (possibly in evidence on Sunday nights only), the piano is put to the speaker's right, while the choir occu­pies all the remaining floor space dur­ing the song service. The chairs are removed while the congregation sings the last song before the evangelist en­ters. With all the details previously arranged for, this can be quietly and quickly done without disturbing the evening's program.

San Fernando, Calif.


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By J.L. Butler

July 1928

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