How did fine arts lead to a career in manufacturing, and a second career as a business professor? That is too long a story for this time and place. But, as I have told my students, one never knows when his schooling will become relevant, though, in time, most of it will, often in ways that thrill us. An example is in Sunday's Moldavia post. My fascination with the depicted outcropping of shale and slate, both formations standing nearly on edge, but with contrasting shear planes, and my recognition of the differing ages and types (sedementary and metamorphic rock) was a result of my having taken Geology 101 at Amherst.
At Putna we spent on Saturday over an hour walking the grounds and going through the museum. When we came out of the museum, my arthritic right hip was aching, and I was hungry. Alexandru asked, "Do you want to go into the church?" I said, "I do not feel compelled... Well, okay, if you'd like to." I came that close to missing my meeting with Mihai Moroşan ("Moroshan").
Moroşan at work in Putna Monastery
When I saw Moroşan at work, I walked to his scaffold, and stood watching for at least five minutes. Then, he turned to me, and our grey beards produced immediate rapport. I introduced myself, mentioning that I was a visiting professor in Cluj, from a small university in New Hampshire. He asked in perfect English, "Hampshire? U.K?" I replied, "No, NEW Hampshire, USA."
Mr. Moroșan said, "USA! I have worked in Los Angeles and San Diego. I love San Diego."
We talked for at least the next twenty minutes. Mihai speaks Romanian, Greek, English, German, French, and Arabic, and "gets by" in Italian and Spanish. He has two sons living in Cyprus, where he owns a second home. They, too, are fresco artists, and are helping to paint a church on that island, under Mihai's direction. Moroşan had two students/apprentices working with him at Putna, as well, painting the borders of his frescoed saints' faces. It appeared that he alone was doing the faces. It was dark in the church. I asked if I might take his picture, and he consented, so long as I not use a flash. The image above was digitally brightened. Here is the original.
Mihai Moroşan is my latest friend in Romania. I hope to see him again, and to accept his invitation to bring Shirley to his home to meet his wife and family. I hope to hear more of his stories, for those that he told in our brief time together were spellbinding. (As the time he faced a firing squad in Syria, accused of being a spy. He credits his knowledge of Arabic with his very life.)
In closing, I offer thanks to the late Professor Charles Morgan of Amherst College, in whose History of Art course I first learned of the fresco, and of the rich tradition of such illuminated walls in and on Eastern Orthodox churches. Little did I expect ever to be present during their creation.