Blog Post

Inspiration - August 2019 by Louis Holstein

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Today I wanted to highlight some of the biggest sources of inspiration for me as of late. I have often said to stay off the internet and television if you want to be inspired. “Go visit a museum if you want to be truly impacted,” I’ve shouted. But the lack of ability to venture to a museum recently has left me with the internet and television. I still think it’s important to get out into the world to be inspired, but for this moment in time the internet works too.


Woah. This video by Joan Bosch has really transformed what a home-movie is and could be. You better believe I will be intentional about capturing video footage during our upcoming trip to Ohio.


I’m not a fan of New Orleans jazz music. Delta Blues is also not my thing. Sue me. So, to know one’s surprise, when it was announced that Hadestown was coming to Broadway (I had heard of the production before and knew the genre of music it was - Jazz/Delta Blues) I was less than enthused. Over time, however, I would hear bits and pieces of the score and started to get interested. After 8 Tony wins, including Best Musical, and a show-stopping performance, I was very interested. The full soundtrack was released last month, and let me tell you: I’m here for it. What a sweeping score and heartfelt story! I’ve been entranced and inspired ever since. Check out some highlights below.


Ashley Holstein Photography will always be one of my biggest sources of inspirations. I’m sure you are thinking, “yeah, yeah, it’s your wife- you’re required to say that,” but honestly, even if she wasn’t my wife, I would still be inspired by the way she captures people. She captures them as they really are. She knows how to wait for a moment before taking the image. She is patient until she gets what she is looking for. I’ve been helping her blog some recent shoots and below are some of my favorite images that I’ve had the privilege to help curate.


I was recently told about this film by a friend and was skeptical (this seems to be a recurrence for me). He pitched it as one of the greatest films of all time- a title I never give to any film (or piece of art for that matter). I didn’t listen to my initial skepticism and watched it. 8 1/2. This little 1963 Italian film is a genuine work of art from the first frame to the last. I was absolutely blown away by the timelessness of the entire thing. There were moments that I can say I have never witnessed on film before, and it’s 2019! Every film connoisseur should see this film. It slid right into my personal top films of all time.


This website is the greatest color schemes generator I’ve ever used. Not only is it fast and efficient, but it even provides already set pallets if needed. I like to play around on here not only to pass time, but also to get my brain going.

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What’s been inspiriting you lately? Let me know in the comments below!

So Sweet to Trust by Louis Holstein

Photo by  Ashley Holstein  / Mulberry 2017

Photo by Ashley Holstein / Mulberry 2017

“Count the patience of our Lord as salvation.”

I’ve spoken about Mulberry time and time again. With every step of faith in this City, God has seen Ashley and I through. I am grateful for Him, so grateful. I’ve been messing around with film work recently, and I wanted to capture this town. Nothing fancy, no special effects, just Mulberry, and the places in Mulberry that God has asked us to trust Him in. Each location featured in this film has a specific meaning to Ashley and myself. Looking back I’m grateful. A friend of mine recently said, “surface level Christianity only works for people who aren’t going through anything.” I couldn’t agree with him more. Like a tree’s roots going deeper looking for water in a drought, so has Mulberry caused us to dig deeper into God’s presence- and I am grateful. Seven years later, I am tasting the sweetness of trusting God.

Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus,

just to take him at His word.

Just to rest upon his promise,

and to know “thus saith the Lord.”

Jesus, Jesus how I trust him,

how I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.

Jesus, Jesus precious Jesus,

oh for grace to trust Him more.

My Favorite Movies of All Time (Top 21 List) by Louis Holstein

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As a lover of film, therefore I often get asked what my favorite movie is. I answer with a monologue about how I can’t possible have one “favorite movie” as there are so many that have immense importance to me. This response leads to the follow-up question, “Oh, so what are you favorite movies?” The question is not met with another monologue, just silence. I know I have a list, I just need to organize it. Hence, the inspiration behind this post.

I wanted to have a top ten (influenced by AFI’s Top 10) but quickly realized I would be unable to a, keep the list at 10 films, and b, have a favorite film in each genre that AFI highlights. (Sorry, you will find no Westerns, Courtroom Dramas, Gangster, or Mystery films in my list). I went through the movies I own, and years of Oscar nominations to narrow down my favorite movies of all time: my top 21 list. I didn’t set out to name my favorite 21 films, but as the list was complied it just stop in completion. 21 is the number. In no particular order, here we go.

  1. The Dark Knight (2018) 94% (8 noms, 2 wins)

  2. The Social Network (2010) 96% (8 noms, 3 wins)

  3. An Education (2009) 95% (3 noms, 0 wins)

  4. Beauty and the Beast (1991) 94% (6 noms, 2 wins)

  5. About Time (2013) 68% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  6. Gigi (1958)* 78% (9 noms, 9 wins)

  7. West Side Story (1961)* 94% (11 noms, 10 wins)

  8. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf (1966) 95% (13 noms, 5 wins)

  9. Short Term 12 (2013) 98% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  10. Eighth Grade (2018) 99% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  11. Jaws (1975) 97% (4 noms, 3 wins)

  12. Psycho (1960) 97% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  13. Finding Nemo (2003) 99% (4 noms, 1 win)

  14. Arrival (2016) 94% (8 noms, 1 win)

  15. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)* 91% (10 noms, 8 wins)

  16. Jurassic Park (1993) 91% (3 noms, 3 wins)

  17. Australia (2008) 58% (0 noms, 0 wins)

  18. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) 76% (2 noms, 0 wins)

  19. Pride and Prejudice (2005) 86% (4 noms, 0 wins)

  20. The Wife (2018) 85% (1 nom, 1 win)

  21. Doubt (2008) 80% (4 noms, 0 wins)

Code:

  • % Percentages- From Rotten Tomatoes,

  • Noms- Nominations (From the Academy Awards)

  • * Best Picture Winner

    That’s an average percentage of 89% Rotten Tomatoes score, and a combined

    48 Academy Award wins and 98 nominations.

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Honorable Mentions:

  • Roma (2018)

  • The Lion King (1991)

  • Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

  • Pocahontas (1995)

  • Cloverfield (2008)

  • Room (2015)

  • The Shape of Water (2017)

  • Coco (2017)

  • The Intouchables (2012)

  • Inception (2010)

  • Spider-Man (2002)

  • The Prestige (2006)

  • Annie Hall (1977)

  • The Florida Project (2017)

Perhaps over time these films will slip into my top 21; or maybe the list will be extended to 25 or 30 films! Who knows for sure, right now my top 21 is near perfection for me. I encourage you to list your favorite films. I surprisingly learned a lot about myself by doing this. It’s worth the time.

- Louis

Communitas: A Tale of Two Paintings by Louis Holstein

On the eve of Founders Day, an event all about the celebration of community, I decided to reflect on two paintings from last year.

Community - Painting by Louis Holstein

And here I am, back to the topic of Community. What can I say, I think community is one of the most important necessities to live a healthy and whole life. We were not created to live life alone. Last year I curated my first exhibition featuring Ashley’s photography. The overarching theme of the show was the role of community in an individual’s life and how that, in turn, is a reflection of the ultimate community: the Holy Trinity. The show featured three interactive stations, and the art piece you see above this text was the final product of one of the stations. It was a community mural. I had selected four colors and draw squares for people to fill in. I also numbered the squares so it could become a paint-by-numbers event, but people rarely followed the numbers. In fact, as you can see, they didn't even follow the instructions of painting one color per square!

At first I was annoyed with the lack of compliance, but I remembered that this was a risk of a community mural, you never know what you are going to end up with. Aside from the obvious lack of following directions with color placement, everyone followed the directions regarding “painting in the square.” I had imagined all the colors blending beautifully, and it just wasn’t happening. This wasn’t true community. This was a painting created with specific colors in specific boundaries. But true community includes all the colors. True community blurs the boundaries. I began to fill in the white squares of the painting, but I couldn’t stop. Below is the final product.

If you look closely you can see the remnants of the first painting. This is what I believe true community looks like, full of color and boundary-less. It is messy and unpredictable. It can only occur if vulnerability is chosen. Vulnerability is hard, but living a life without community is harder.

- Louis

“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.” - Madeleine L’Enngle

Communitas - Painting by Louis Holstein

It Is Not Real, But It Is Beautiful by Louis Holstein

Do I matter? What is the purpose of my existence? Who am I? These questions make us human. These questions separate us from the other species on earth. The human experience is constantly looking for meaning, purpose, and worth.

I’ve been wrestling with virtual reality recently. If you read my last blog post you can see why. I’ve become fed up with searching for truth in the lie that is social media. I use social media, and although I despise certain elements of it, I see it’s nuance to relationships and community. I recently dove head first into some over-thinking, indulge me for a second.

Disney's Magic Kingdom Castle
Parthenon In Nashville Tennissee

Over the holiday break in Puerto Rico, I stumbled across this lit-up tree. It was in the back of the garage and not inherently Christmas decor. I was mesmerized. The randomness of the tree, the lights illuminating from the tree, and the beauty of the tree all captured my attention. It got me thinking, “can something that is not real be beautiful?” Well, “of course,” I quickly respond. There are beautiful things all around us that aren’t real. Fictional stories, fake flowers, and Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World, all beautiful things, but none of them real. It was then, in my list of not real, but beautiful things, Makoto Fujimura came to mind. He says this,

Beauty is the quality connected with those things that are in themselves appealing and desirable. Beautiful things are a delight to the senses, a pleasure to the mind, and refreshment for the spirit. Beauty invites us in, capturing our attention and making us want to linger. Beautiful things are worth our scrutiny, rewarding to contemplate, deserving of pursuit. They inspire- or even demand- a response, whether sharing them in community or acting to extend their beauty into the spheres.
— Culture Care, p. 32

What is beauty? According to Fujimura, things that are a “delight to the senses, a pleasure to the mind, and refreshment for the spirit.” In other words, we are talking about more than esthetics. Fujimura goes on to say “beauty is connected with satisfaction, which may point to the way beauty feeds the soul.” So can things that are not real be beautiful? Perhaps, but more importantly, are these not real “beautiful things” feeding my soul? If the answer is, “no,” then maybe they’re not worth my time.

I see so many not real, but beautiful things on Social Media. This twisty trail of thoughts has not only led me to a healthy view of those virtual platforms and art, but also to a practical approach in the way I interact with them. I can admire things that are not real, I just won’t spend much time on them- social media included.

Social Media is A Lie (and Other Reasons I hate Social Media) by Louis Holstein

[Warning: This post is one of my most informal rants ever. I apologize & you have been warned]

I’ve been off and on with social media like an unhealthy high school relationship.

A Brief History

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I have three social media accounts currently: Facebook, Instagram and Linked-In. I first got a Facebook account in High School, but after three years I had enough and deactivated it. Flash forward six years and I was required to get it again so I could manage multiple pages for my current job. I was able to stay under the radar. No one knew I had an account, so no “friends” to accept or deny. But Ashley began tagging me in pictures, and the friend requests started coming. I’ll delete it the second I am able to. I first got an Instagram account while in college in 2011. It was a new app at the time and Ashley was the only one I knew who had it. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. It didn’t take long for Facebook to see the potential of the app and acquire it. It’s never been the same. I’ve been off the platform for as short as a month and long as a year over the last 8 years. I’ve never deleted it. I had a Twitter for several years through college and a bit after, but got sick of it and got off. There isn’t much to say about my Linked-In page except, do I look hire-able?

A 3-Point Rant

One of the most annoying things about Social Media is that strangers (acquaintances) are required to do absolutely no work to know (virtually everything) about our personal lives. Because of this, I have made a constant effort to make my accounts less and less personal. I know too many people for every one of those people to have the same amount of access into my life with little to no work. (Yes, clicking on my profile and scrolling through is no work).

Another annoying thing has more to do with me than social media, but I find it frustrating how much I compare myself to others. How can one blame them though? People put their highlight reel and at times my highlight reel (yes, highlight reel) doesn’t seem to measure up. Another reason why I work to depersonalize my accounts, I don’t want people comparing themselves to me. I’m not perfect. I don’t have a perfect life, and I want to do my best to not give off that vibe. 

Also, isn’t social media supposed to be social? Maybe it’s because of my 20 followers or whatever, but I never find a good conversation on social media. I love to hear different ideas and opinions, but when they’re poorly laid out in the comments, I’m left with more dissolution than any kind of fullness I would otherwise have in a face to face encounter. I’ll post opinions on Facebook and Instagram only to hear the sound of crickets, but then again this could be my fault because of my lack of friends. Whatever. 

Conclusion

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All this ranting to say, don’t delete your social media accounts. Or, do delete them, it doesn’t really effect me. What I do want to encourage you to do is not take them too seriously. In 2018 I came to the realization that most of social media is a lie. It’s a hard truth, but truth nonetheless. Whatever you do, don’t tell us you’re “taking a break” (as if anyone really cares) and then come back in a week. Did you really take a break? Did you? 

So why do I stay on? Not sure. I’d have to go deep down to find the answer (sad). I guess I think it will be some value to me down the road. (You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to let go of my perfect @louisholstein twitter handle). The main platform i use is Instagram and instead of updates on my life, it is now where I showcase my art musings thematically, three frames at a time. I try not to get on the app unless I’m posting or have something to say. That may sound narssasistic, but I just don’t get inspired by the various accounts available anymore. Inspiration for me is found in Gods presence, nature, people (face to face conversations), art museums, my wife, and music. 

I don’t know how long this social media wave will last but I’m thinking it’s here to stay. People want meaning and they will turn to the dumbest things to find it, social media just so happens to be one of those things right now.

- Louis

Death. Life. Were You There? by Louis Holstein

Death.

Death.

Life.

Life.

The balance of death and life, will always be one of great exploration for me as a human, as an artist, and as a follower of Christ. We serve a God who choose death, to give us life, and the human world has never been the same. I heard the hymn, “Where You There” on Good Friday this past year and immediately fell in love. Little did I know that it was most likely written by African American slaves in the 19th century. This gives the song so much more weight to my heart than was already there. So, was I there when they crucified my Lord? Perhaps not, but my sin was and that makes it all the same. I was there, and this fact makes me tremble.

2018: Year in Review (What I've Learned) by Louis Holstein

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I journal. Every year at the end of my journal (1 for every year), I write the good of the year, the bad of the year, what I learned in the year and Goals for the next year. 2018 was no different. While there was a half page of bad, I almost ran out of space to write about the good. Goals are all set for 2019, and so now came the cringe-worthy part: reading my journal entries from January 2018 to present and drawing up what I learned. I usually find myself annoying in past tense and this year was no exception. Regardless I found 2018 to be a year of great learning, but also a year with lots of reminders. I pray going into 2019 that I can grow from these lessons and not repeat 2018 all over again. Without any further ado, straight from journal, here is the list of what I’ve learned.

What I’ve Learned in 2018 (featuring all the reminders too)

(in no particular order)

  1. I have the most capacity to create when I am overflowing from the Creator.

  2. To be known by God is everything.

  3. Social Media is mainly a lie.

  4. Outrage rarely wins people over.

  5. I must not confuse God’s silence with anger.

  6. For the believe, the worst is not the last.

  7. Surrender breeds humility.

  8. There will never be a moment in time where obedience to God becomes easy. It’s always a step of faith to obey, and that is hard.

  9. People will think whatever they want to think. I answer only to God (and my wife).

  10. Obeying God out of fear and obeying God out of trust are two very different things. One has to do with work I do and the other has to do with the work God has done.

  11. God loves me completely and extravagantly. There is nothing I can do (or not do) to have more (or less) of God’s love. Receiving God’s love has nothing to do with what I do, and everything to do with what God has done.

  12. My love, adoration, worship and interest does not keep God close. God’s closeness is in God’s character. It is not about what I do, it is about what God has done.