The British Museum contains various treasures from around the world collected by the British during their empire days. But I was not interested in the mummies pilfered from Egyptian tombs or the marble friezes stolen by Lord Elgin. Medieval church relics attracted me more. Their collection was not as huge as New York's Metropolitan, but still enticing. I had been hooked on medieval trinkets since Howie This is Howie the drummer, not Howie of Hawaii. and I spent the summer of '61 consuming modern art and jazz from a one room efficiency on 83rd between Grant's Tomb and Central Park. This was the summer I read Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, visited the Cloisters in upper Manhattan, became addicted to illuminated manuscripts, and bought a black bassoon. The medieval aesthetic began to infiltrate my psyche. Next year in the winter of '62-'63, I began painting small paintings like Klee's and Miro's. In '65, I became obsessed with animating chess pieces, and spent 13 years with the aesthetics of small. The less is more bug had bit me bad.

Treasures of Heaven 2011

On our last day in Manhattan, Howie got married while I toured the Metropolitan discovering my affinity for infinite worlds inside small wombs. Medieval jewelers would have approved. They realized that many persons each creating one humble anonymous object is an act of worship that adds up to one big community act of worship called a cathedral — a cathedral is not just stone and glass; it is also a spiritual reliquary where the many store their souls to inspire future generations. Today those souls are stored in metropolitan museums.

And don't forget what an act of worship really is and is not. It is not the supplication to a God who will reward you for your applause, although that may have been the majority's motivating belief at the time these objects were made. I would like to believe that most of these craftsmen realized their creative acts went further than mere atonement. Making a relic is an act that brings maker and you the viewer into attunement with infinity and eternity.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
—William Blake

London map