Frank Galuszka, Bethany (Mary and Martha)

Oil on linen
Credit Line
Gift of the Winfield Family, 2013
106 x 80 in.

Galuszka portrays the two sisters, Mary and Martha of the Biblical town of Bethany, as contemporary women. Their brother Lazarus was raised from the dead by Christ. Mary, the standing figure with long, bare legs and flowing hair, wears white shorts and a provocative yellow shirt. In some accounts of the Gospels, she is the prostitute Mary Magdalene. The dandelion, below, is an ancient symbol of flirtation. Martha, the seated figure, is the more practical, hardworking sister, but she is psychologically encumbered. The overturned wine glass (a tour-de-force representation of iridescent glass) may symbolize the degree to which her dedication to work makes her unable to function. An extraordinary, bright yellow light permeates the painting, and this may symbolize the presence of the divine spirit of Christ. The Gospel of Luke describes how Christ favored Mary, for although she sinned, she was open to the word of God. Martha, in her virtuous preoccupations, was inattentive to truth.

According to the Gospel of Luke, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”


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Frank Galuszka