ALLAN ROHAN CRITE (MARCH 20, 1910-SEPTEMBER 6, 2007)
There are many gifts from God, and art is among them. Allan Crite received this gift and shared with others.
When The Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention approved an overhaul and expansion of the denominational calendar of saints, it replaced the old Lesser Feasts and Fasts book (which became thicker with each successive edition) with Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010). Page 708 of this volume is an appendix, a list of names of people who might join the calendar, given the passage of sufficient time. This is where I found the name of Allan Crite. The General Convention might wait to add him to the official calendar, but I wait no longer than today to add him to mine.
Crite spent almost all of his life in the Boston, Massachusetts, area, where he grew up attending St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Cambridge. Later, as an adult, he was an integral part of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Boston. Crite, a liturgical artist, designed banners and vestments, painted bulletin covers, and drew stations of the cross. Much of his work reflected the influence of African-American spirituals and urban settings. During his long life Crite encouraged artists via various means, including the Artists Collective and the Allan Crite Research Institute, run out of his home.
How did Crite come to arrive at that point?
Crite’s father, Oscar, was an engineer. His mother, Annamae, was a poet who encouraged her young and talented son to draw. Crite studied at the Museum of Fine Arts, preferring to attend the school there rather than go to Yale, which had also accepted him. He graduated in 1936, during the Great Depression, so he worked for Public Works Art Project then the Works Progress Administration, which paid him to paint. This work was also important because his father, who had suffered a stroke and become an invalid, died in 1937; somebody had to support Annamae.
From 1940 to 1970 Crite worked as a draftsman at the Boston Naval Shipyard. It was steady work which enabled him to paint during his spare time. Later, Crite worked at Grossman Library, Harvard University.
The port draftsman was a noted artist, for, as early as 1936, the Museum of Modern Art showed his work. And today one can see his work at such noted places as the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts (his alma mater), the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Corcoran Gallery of American Art.
Crite said of himself,
As a visual artist, I am in the communication business, as are all the disciplines of the arts: the performing arts in music and drama, the written arts from poems, sagas, news items, and all the broadcast media, from talking drums to broadcast networks. As a visual artist, I am part of that tradition, a storyteller of the drama of man. This is my small contribution–to tell the African-American experience–in a local sense, of the neighborhood, and, in a larger sense, of its part in the total human experience.
Allan Crite did this well. He found ways to live his vocation, to glory of God and the benefit of his fellow human beings. May you, O reader, also live your vocation well, to the glory of God and benefit your fellow human beings.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JUNE 28, 2011 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT IRENAEUS OF LYONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP
THE FEAST OF RANDOLPH ROYALL CLAIBORNE, JR., EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA
I drew information from the following websites, which contain more details:
The collect for the feast is a slightly adapted version of that for “Artists & Writers,” from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728. The readings are those for this common of the saints.
Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:
We bless your name for inspiring Allan Crite
and all those who with images and words
have filled us with desire and love for you;
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Chronicles 29:14b-19
2 Corinthians 3:1-3
John 21:15-17, 24-25