I know what I'm doing tomorrow on my way to the Poetry Scores 2008 Experiential Auction: I am hitting the free opening at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (at Saint Louis University) for its 15th year anniversary show Pursuit of the Spirit.
I would bet the vast majority of people who live in St. Louis - including many visual art enthusiasts - don't know this town is home to the world's first interfaith museum of contemporary religious art, right on the SLU campus, in a renovated chapel.
Not that I'm anything approaching the regular I'd like to be (and should be, since it's right between where I work and where I eat lunch at two or three times a week). In fact, I have visited but once, for the Junko Chodos show, which rates among the best museum shows I have ever seen in St. Louis. (Note to Tony Renner: check her out; I think she's all for you.)
My wife and I caught a rerun KWMU interview with Terrence E. Dempsey, S.J., Founding Director and Curator of MOCRA, while driving home from dinner and drinks last night. He came across as a smart, engaged, cool guy.
I particularly appreciated one riff about the perception of the sacred in art. He said people tend to localize spiritual art to a specific time period they associate with the sacred, typically in the distant past. But, he insisted, the passion in artists that inspired (say) vast oil paintings of Christ on the Cross are just as active, in their own ways and media, today.
He remembered a past MOCRA installation, where a contemporary artist used an assemblage of TV sets plugged into VCRs to achieve the effect of a stained glass window changing colors as the tone of sunlight changes throughout the day. I'd like to have seen that.
This makes me want to schedule a deeply spiritual poem for the Poetry Scores calendar and see if these guys will co-curate the Art Invitational in their beautiful space. Maybe "Incantata" by Paul Muldoon, the anguished cry of a non-believer who watched a former lover die of cancer when her religious beliefs prevented her from seeking treatment?
MOCRA second fiddle David Brinker attended Poetry Scores' 2006 Blind Cat Black Art Invitational and introduced himself, saying how much he enjoyed the show. So, who knows?
The Pursuit of the Spirit reception starts Sunday at 1 p.m. I need to be at Atomic Cowboy for the Experiential Auction by 3:30 p.m. (the event starts at 5 p.m.). See you sometime in between? And then later at the auction?
Image is Cia Cara #1, 2008, by María Magdalena Campos-Pons., a large-format Polaroid, from the Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art.