By Jesus Figueroa
Guest curator Mary Anna Pomonis lead a special tour of “Sanctified: Spirituality in Contemporary Art” at the Vincent Price Art Museum on Saturday at 4 p.m..
Before the opening reception scheduled for 5 p.m. Pomonis took the crowd through the exhibit located in the VPAM’s large gallery.
Karen Rapp presented the guest curator to the audience outside the exhibit. “Mary Anna approached me maybe about the time we were moving into this building, maybe a bit before, about doing this group exhibition that she had wanted to do for a number of years. She told me about the artist and the concept of the show. Then she went out and got everything organized, did the research, did the studio visits and made [it] happen,” Rapp said.
Pomonis introduced Paul Guillemette, Ron Laboray, and some of the artist in attendance who shared some of the stories behind their art work.
“Most of the artists we know have these ritualistic practice in their studio that they hid from other people. You know, burning incense before they paint or draw or perhaps sageing a space in order to get rid of all the yucky mojo energy, things like that. But all of the artist that did that kept the practices to themselves and alot of the artist we know, including myself, collect rocks and energy stones and believe, as I do, that cultivating a positive space is very important,” Pomonis said.
With 20 artists on display in the exhibit, there are paintings, sculptures and installments that capture different spiritual beliefs.
“The purpose of Sanctified was to focus on artists that made work that create that sort of energetic action,” Pomonis said .
One such painting is that of hands held in prayer. The hands are yellow with real bugs embedded into the oil paints.
Linda Stark made this painting and another on display specifically for this exhibit.
The painting catches the eyes because of the yellow hands. The bugs are not noticed until a closer examination is done.
“She (Stark) calls them potion paintings. She actually cast magic spells and little bits of the spells into the materials she used for the paintings. She made these specially for the show,” Pomonis said.
An installment in the middle of the floor is that of pyramids arranged in different orders.
The titles of some are “Balance” which is a single white pyramid, and “More Balance” which is a white pyramid balancing an upside down black pyramid on its tip. The set seems to stand out since it is on the floor in the center of the exhibit.
Guillemette does work with found material and although his work is all over the place, Pomonis is glad to have this focused work on display.
Ross Rudel has a darker installation that is of a crow’s talon. Displayed in graphite on a black display. The talon is about the size of a human finger and sits underneath a second artwork of a moon.
Depending on the place a person stands while looking at the moon, it is either profoundly made clear or fades and is dim.
The talon was found by as he jogged down the river bed. Fascinated by the energy this bird must have had once, he picked it up and took it to his studio. Upon bringing it in, which he shared, he made the bird’s presence known. Pomonis said the bird was allowed to stay inside the studio after being cleansed of negative energy.
A video installation is on display showing some nudity. The nudity is not distasteful but may offend some who attend the exhibit.
A piece by Carole Caroompas carries images of horror movies and supernatural stuff, such as the movie Carrie. The images are inside a Navajo dream weaving blanket base.
Two colorfully detailed prayer-rug-style wood panels created by Paula J. Wilson up on display have beautiful intricate designs.
The wooden panels which have carvings can put down on the ground to be used as a prayer rug says Pomonis.
The painting on the panels are very well done and detailed. As the texture of some of the paint is examined an image is found hidden upon the designs.
Each section of the exhibit filled with people as Pomonis walked through the exhibit sharing why she chose certain pieces of art and artists.
“Sanctified: Spirituality in Contemporary Art” is free and runs through April 16 inside the Small Gallery.
VPAM is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., Thursdays noon to 7 p.m. and every second Saturday of the month from noon to 4 p.m..