Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

March 16, 2012

Also showing at MOCRA . . .

Archie Granot’s Papercut Haggadah is beautifully installed in MOCRA’s central nave gallery through May 20, 2012. The pages are each unique in design and content, but taking the 55 pages as a sort of musical score, one can discover theme and variation, leitmotif and transformation.

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah at MOCRA.

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah, at MOCRA 2/26/12 - 5/20/12.

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah at MOCRA.

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah, at MOCRA 2/26/12 - 5/20/12. Foreground, from left: Pages 39 and 38.

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah, Page 35 (detail).

Archie Granot: The Papercut Haggadah, at MOCRA 2/26/12 - 5/20/12. Page 35 (detail).

In addition to Granot’s work, we are also displaying a number of works in our side chapel galleries. Drawn from our collection and works on extended loan, these works are by a wide range of artists, including Romare Bearden, Lore Bert, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Jon Cournoyer, Robert Farber, Donald Grant, Steve Heilmer, Dean Kessman, Bernard Maisner, Chris McCaw, DoDo Jin Ming, Daniel Ramirez, James Rosen, Susan Schwalb, Thomas Skomski, Shahzia Sikander, Kazuaki Tanahashi, and Michael Tracy.

Dean Kessman and Bernard Maisner, on display at MOCRA.

Left: Dean Kessman, Rorschach Bible, 1996; Right: Bernard Maisner, "The Trojan Horse ..." (Henry Miller), 1982. On display at MOCRA, 2012.

For the most part, the works were selected to resonate visually and thematically with The Papercut Haggadah, as with the two works pictured above.

Dean Kessman’s cibachrome Rorschach Bible explores questions about perceived and actual reality, and the ways in which scientific and religious understanding interact to determine fact and fiction, or more importantly, truth. The juxtaposed positive and negative images of pages from Leviticus invite us to consider our responsibility in interpretation—of the artwork, of the Bible, of religious propositions—and the relationship between the individual seeker and authority and received tradition. Learn more about Kessman here.

Bernard Maisner is one of today’s finest illuminators of manuscripts. His thematic concerns include “questions of infinity, endlessness, beginnings, endings, emotion, intellect. Unity, opposites, and paradoxes fascinate me.” His visual influences come from many sources (Flemish panel painting, Sienese art, Persian and Indian miniatures, medieval manuscripts, Chinese and Japanese art, and Hebrew micrography) and he draws on texts both classical and contemporary, sacred and secular. Like Granot, he employs venerable media and techniques in novel ways that extend the possibilities of both, as seen with Maisner’s small accordion book “The Trojan Horse …” (Henry Miller). Maisner was featured in a 1999 MOCRA-organized national touring retrospective exhibition titled Entrance to the Scriptorium.

— David Brinker, Assistant Director

April 13, 2011

Now that we’ve mentioned Rouault

MOCRA’s current featured exhibition is Georges Rouault’s complete Miserere et Guerre. It’s a handsome installation that leads viewers in a snaking path through the museum, from the south side aisle through the nave and across to the north side aisle. (See an installation view in yesterday’s post.)

Along the way, however, visitors also have the opportunity to view a number of works in MOCRA’s side chapels, drawn from the MOCRA collection or in a few cases, on extended loan. They include two perennial favorites of MOCRA visitors:

Jeff Miller, "The Holy Spirit," 1993. Mixed media. MOCRA collection.

Jeff Miller‘s Holy Spirit (1993) allows its simple, found objects to assume strongly evocative meanings. This Spirit is not a gentle dove but as a strong, forceful eagle. The chair recalls the seat of wisdom, a gift of the Spirit. Chalk lines suggest a true path from which one should not stray. Overall, the interaction between the work’s vertical and horizontal reflects the descent of the Spirit into human activity. But despite these rather grand associations, the work exudes the playful, wry charm characteristic of Miller’s work.

Donald Grant, "Vessel," 1992. Acrylic on panel under tempered glass. Courtesy of the artist.

Bay Area artist Donald Grant‘s Vessel (1992) never fails to grab viewers’ attention. The work consists of a painting to which is adhered a large pane of shattered safety glass.  Grant has worked the painting beneath the glass as well as the glass itself. Many of the arching lines have been ground into the glass, and the glass explodes at the point where the vessel receives whatever is being poured into it. (The picture does not do justice to the refractive splintering of light scattered from the thousands of cracks in the surface.) Epiphany, destruction, vulnerability, receptivity, transformation—all of these are associations mentioned by visitors.

Other artists whose work is on display include: Seyed Alavi, Peter Ambrose, Romare Bearden, Michael Byron, Steven Heilmer, Bernard Maisner, Chris McCaw, DoDo Jin Ming, James Rosen, Susan Schwalb, and Shahzia Sikander. And of course, the large works by Thomas Skomski and Michael Tracy remain on view in the sanctuary and choir galleries, respectively.

— David Brinker, Assistant Director

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