Sacred Spaces continued

2.  The Chapelle du Rosire  (Link)


This small Dominican Sisters' chapel in the town of St. Paul de Vence on the French Riviera was built and decorated between 1949 and 1951 under a plan devised by Henri Matisse. The link above will take you to a piece I did a few years ago.  Some of the more famous sacred spaces have been polluted by tourist (Notre Dame in Paris comes to mind). I have seen tourist enter medieval churches while a mass was underway and walk about taking flash pictures of the service - even of one lady who was praying. As the Chapelle de Rosire is off the tourist route, you can be free of distractions if you go there....unless you become one yourself.

3. The Scrovegni Chapel

   or the Official Site

interior interior
           Frescoes by Giotto  One of most sacred spaces in Western Civilization. 

On the first visit there I went out of a sense of academic duty, with low expectations. After I had been inside for a while I had to go back outside and sit down on a bench because my knees were shaking. The stories from the Bible and from the Golden Legend surround the viewer, the colors are vibrant, and the artist, Giotto, was a genius. The link above to the Wikipedia site has links to outside videos that tell the entire story of the chapel, although a bit pedantic well worth watching. 

Art is artifice, quite the opposite of nature, but seeing the Scrovegni Chapel always reminds me of another experience.  Over half a century ago I visited Lost Valley near Ponca, Arkansas. We (four college kids) drove up a dirt road and stopped at the house of the owner. In the Ozarks back then you stopped your car a respectful distance from the house and waited for someone to emerge. If nobody came out, you should leave. A lady wearing a long dress opened the door and stood on the porch. Hat in hand I greeted her, said we were college students from Tech wanting to visit the valley. She gave permission and said not to disturb anything. We were the only visitors. The fall colors of the trees were at their peak. Maples and oaks climbed up the sides of the tiny valley forming a some places leaves from one side of the valley touch leaves from the other side. The sky was a beautiful blue and the full sun gave complete illumination for a show of color. A mountain stream ran across moss covered boulders. At the head waters of the stream was a delicate water fall.  The experience was about as close to heaven as a person can come.

 The spring images below provide a hint of what we experienced. But the place is now a state park, with nature trails, signs, port-a-potties, and handicapped access: politically and legally correct, but with diminished magic.


lost valley lost


5. Thorncrown Chapel




The chapel was designed by Fay Jones, the preeminent architect of Arkansas, and constructed in 1980 near Eureka Springs. Jones had apprenticed with Frank Lloyd Wright, who obviously influenced the design. The chapel, commissioned by Jim Reed who lived nearby, is open to travelers and available for weddings.


The  focus of the chapel is the view through the glass at the front of the chapel. There Jones placed a small axis mundi, a rod a few feet tall. interior