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Art and Sacred Spaces

About our Sacred Space:

Even when not spoken aloud, words from Psalm 96 echoed throughout the Renewal project that created Grace Church's worship space: Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Beauty was always a requirement for the burnished concrete floor, for the light-filled proportions of the space itself, and for all the liturgical objects within it. Nothing was bought ready made out of a catalog. Everything was produced by local artists and craftsmen.

Swooping down now over the doors to the nave is The Dove Descending, oil on canvas, by Patric Shannon. It hung for many years on the back wall of the former nave, which is now the parish hall, first as a long-term loan and then as a gift of the artist. He was a member of the congregation from 1974 until his death in 1998, serving as Bishops Warden, licensed lay reader, notable lector and trainer of other lectors. A graduate of Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, he had a long career in the arts as a museum director and a college teacher of both theater and visual arts. His paintings were widely exhibited at museums and galleries. The title of the painting comes from Little Gidding, the last of T.S. Eliots Four Quartets:

The dove descending breaks the air with flame of incandescent terror Of which the tongues declare The one discharge from sin and error.

The lines are part of a complex reference to the operation of the Holy Spirit, even amid the London fires started by German dive bombers during the Second World War. However, the painting is not a representation of the dove as a symbol of the Spirit. Patric said that he did not compete with the camera to produce pictures. Instead, as an old-fashioned abstract expressionist, he manipulated the plastic means of space, light, color, line, and texture to express the inner world of mind, imagination, and feeling - the world of spiritual life. Titles, including this one, came afterward to suggest experiences the works might evoke.

    Grace Episcopal Church is an open and affirming congregation, welcoming all people.

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