Spaces that intentionally come up empty


By Christine Temin, Globe Staff, 1/23/2002

(excerpt from entire article, which reviewed two other shows in boston with similar theme)

Calming effects

''Sacred Spaces,'' at the Jewish Community Center in Newton, mixes models and photographs of architecture designed for worship or meditation with paintings, prints, and photographs on the theme. Light and geometry are all-important factors in both parts of the show. The most dramatic building represented here is Moshe Safdie's Class of 1959 Chapel at Harvard Business School, a green, oxidized copper drum intersecting with a clear glass pyramid. The sealed-off drum is reminiscent of the famed Rothko Chapel in Houston, while the pyramid at Harvard allows those inside to contemplate the seasons outdoors. In the drum's skylights are large prisms filled with mineral oil. Guided by a computer that is itself guided by the sun, the prisms create shifting rainbows of color on undulating concrete walls. It's an update of the stained glass that gives churches and cathedrals a mystical air.

The Harvard chapel will be less familiar to most than another piece of architecture documented in the JCC show - Stanley Saitowitz's Holocaust Memorial, which is prominently positioned near Quincy Marketplace. Saitowitz's half-dozen luminous glass towers resemble some of the proposals for towers of light to mark the site where the World Trade Center stood. Vertical shafts of light have become a multidenominational or nondenominational expression of ascension toward some ideal terrain, be it a literal heaven or one of the imagination.

Morgan Cohen's color photographs of corners of rooms are as delicately shaded as a blush - pure, ethereal spaces. The textured, worn surfaces and rectilinear marks in Patty Stone's ''Laguna'' paintings - made of acrylic, sand, and plaster - suggest sacred spaces crumbling. There are several other artists and architects represented in the show, not all of them the best in whatever their media. So timely and broad is the theme of the exhibition that in the Boston area alone it would be possible to find a hundred other creative spirits dealing with it.

''Sacred Spaces'' is in the Starr Gallery of the Leventhal Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton St., Newton, through March 31.

This story ran on page D1 of the Boston Globe on 1/23/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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