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Gualala Arts

Promoting public interest and participation in the arts since 1961.

Archive of past events: 2004 through 2014

Household Shrines
Sacred Spaces in Everyday Life

Opening Reception: Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
Exhibit remains through November 15, 2009
Burnett Gallery

Household Shrine Gualala Arts will present an exhibit, "Household Shrines, Sacred Spaces in Everyday Life," in the Burnett Gallery and the beautifully landscapes grounds from the opening Saturday, October 10 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. through November 15. This exhibit will be part of the Day of the Dead Festival celebrated on November 1.

All human cultures around the world have rich traditions and rituals for remembering life changing events and honoring the dead. "Art" has its roots in the first cave paintings, carved bones and shaped stone that marked passages in the lives of the people.

"Shrines:" the placement of objects in assemblage to create meaning that is beyond mere words, to change space and time, is a form of expression that remains close to the first artists/shaman. Shrines / altars / icons can be personal, communal, political, spiritual, even interactive, and have often been created by societies and by individuals to become the focal point for remembrance . . . to give a tangible presence for the spiritual.

Whether we recognize it or not, even modern cultures manifest this need to connect with our ancestors and seek spiritual guidance. And it's not restricted to traditional religious ceremonies. Whenever we wear a poppy and decorate the graves of fallen soldiers, or simply share photographs of our relatives, we are participating in the human need to honor the past and share memories . . . the grave and the photo album become informal shrines. Even companies and elections, which seem far-removed from the spiritual, have traditions for honoring their founding fathers and relating the current generation to the culture and values of the past.

Artists will explore the concepts of death and passages, using shrines / altars / icons to express their vision. Personal shrines will be of many types: journaling, honoring, remembering, healing, attracting, expressing, and exploring . . . even the absurd! The exhibit is not juried and is open to all, regardless of age or calling. Groups or families may collaborate in the creation of a shrine.

The media will be open to the artists' imaginations, and both two and three dimensional works will be exhibited in interior and exterior spaces. Curators for this exhibit are Sharon Nickodem & Jan Maria Chiappa.

Household Shrine Household Shrine

Call to Artist information

To see more detailed rules and/or to participate in this exhibit, you may download the registration form. The completed registration form is due to the Gualala Arts office by September 12, 2009.

Need Ideas or Inspiration?

Books are a good source for information about the wide range of shrines / altars / icons, and how to create them. Here is just a sampling:

  • "A Book of Women's Altars," by Nancy Brady Cunningham and Denise Geddes
  • "Altar Your Space," Jagatjoti S. Khalsa
  • "Altars, Bringing Sacred Shrines into Your Everyday Life," by Denise Linn
  • "Altars and Icons," by Jean McMann
  • "Crafting Personal Shrines," by Carol Owen
  • "Day of the Dead Crafts," by Kerry Arquette, Andrea Zocchi & Jerry Vigil
  • "Skulls to the Living, Bread to the Dead," by Stanley Brandes
  • "The Days of the Dead," by Rosalind Rosoff Beimler
  • "Your Altar," by Sandra Kynes

There are also many web sites that tell about the endless variety of altars in different societies and cultures. A few are listed below. We also suggest searching on "Altars" and "Shrines" to find your favorites.

The Gualala Arts Center, located at 46501 Old State Highway in Gualala, CA,
is open weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Please call (707) 884-1138 for more information, or email

Serving the coastal communities of northern Sonoma & southern Mendocino Counties.