Los Angeles

First Annual Advent Exhibit of Liturgical Art

Mount Saint Mary's College

Most of the objects comprising the exhibition seem to have been included by reason of subject matter, function, title or vocation of their maker, categories indifferent to the spirit of a work. Yet it is to the spirit, seemingly, that an Advent art exhibit would wish to direct itself. But liturgy denotes public ritual, not sacred experience, and the show honestly enough was labeled “liturgical art.” Taken literally this perspective indicates that the exhibit’s most moving works should not be there, for Chagall’s colored lithographs of Saul and David through the faithful sweetness of an ear brimming with sensation, the exaltation of a profile or the premonition in a blood-colored sleeve are forms which realize themselves in private communion. Similarly the viewer himself is laden by Jack Zajac’s sculptures, he alone must bear the reciprocal amnesty of sacrifice; just as the joyous banner of Louis Lunetta’s Yellow Virgin of Guadalupe levitates only individual burdens into butterflies.

In contrast, embarrassment characterizes the public response to: Brent Bennet’s Burning Bush, Perli Pelzig’s Mount Sinai, and Morris Broderson’s Pieta. However embarrassment is changed to affront by Leo Fecht’s splattered, be-fringed non-entities; charitably they might be dismissed as the feeble residue of an imagination parched by its lust for the “contemporary.” Too shallow for blasphemy, Fecht’s things are so inflated with pretentious ersatz that the perceiver, like a fainting diabetic, begs for the real sugar of a della Robbia. May Mount Saint Mary’s spare us the emotional famishment of such Sucaryl in the Second Annual Advent exhibit.

Rosalind G. Wholden