Historically, the only places where the masses, the common people, could see works of art were in churches.
“It's pretty safe to say they are no longer,” said the Rev. Jane Voigts of San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church.
As most people were illiterate, they would learn Biblical stories by viewing murals, stained-glass windows, tile and fresco work, bas relief and statues. Voigts noted that for various reasons the tie between organized religion and the arts has since become severed. Four years ago, she set out to mend that rift, with the inaugural Beacon Art Show at the church. Now an annual event, the exhibit has since grown, as more artists have become involved and have submitted more works of art.
Marta Peluso, who heads up the county arts council Arts Obispo and also teaches photography at Cuesta College, was lead juror for this year's show, “Art and Soul.” She and co-jurors Peter Steynberg of Steynberg Gallery and the Rev. Voigts picked 250 entries from 100 artists and selected the award winners.
More than $2,000 in cash prizes plus the purchase award were bestowed.
In accepting his purchase award, Gregory McIntosh said that a Jesuit friend used to say “Life is an opportunity for generosity.” He feels the church is exceptionally generous by not taking commissions from exhibit sales; the artists retain 100 percent of the asking price.
David Settino Scott won the $300 Best of Show for his sculpture “Monk, Twelve,” from a series the San Miguel artist did to honor Buddhist monks who immolated themselves during the Vietnam War. Los Osos artist Ken Christensen, who earned Best of Show last year, took this year's second place for $250 with his oil “Hollister & Haybales.” Paso Robles resident Pat Cairns won third place and $150 for her watercolor “Istanbul,” which she painted during a trip to the Middle East.
The three honorable mentions, who won $100 each, were Janine Kirkpatrick of Shandon, with her spirit doll fiber sculpture titled “Rare and Endangered Butterfly”; Evelyn Baird of San Luis Obispo whose egg shell media “In the Garden” is the first work she's ever exhibited; and Atascadero resident Nancy Koren whose closeup photo “Lucy is Watching” is a donkey that is under the care of an organization called Heaven Can Wait.
For the purchase award, McIntosh received the $150 asking price for his sepia-toned photograph taken at San Miguel Mission. It will be part of the church's permanent collection. A merit award winner in the Beacon's 2009 exhibit, Mcintosh expressed surprise for his recent honor, as it was the first photograph he'd ever exhibited. “I'm a painter, not a photographer,” the Cayucos resident said. The photo's title is “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
“It doesn't refer to Hemingway,” whose novel bears that title, said McIntosh, “It refers to John Donne,” whose writings explore the interconnectedness of humanity. “It's a clarion call for all of us to give love.”