Spirit Houses? See Them in Saugerties!

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You have to give credit to Emerge Gallery owner Robert Langdon for ingenuity in devising exhibits — not only the shows that hang for a month or so but also the “pop-up” ones that last for a day or two or three. On Sunday I popped in for what was supposed to be a one-day exhibit of Spirit Houses, but he has decided to keep it up through the Thanksgiving weekend.

Lorrie and Michael Wardell’s pottery work is familiar to customers at various restaurants around Saugerties, including the Dutch Ale House, Miss Lucy’s, even Lox of Bagels and Bluestone Coffee Roasters. The Emerge Gallery is featuring a selection of their unique spirit houses. What is a spirit house? I’ll let Lorrie and Michael speak for themselves:

“There is a tradition in many cultures, from medieval England and Europe to modern Indonesia and Thailand, to provide a place for spirits to dwell near our homes or in special and sacred places.  The ancient Greeks built their incredible temples as an enticement for the gods to come and stay so they would be attentive to the prayers offered at the temple.  Pre-Christian Europeans provided niches carved in stone or wood for the gods in a sacred grove or those protecting the crossroads to dwell in.  No home or building in modern Thailand is without a spirit house, the placement of which is decided even before construction of the building begins.  All of these traditions seek to acknowledge the place that spirits and spirituality have in enriching our lives.  By providing a home for the spirits, we provide a tangible acknowledgment of the more ethereal aspects of our lives.”

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I was intrigued to learn of this artistic application of the idea of sacred space, and to see the differences between the medieval European spirit houses and those from Indonesia and Thailand, and I purchased one of the “medieval” ones for myself. They are amazingly affordable, and if you’re looking for a very different kind of gift to give this Christmas season (or even for yourself), I highly recommend that you stop in and have a look.



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Some works from the “Petit” show.

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To the right is my piece in this show, a scene in the Berkshires.

Meanwhile, the theme for the current monthly show is “Petit” and features works of smaller sized art. Again, a nice gift idea–or for your own wall. Visit the Gallery’s website for further details. You can even purchase online!


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