“Votive” 3/16/18 – 4/15/18

Sacrosanct Gallery Grand Opening

March 16, 2018 – April 15, 2018


Votives are interfaith tools of utility and intent, providing light and warmth upon illumination.  A votive offering may be ignited or consecrated in fulfillment of a vow.  For what purposes are we burning our candles? What are our secret prayers of intent? How does our faith and spirituality pay reverence to idols, statutes, gods, and the sacred? Can a votive be more than a candle, can it be a state of being?  Below are the premiering, curated artists who displayed not only exceptional commitment to craft, but also the light of original voices illuminating the future.  Our Grand Opening exhibition of “Votive” includes eight living, working American artists with four men and four women out of a field of more than 60 professionals who expressed artwork with elements of sacrality.  We know you will love their work as represented here as well as the work on their web pages.  Sacrosanct Gallery stands ready to facilitate any dialogue you’d like to have and we are anxious to share with you our plans to incubate these and future artists as relationship developers.

Featured Artists

Chas Martin is Portland, Oregon’s next rising legacy sculptor. He writes, “The images we hold in our mind’s eye are essential for understanding our true place and purpose in the world. They define the realm of possibilities we perceive.  My images are inspired by books, dreams, and observation.  I explore primal images that speak through gesture. Several years ago I began an exploration of petroglyphs. These archetypal symbols quickly informed me that they needed to be three-dimensional. After 30 years of working on flat surfaces, I am once again exploring form and space.  My characters represent concepts that unify rather than divide us – experiences that transcend cultural, spiritual, and social boundaries.  Creating my characters is an interactive process of sketches, wire frames, photos, watercolor, acrylic, collage, and more. Visualization becomes realization. I am living, breathing, manipulating, and becoming the image – drawing its energy from concept into reality.”

Chas Martin, Blue Mesa Leap (2015), Wood, wire, fibers and acrylic polymer with acrylic paint, 20.5″x12″x 6.5″.  Courtesy Sacrosanct Gallery (2018).

Curator’s Note: In Blue Mesa Leap, the ethereally translucent human figure appears to flicker on the precipice of a cliff’s edge. Much like the flame of a votive candle, switching positions with a mere breath’s exhale, or the gust of a wild wind, the flame’s heat and sustainability are uncertain. Has he or she landed or are they taking flight? Added to the motion of catching an imaginary asteroid (or is there a child) seemingly plummeted mid-air, we have a breathtaking stylistic sculpture that highlights an often overlooked material use.

Candace Primack said, “Having studied art history and church history for many years, I am drawn to antiquity, loving that which is ancient and worn with layers that evoke a bit of mystery. In my paintings, I build up many layers, sometimes as many as 15. Working intuitively, I add and subtract these layers throughout the painting process so that at least a hint of the earlier history is revealed. The scratching, mark-making and symbols create a bit of a raw and organic effect, while at the same time pulling the viewer into a place of quiet reflection. The large, vibrant, hand-mixed color fields are meant to give the eyes a pleasant place to rest. No matter the painting, I strive to work from a place of gratitude, longing, and inner peace, feeling always that painting is not just a choice, but rather my calling. I have shown widely throughout the United States and my work appears in many private collections in the USA and abroad.”

Candace Primack, Beatitudes (2015), 2015, mixed media (plaster, acrylics, charcoal), 30”x 40”x2.5”. Courtesy Sacrosanct Gallery (2018).

Curator’s Note:  In Beatitudes, we get a sense of the condensed, rushed, impulsive, intensive, free-flowing way in which one might expectantly approach a votive prayer in today’s fast-paced life.  So much need and so little time…our prayers and intentions gush out of our neatly compacted compartmental worlds in words and sentences we may not even understand.  Added to the design aesthetic of the red, white, and blue color fields (standards colors for votive glass) we have an added sense of patriotism, nationalism, and Americana; scarred yet hopeful – just like us.

Alfredo Arreguín has a long and distinguished list of accomplishments.  In 2007-2008, he was invited by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to show his work at the Portraiture Now: Framing Memory exhibition in Washington, D.C.  In 2008, the University of California at Riverside honored him with the Tomás Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, he received a Timeless Award from the University of Washington’s College of Arts and Sciences, during the commemoration of its 150th anniversary. In January of 2013, the State of Michoacán, Mexico, through the State Department of Culture, organized an Homage to Alfredo Arreguín “to recognize his distinguished trajectory in the arts and his dedication as promoter of Mexican culture at the international level.” The homage included an exhibition of his works organized by the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo ‘Alfredo Zalce’ at the Centro Cultural Clavijero. In 2014, Arreguín was invited to participate in a collective show, Imagining Deep Time, hosted by the National Academy of Sciences, in Washington, D. C., and also had three solo shows in Spain; first at the Palacio del Conde Luna, in the city of León; next at the Museo de América, in Madrid; and at the last one at the Museo de Cadiz. In 2018, Arreguin was the second person to receive The Keys of the City of Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico.  The first one to receive this honor was Pope Francis in 2017.

Alfredo Arreguin, Migration (2016), Oils/canvas, Migration, 60″X48″. Courtesy of Sacrosanct Gallery.

Curator’s Note:  An exhibition theme sometimes must be interpreted broadly. In this nature-inspired piece with Mexican, Native American, and possibly Japanese leanings, we think of the sun and moon and the migration of birds and fish as representational wishes and prayers in flight before the great orb.  If ever there were a votive, certainly those celestial objects are the votive of our lives.  This intricately painted nod to the sea, the air, and earth reminded us that all our prayers and votive intentions are transitory and constantly changing in a great tapestry.

Adrienne Moumin‘s Glow is a representation of her photographic Storefront series.  Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1961, she received her B.A. in Documentary Visual Studies and Society from The State University of New York at Empire State College in 1999.  Moumin has exhibited nationwide, including Central Booking in New York; David & Schweitzer Contemporary in Brooklyn; and The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC. Her work has been reviewed in Hyperallergic, and featured in the Sun and New York Gallery Guide.  In 2016, Moumin received a grant from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, MD to create several large-scale photo collages. She is a Design Consultant for the Wheaton, MD Town Square Redevelopment Public Art Project and lives and works in New York City, NY and Silver Spring, MD.


Adrienne Moumin, Glow, Silver Gelatin Print, Selenium Toned, 16-3/4″ x 12-3/4″ image on 20″ x 16″ paper.  Reference No., printed 6/08
Edition of 15. Courtesy Sacrosanct Gallery (2018).

Curator’s Note:  The light is not only intent in the electric bulbs of the candelabra, and in the street light and hairline reflected in the window shop glass, or off the intricate garment beading and fabric folds, but is so intense that it sparkles and shimmers off the focal point of the mannequin’s extended false eyelashes and cosmetic makeup. Adrienne has captured what it is to be lit (figuratively, colloquially, and literally) in the presence and absence of artificial lighting. She has also demonstrated the fact that light always overpowers gaudy embellishment or casual gaze.

James Walker never made a conscious decision to become an artist, it is something he has done for as long as he can remember. It is his way of being enveloped as completely as possible in the present moment and a method to collect reference points along the way.  With a background in photo-journalism, Walker takes a documentary approach to almost all of the work out of his new Denver, Colorado location.  In the late 80’s, he discovered punk rock music and skateboarding and since then, the original do-it-yourself aesthetic of these two art forms has continued to influence his creative process. Walker does not create “projects” instead, the art is a direct reflection of what is currently happening in life, one long autobiographical adventure. After earning an MFA in photography, he continued pursuing a love of art in multiple artistic disciplines. Walker’s belief is that photography depicts a so-called reality, and painting, drawing, etc. projects the dream behind that reality.  Presently, he enjoys blurring the lines between different media types.  Recent works consist of oil paintings, water colors, printmaking, photography, and mixed-media.

James Walker, All We Have is Now (2017),
mixed media: acrylic, aerosol, colored pencil, copper leaf, water color,
18″x22″   Courtesy of Sacrosanct Gallery (2018).

Curator’s Note: A faded memory of a skateboard ride and the alight of an inked street pigeon are set in the fore- and background of stenciled letters in a pasted billboard styling.  As we light candles before a statue or sacred image, we do not honor the statue or the image itself, but whom that statue or image represents. In this work, completely full of urban heart, we have the elements of what the artist is carrying in personal votive as sacred in his life.  

Debbie Cootware‘s Out of Darkness, from her Prophetic series, stems from a call to ministry with a completion of a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Theology. As an ordained minister, she continues to share her love of God in her artwork.  It wasn’t until Cootware became a mother that she began to paint. She spent mom’s night out in painting workshops at local art stores where she began working with oils. She achieve some proficiency but switched to acrylics after a few paintings were reworked by tiny fingers.  Debra continued learning in workshops and from any art book she could get into her hands. One book taught that artists depend on 2 percent natural ability and 98 percent practice.  She took that to heart and continues to practice while homeschooling her four children. She also operates Sleight of Hand, a small business selling paintings, murals, and portraits.

Debra Cootware, Out of Darkness (2018), acrylic painting on wrap around canvas, 24″x 24″.  Courtesy Sacrosanct Gallery.

Curator’s Note:  Just as most traditional votives have votive holders, we as carriers of the light also have a holder. In this compelling portraiture, we are taken with the flesh and veining of the male holder’s hands in contrast with an exposed pale female neck, both set against a field of darkness. Since the earliest days of faith, when services could only be held at night for fear of persecution, votives were practical usage for lighting during worship.  The light shed by the candle (female figure) symbolized the light of the divine, just as the holder (male figure) symbolizes the experiential carrier.  We view this piece both as highly humble and inspired AND as critically, politically, and contemporarily controversial. 

Ricky Havens executed Spiritual Warfare after he began his artistic endeavor in the mid ’80s as a sign-writer, painting his works on everything from motorcycles to billboards. It wouldn’t be until the late ’90s when he would leave the industry and focus on his own art and begin to teach himself to use oils. From abstracted views with subliminal imagery to realism exposing spiritual beings, his works come together after hours of study and painted layers. His surrealistic dreams weave an emotional web across the canvas in a array of masculine colors. Not only revealing the purity of the feminine spirit, but as well, the spiritual warfare that exists in every soul.

Ricky Havens, Spiritual Warfare (2007), Oil Painting, 48”x36”.  Courtesy of Sacrosanct Gallery.

Curator’s Note:  Votives are traditionally either short and stout, elongated tapers, or large-diameter waxed candles. In Havens’ oil, we see the representation of forms similar to warheads or humans.  A second look made us think of ancient etchings or faces.  A third look brought us to trees and stained glass.  Truly a complex offering of color and composition, this piece is one we can view and come back to with relative certainty we will see something completely new each and every time.  To us, that also represented the spirit of the votive candle, a concentration that never truly is stagnant. 

Marlene Burns offers us an abstract entitled Purim: Feast of Lots.  As told in the Megillat Esther, the story recounts a time of persecution of the Jews. Following the destruction of the first Temple in 423 B.C.E., Jews were exiled to Babylonia. Some 50 years later, Persia conquered Babylon and King Achashverosh established his kingdom in the city of Shushon. The villain in this story was Haman, who convinced the King that the Jews needed to be exterminated. Lots were drawn to decide the date of the annihilation. Working together, our heroes Mordechai and his niece Esther (who hid her Jewish identity and became the new Queen) were able to save the Jews.  When the Book of Esther is publicly chanted on the 14th day of the month of Adar, the crowd drowns out Haman’s name with the sound of groggers.  Purim is celebrated with costumes, drinking and merriment, as one of our most joyous holidays. We make Hamanatashen cookies, to remind us of Haman’s triangular shaped hat. The central shape in the painting is a triangle that moves clockwise to form a Star of David, a symbol of our faith. The location of this story is alluded to with the Persian arched portal serving as a backdrop, as well as the decoration that frames the base of the design.  God is represented by the color red. Not only does He anchor the story, he is woven through it to remind our people that God is always with us, even during our exiles.

sacred intention #3
Marlene Burns, Purim: Feast of Lots (2010), mixed media, 36″x36″.  Courtesy Sacrosanct Gallery.

Curator’s Note:  For love of blue, and for inter-faith works that are cross-representational and cross-cultural, we see an artist living in Arizona, who is not held by traditional regional themes, palettes, or styles.  Additionally, Marlene’s works can be produced as embellished giclees, on paper, as greeting cards, or as fabric pillows.  We were taken by the architectural construct of two columns meeting, or two columns forming from one source.  This is indicative of votive light and intent everywhere.

Closing Thoughts

Sacrosanct Gallery is exceptionally pleased at the quality and range of artists curated for “Votive,” a challenging and abstract theme. More than 60 individual artists submitted works for broad interpretation.  These artists spanned a cross-range of disciplines, including abstracts, photography, representational, pop-surrealism, drawings, collage, wood mandalas, cubism, oils, color field and more. In addition, although we set out only to show two-dimensional works, we made one singular exception with a deeply committed artist out of Portland, Oregon.

We are particularly encouraged at the entries from international artists who seek to break into the sacred and spiritual realm and its showcasing opportunities, even given that our concentration is on American art.  Amazing entries came in from Lebanon, France, Canada, Australia, Poland, London, and Switzerland.

We thank all who expressed a desire to partner with us, and invite all to not only submit to the next show “Micromosaics” but also to take a moment to reflect on the light of the artists featured above who personify and exemplify what it is to burn brightly.


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