A Sanctuary for Psychedelic Art Opens in the Hudson Valley

Artists Alex and Alison Gray take a cold shower each morning, meditate, read aloud, and then be strapped to an inversion table that turns upside down to use gravity to straighten their spines.

The act of hanging in this manner was suggested by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann, considered the father of LSD, who synthesized the hallucinogen in 1943. “This should get blood to the brain,” said 69-year-old Alex Gray. A soft voice that crackles like dim fire.

He and his wife Alison Gray, 71, chapel of the sacred mirroris a nonprofit organization that combines elements of a cultural institution and a multifaith church in the Hudson Valley town of Wappinger. Scheduled to open on June 3rd EntheonHoused in a converted 19th-century carriage house on the grounds of the chapel, the 12,000-square-foot exhibition space presents visionary art, focusing on the artists’ psychedelic spiritual insights and mystical states of consciousness. Dedicated.

“We’re reinventing ourselves a little bit,” she said. “I call this social sculpture: bringing communities together around visionary art for the purpose of uplifting people.”

On June 3, 1976, just 47 years before Entheon was scheduled to open, the Grays overdosed on LSD and immersed themselves in what they called the “Universal Mind Lattice,” an energy that makes all beings feel connected. Soaked. This experience fueled their urge to create a visionary, art-focused community.

The central element of Entheon is Alex Gray’s epic Sacred Mirrors. This is a series of 21 of his paintings depicting the nervous, cardiovascular, lymphatic, and other physiological systems of life-size figures. At one end of the room are three of his paintings, ‘Psychic Energy Systems’, ‘Spiritual Energy Systems’ and ‘Universal Mind Lattice’, which represent the energies and higher order that he believes embraces us all. I draw the human body as a container of consciousness.

Entheon also features artwork by leading visionary artists from around the world, as well as a gallery dedicated to the art of Alison Gray, with paintings such as ‘Realms of the Unpronounceable’ and ‘Chaos Order Secret Writing’. will be She uses her very fine Windsor Newton brush to paint a series of fine squares. Each square is part of an intricate geometric pattern that creates a larger rainbow mosaic.

The couple opened a chapel in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood in 2004 to provide a space for members and the public to contemplate the practice of art as a spiritual path. It attracted psychedelic and metaphysical fans who traveled, prayed and came to admire Gray’s art.

In 2008, their nonprofit paid $1.8 million for 40 acres of land in Wappinger and moved the chapel upstate, but was initially denied a property tax exemption for religious sites.

“At first nobody really knew what they were. It was confusing,” said Dutchess County legislator and Wappinger town historian Joseph D. Cavaccini. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the chapel, the people said.

For years, Grays hosted full-moon gatherings on the property, inviting guests to watch performers wield chains of fire in dizzying patterns. Allison Gray initially said she had “made some mistakes and caused trouble for our neighbors and needed to fix it.” They work with the Sheriff’s Department to ensure that visitors are not disturbed, and six of the seventeen staff currently live on the premises, some of whom have medical training.

“They have literally been exemplary civic groups in the town,” Richard L. Thurston, Wappinger’s town superintendent since 2018, said today.

With the opening of Entheon, “it’s not going to be exactly the same as before,” said Alex Gray. “We have a museum space now and it’s a different kind of being. We probably won’t be doing as many raiders.”

He and his wife are struggling with post-COVID-19 symptoms, as well as the need to raise funds (estimated at $3 million) to complete their vision of Entheon’s appearance, which features a monolithic 3D-printed face. welcomes a change of pace. Made of lightweight glass fiber reinforced concrete.

Curiosity about psychedelics and their role in the chapel is nothing new to Gray. They dedicated a room in the Entheon to psychedelic relics, including Dr. Hoffman’s glasses, New Age guru Baba Lum Dass’ hair, a piece of Timothy Leary’s ashes, and a 2,000-year-old Mayan A mushroom stone is displayed.

“We’re a church and we’re talking about psychedelics, so it makes sense for people to say, ‘Oh, they’re a drug cult,'” said Alex Gray. “If you have a broader perception of how psychedelics have affected human consciousness over the millennia, you may find that this is actually not all that uncommon. “

Bard College art history professor Susan Abbas agrees. “I think Alex’s work speaks to different generations in different ways. It’s something that he and his wife continue to mean about the needs of people who are not being met by traditional religions.” It tells the story,” she said.

Glaze aims to be a space where people can visit after a psychedelic experience and confirm their vision. If the law on legalizing psychedelic use is finally relaxed, it could be used as a ceremony space for psychedelic use.

“This is where Alex and Allison are trying to advocate for the religious use of psychedelics,” says Rick Doblin, founder and president of the Interdisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Research, a nonprofit based in San Jose, California. Told. Concerning medical research and education related to psychedelics and cannabis use. “I think their art can help people incorporate the process of integration more into their daily lives.”

Author and alternative medicine star Deepak Chopra, Advisor to the Chapel of the Sacred Mirror, uses Alex Gray’s paintings in his lectures to explore the connections between body, mind, intellect, ego and spirit. Helping people understand abstract spiritual concepts. He believes places like Entheon have a greater purpose.

“There is no substitute for an immersive experience, which is why people make pilgrimages to sacred sites,” said Dr. Chopra.

“If you look at everything that’s happening right now — social and economic injustice, mass immigration, pandemics — they’re all individually conditioned projections of the mind,” he said. Mentioned some of the human thought patterns. It is shaped by social norms and cultural beliefs. “And once you experience this interconnectedness, participating in war or terrorism or destroying the environment becomes abhorrent in a way.”

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