We met our neighbor, Jared, at the mailboxes. He pulled a pamphlet from “In Touch Ministries” out of his box and gave it to us. He told us he didn’t know why he got these and he said he had sent them an email to ask them to take his name off their mailing list. An avowed atheist, he said, “I think the world would be better off if they banned all religions.”
Our friend Pete is attracted to the spirituality in art and his art certainly has that as a foundation. I came across a couple of passages I thought he would like so I texted them to him. He called a few minutes later to say he loved the statements and we arranged to meet in his hospital room today at one.
When we got to the front desk, a woman was checking out as we were checking in. She told the woman behind the desk that she had been visiting Peter Monacelli. I told her we were on our way up there and I asked how he was doing. She said, “He has lots of stories.” We were thrilled to hear this. That is the Pete we know.
We found his new room and shouted in to him. He told us we had to suit up with the baby blue gowns and dark blue gloves that were sitting by the door. And while we did he sang the first verse of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue.”
He has been in the hospital long enough to see the division between life inside, where the focus is on healing, and outside where the focus is on . . . here he let us fill in the blank. I was thinking “Partying? Peggi said “Living?” Pete offered “Fixing things.” Imagine if we focused on healing on the outside.
Below are the two statements I sent Pete.
Chillida – “I am a religious man. Questions of faith and my problems as an artist are closely linked. Naturally my conception of space has a spiritual dimension, just as it also has a philosophical dimension. My continued rebellion against the laws of gravity has a religious aspect.“
Kiki Smith – “It’s one of my loose theories that Catholicism and art have gone well together because both believe in the physical manifestation of the spiritual world, that it’s through the physical world that you have spiritual life, that you have to be here physically in a body. You have all this interaction with objects, with rosaries and medals. It believes in the physical world. It’s a thing culture.“
“It’s also about storytelling in that sense, about reiterating over and over and over again these mythological stories about saints and other deities that can come and intervene for you on your behalf. All the saints have attributes that are attached to them and you recognize them through their iconography. And it’s about transcendence and transmigration, something moving always from one state to another. And art is in a sense like a proof: it’s something that moves from your insides into the physical world, and at the same time it’s just a representation of your insides. It doesn’t rob you of your insides and it’s always different, but in a different form from your spirit.”