A compendium of craft masquerading as art, art masquerading as craft, and craft extending its middle finger.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Domo Arigato, Ave Maria Grotto!


Halloween is over for another year. Sigh. Don't get mired in depression, though--it's All Saints Day! Think of all of the Saintcraft out there. It takes a pretty awesome reliquary to house a few bones from the wise men, or the shriveled kidney of Saint Peter. One towering monument to the saints is the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama. Brother Joseph Zoetti, an obsessive, pint-sized master Benedictine Monk built 125 miniature buildings at his monastery over the course of 24 years. The miniatures, which are replications of biblical and religious buildings, are adorned with seashells, miniature sculptures, and functioning light bulbs. I've had the pleasure of visiting the Grotto, and I have to say that it delivers big in the wonder department. The construction is deliciously low-tech--the ornaments on the building are amazing, but make no effort to disguise their materials or construction.

My grandfather posessed a similar gift, and built dollhouses for my sisters that were replicas of the houses he grew up in, and a model barn for me. He detailed the buildings down to the lightning rods and weathervanes, which, in the case of my barn, used a rubber grape for its body. I guess what I'm saying is that you should start cultivating artistic stalkers here and now. You're not as cute as Jodie Foster, so they might not try to off the president for you, but you might just garner a papier mache shrine or miniature city.

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