Paganicon adds ‘Sacred Gallery Space’

The third anniversary of Paganicon, a three day convention for Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists held in the Twin Cities, also features The Third Offering, a sacred gallery space and temporary shrine.

Producers for the art show say this exhibit is quite different from an art exhibit at a science fiction convention or even other Pagan conventions.  “This is one of the things that makes our project different from, for instance, a typical science fiction con, where anything and everything that might possibly  relate to the SF scene is brought together in a fairly chaotic assemblage,” says Paul Rucker, co-producer for The Third Offering.  “We are combining the atmosphere of a gallery with a temple. And to my knowledge, there is no other indoor Pagan con, not even Pantheacon, that is doing anything quite like this.”

The idea for this year’s gallery began with an art exhibit that Rucker and fellow Helga HedgeWalker created for Paganicon 2012.  It was open for only two hours, but the positive response by attendees convinced the Paganicon board to expand the concept and have it open throughout the duration of the convention.  Rucker and HedgeWalker were asked to design and co-produce the prototype  for this exhibition this year.

The name for the exhibit, The Third Offering, comes from local ritualist and historian Steven Posch. Posch and HedgeWalker belong to the same coven, which made three  offerings to Minnehaha Falls at the autumn 2012 Pagan Pride festival.  The first sacred offering was water, the second was bread, while the third offering was rose petals, representing beauty. “Steve’s model of the “three offerings”  not only demonstrates the value of making beauty, of creativity, as valid and essential components of experiencing the sacred, but also, as I came to see, a useful way of picturing cultural maturity,” said Rucker.  He went on to say that when concerns for survival, legitimacy, and other cultural basics are addressed, space is made for beauty. “I suggested calling our exhibition space,  “The Third Offering Gallery” to highlight the importance of Beauty as food for the soul, and for an evolving culture.”

Yet the space is not just an art exhibit, it’s also a temporary shrine.  That idea came from HedgeWalker, who believes shrines are part of how a community can interact with the sacred and the beautiful. Both co-producers say, in future years, they may expand the sacred gallery space to include artists whose specific task is to design the shrine and ritual activity for this event.

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The Third Offering features paintings, charcoal, photography, ceramics, and mixed media.  Seven artists, including Rucker and HedgeWalker, are part of this year’s show. Rucker and HedgeWalker also hand selected the artists due to a shortened time table for getting the exhibit launched.  The Paganicon Board also wanted to create a first example of what this could be, before it was opened up further the next year.  For 2014 there will be an official Call For Art to give area artists time to  create new works for submission and there will be a committee that reviews submissions for acceptance.  Rucker says they are open to more three dimensional and sculptural works in the future and ” If we can figure out how to incorporate video and perhaps “time-based” installations in future, we would like to open up the field further.”

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Rucker, who has created other group Pagan art shows in the past, says, “Pagan themed art is diff

icult to place in traditional galleries, and opportunities to experience several artists whose works and worldviews overlap in this vein, is rare.”  He

 hopes attendees gain something through the concept they are creating for Paganicon, “Helga and I are both committed to the idea that art’s essence must be experienced directly, in the flesh as it were, by contact with original works. There is a mana in originals that cannot be described, only experienced. How much more so, when several like-spirited works are housed together.”

The Third Offering opens with a reception this Friday at 9:30pm in room 232.  Some of the artists’ works are available for purchase.  Rucker, HedgeWalker, and Posch are offering a panel presentation Sunday morning on The Third Offering: Sacred Beauty.