Friday, May 27, 2011

Finding unity through art

Alex and Allyson Grey to present the Cosmic Salon

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy photo Allyson and Alex Grey will present CoSM at the Cosmic Salon at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival on Saturday, May 28.

In 1996, visionary artists Allyson and Alex Grey, along with Wood River Valley resident Bex Wilkinson, co-founded the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors or CoSM. 

Wilkinson said it all started in the Greys' Brooklyn loft.

"We started the journey to build an enduring sanctuary of visionary art to inspire every pilgrim's creative path as well as help them to embody the values of love and perennial wisdom," she said.

In 2004, CoSM opened in Manhattan with a celebrated public exhibition that included the "Sacred Mirrors," a series of mystical masterpieces by Alex. Wilkinson said the exhibition's purpose was to embrace the redemptive mission of art as a means of lifting humanity beyond destructive and material tendencies.

"The Greys chose to make the 'Sacred Mirrors,' a 21-panel art piece, and other works publicly available rather than dispersing the artwork into private collections," she said. 

In 2008, CoSM bought a 40-acre retreat center in Wappinger, N.Y., which is easily accessible from New York City. Wilkinson said the location, in the exquisite natural beauty of the Hudson Valley, is poised to become a pilgrimage site to rebirth and the creative spirit.

"Many people have already come, and many more are coming," she said. "Some volunteers live on the land and help with the vision. At this pivotal moment in history, creating sacred space that honors the mystic core of all religions and cultures will activate feelings of interconnectedness and empower people with faith to solve the problems confronting humanity and the web of life."

  Wilkinson said CoSM is dedicated to building a structure that gives people a symbolic focal point to transcend their differences and create something beautiful.

Wilkinson said the Greys, and the community that supports the vision, believe that true artistic expression is a spiritual path. Alex, also a poet and author, travels the world with Allyson lecturing and presenting the idea of CoSM. The New York Times wrote, "(Alex) Grey's vision of a flawed but perfectible mankind stands as an antidote to the cynicism and spiritual malaise prevalent in much contemporary art."

"The seven buildings on the land are used to run retreats for art, spiritual missions, weddings, full- and new-moon celebrations and lectures," she said. "The Cosmic Salon that will be presented at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival is a byproduct of the Ethnocentric Salons that occur at CoSM in New York."  

Traditionally, the Ethnocentric Salons are an all-night dance party with live painting by the Greys, with art supplies for participants and DJ dance music.

At the festival, the Cosmic Salon will feature Sarah Jezebel belly dancing along with music by DJ Dub Magi and a light installation with Phantomime, who is Brian James. All the Cosmic Salon participants from the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors will come from New York to perform in Sun Valley. The Cosmic Salon will also include visionary banners, group art-making and a CoSM store. Alex will paint live and Allyson and others will presents her prose-poetry work "Art Psalms."

The Comic Salon will take place on Saturday, May 28, from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. at the Sun Valley Inn Continental Room. Bring art materials and prepare to dance. Tickets are $35 and $15 for students under 21. The event is free for Saturday and weekend pass holders. For details, visit

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