Social Circumstances, by Bernice Appelin-Williams. The Sacred Art of Altars runs September 1-30 at the Bijou Cinema. Photo by Penny Malone.
Social Circumstances, by Bernice Appelin-Williams. The Sacred Art of Altars runs September 1-30 at the Bijou Cinema. Photo by Penny Malone.

A niche can be an alcove or nook. It can be a recess in a wall to hold a statue or other special object. A nicho combines elements of Catholicity, mestizo spirituality, and appropriated culture. Usually built in the shadow-box style, these little altars can be composed of natural objects, such as stone or earth, or man-made creations such as metal or brick.

Celebration Circle, an inclusive multi-faith community, shows their creative approach to spirituality by showcasing the nicho in the Sacred Art of Altars, an exhibit at the Bijou Cinema and Bistro during the month of September. Each 12X14-inch nicho is crafted of wood by Tim Lapping and then presented to one of the region’s most creative artists.

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The artist will then embellish the shrine with glass beads, ceramic figures, metallic charms, found fabric, or plastic furnishings. Twine, feathers, stone and bone are also used in some creations. Homages to love, the moon, peace, hope, and unity are represented in the nichos. The environment is a recurring theme.

This year’s exhibit of 58 altars will be displayed Sept. 1-30 in the Bijou Cinema gallery. Admission is free (just ask the staff about the altar display) and all are for sale to the highest bidder. This year marks the 12th consecutive year that Celebration Circle is exhibiting this inspiring display and month-long silent auction.

Rudi Harst, spiritual director and co-founder of Celebration Circle, said there are two events associated with the September viewing. The first one is a free event on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 6 – 7:30 p.m.

“You can be one of the first to see this amazing collection of altars,” he said. “And you can meet the artists personally to learn about their inspiration.”

The end of the display will be capped off with a celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 6 – 9:30 p.m. This is Celebration Circle, after all.

“The closing Reception will have hors d’oeuvres, the final bidding, and the official closing of the silent auction,” Harst said. “We will also have a special screening of ‘The Way’ (a 2012 film starring Martin Sheen). It’s a film of a man’s pilgrimage to the Santiago de Compostela (the Way of Saint James) in Spain. It’s a journey of what it means to lead a meaningful life.”

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Tickets for the closing reception and film are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Advance tickets are available here or by calling 210-533-6767

Bijou Cinema and Bistro is located at Wonderland of the Americas Mall at IH-10 and Loop 410. There is no charge to view the Sacred Art of Altars during normal theater operating hours and no charge for the Meet-and-Greet opening event on Tuesday.

Some of the featured artists include: Lyn Belisle, Katherine Brown, Ruth Burink, Sofia Dabalsa, Carolina Flores, Joan Frederick, Rudi Harst, James Hendricks, Deborah Keller-Rihn, Jeff McDaniel, Susie Monday, Cindy Palmer, Ray Palmer, d.ellis phelps, Antonia Richardson, Thom Ricks, and Resa Wohlrabe.

For more information, call Celebration Circle at 210-533-6767 or visit their website.

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