Toni-Lee Sangastiano

I had the pleasure of meeting Burlington based artist Toni-Lee Sangastiano yesterday, who spoke with me about meeting with Canadian independent curator Ola Wlusek through her participation in Burlington City Art's Visiting Critics program. Toni-Lee's work (what I saw) ranges from pointed social-commentary installation to colorful, large-scale sideshow banners, but what caught particularly caught my eye (surprise) was her use of Italian street shrine niches in Florence. 

Toni-Lee explained to me that she restricted herself to using only items purchased at the European 99-cent store, and made lanterns using Coca-Cola cans and glow sticks. For each altar she installed, she made a corresponding map of its location drawn on marbled paper she made while studying there. 

She writes on her website: Misguided Adorations repurposes vacant Italian street shrine alcoves as slyly subversive altars to consumer culture and maps of their locations with Florentine marbling. Created during her sabbatical in Florence, Italy, this photographic series documents Sangastiano’s luminous art-installations created from low cost consumer goods, including soft drink cans transformed with pin-hole tracings and glow-sticks.

An Order

The two-day exhibition An Order included five artists who each made installations responding to the space that used to be Saint Joseph's Providence Orphan Asylum. The show's organizer, Abbey Meaker, has been creating lens-based work that she calls "semi-archaeological" based on her investigations of the former orphanage for approximately three years, which includes an active Facebook group for adults who once lived or worked at St. Joseph's.  The participating artists are Meaker, Wylie Garcia, Sarah O'Connell, Rebecca Weisman, and Mary Zompetti. 

In the short amount of time I've been back in Vermont, this is the second time that a public arts event allowed me to visit the inside of an otherwise off-limits building - the first was the Moran Plant. An Order let visitors explore a portion of the former orphanage, which operated from 1885 to the early 1980s, and then became a part of Burlington College - before its impending transformation into private housing. 

In the giant, high-ceilinged chapel, the five artists created a Last Supper-styled altar tableaux, which to my delight was arranged below a giant rolled screen hung from the ceiling, a presumably coincidental (?) comment on the proximity of different kinds of image-worship. I spoke briefly to Meaker, who said that the entire altar was created using items that the artists had found from around the property. 

I am from Lysol and pillows/Yamilet Mendez Altar + Poem

Yesterday in near-to-full single-housewife mode at Silverlake Trader Joe's, picking up supplies for Easter party extravagances - oranges, orange juice, flowers - new community exhibition Where I'm From caught my eye. Organized by the Zimmer Children's Museum youTHink program, the pairs of images and writing from local students were the results of a photography workshop led by award-winning photojournalist and South Central native Sophia Nahli Allison. Students were asked first to write poetry on the topic of "Where I'm From" and to then use their poetic imagination to capture and create images. 

Yamilet Mendez is a 9th grader at Diego Rivera Learning Complex in South Central. Her image appears to be of an in-home altar, though further clarification would be needed to know for certain. Here is the accompanying poem: 

Where I'm From

I am from Lysol and pillows,

from habits abide.

I am from the comforts of home

where I can be who I want to be.

I am from the roses, delicate

but a thorny side when provoked.

I am from pinatas and festivity, 

from laughing and dancing about, 

from clouds in the sky above

and memories that never fade away.


High Desert (Rain) Edition

It's no surprise, but Joshua Tree and its surrounding area (Yucca Valley, Landers, Pioneertown) is replete with altars and altar-like installations, from Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Museum to the Joshua Tree Health Foods counter. 

This altar-like piece is against the wall inside (a detail of, if you will) Noah Purifoy's Carousel, one of over 20 assemblage sculpture installations in the Outdoor Desert Art Museum off of Blair Lane, in what feels like the absolute middle of nowhere. Lauren and I just barely got tickets for the day's last sound bath at the Integratron, and with two hours to romp around before vibration-bathing and a map graciously provided by an Integratron crew member, we went rumbling down the dirt roads to find Noah's museum, a High Desert Test Site.

While many of the constructions and pilings are arranged like altars or memorials, this particular section of Carousel stands out for its resemblance to early Christian altarpieces, and for the three small wooden crosses at the top. Crosses and groupings of crosses are found throughout the ODAM. 

Bottom left image from Noah Purifoy Foundation website, bottom right image from High Desert Test Site website. 


We passed this memorial to Dennis Ray Caton (1/29/1974 - 4/2/2010) on Border Ave between the ODAM and the Integratron. According to the Hi-Desert Star, Caton was killed in a motorcycle accident at this intersection. A handful of tiny motorcycles are at the base of the cross. I borrowed Lauren's phone to take pictures, which are oddly glowing, either because of her phone's temperament or the unusual misty, rainy weather, or a combination of both. 


This is the "multi-cultural" altar inside the Integratron, with a sign above it that reads: This "multicultural" altar is filled with sacred objects and mementos left behind by people who were deeply touched by their experience in the Integratron.


A small counter altar inside of a health and wellness store (mostly teas and tinctures) next door to Natural Sisters Cafe along the main drag in Joshua Tree.


This roadside memorial is off of Old Woman Springs Road between Joshua Tree and Landers. It marks the site where, according to the Hi-Desert Star, 11-year-old Jeffrey Matzek and his father Leslie Matzek were killed in a car crash in 2011.  

The Getty

Visited the Getty today with my mama, it was the first time I’ve seen it all socked in by fog and rain—-such a different place.  Instead of a beeline to the changing exhibition halls, I veered left from the main entrance and spent most of my time looking at painted Italian altarpieces.  Below are some of my favorites, with brief descriptions.

From left to right:

1.Detail of The Coronation of the Virgin with Saints 
2.The Coronation of the Virgin with Saints, Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni,1390s, Italy 
3.Detail of The Coronation of the Virgin with Saints 
4.The Chiarito Tabernacle, Pacino di Bonaguida, 1340s, Italy, Chiarito del Voglia had this work created to commemorate his own spiritual experiences, inserting drawings of himself with those depicting the trials of Jesus. 
5.The Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul, Bernardo Daddi, c. 1330, Italy, References the stories of images of the Virgin coming to life for her devotees. 
6.Detail of The Virgin Mary with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Paul