By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
BALTIMORE, Md.—October 10 was a perfect fall evening to open the doors to a new art gallery in Baltimore. Entering the small café-style storefront, visitors could smell fresh paint and drink in the artsy feel of the older building. About 90 people, mostly in their 20’s and 30’s, attended the show. They strolled from painting to painting, munched on cheeses and pastries, sipped chilled coffee and Thai tea and chatted with the artists. At one end of the room, chairs were set up in preparation for a music concert.
But this art enthusiasts’ evening wasn’t just a new show in town. It was the grand opening of a new meeting place for The Light Church, a re-launch, located on North Charles Street, smack dab in the middle of Baltimore’s arts and entertainment district. The Light is working to represent Christ to Baltimore’s art community and to give local artists a chance to show and sell their art and to provide Christians with the opportunity to worship God in a fresh new way.
Local artist Jason Pastrana’s work was displayed in the front room. Pastrana is part of The Light’s core group and works as a graphic artist for the Grace Life Network. The Light Church is one of three churches in the “network” and they share staff and resources to reach young people in Baltimore.
One of Pastrana’s works shows Peter, slumped over, carrying an enormous net on his back looking fatigued.
“It shows the burden of being a fisher of men,” Pastrana explained. “It was a bigger burden than Peter realized it was going to be,” he reflected.
Next to that is one of King David as a boy in the field. Behind him in the background is the cross, and around him is discarded battle equipment from the Philistine army.
Pastrana tried to explain how the pictures were really digital images, using real models that are photographed. The photographs are then scanned and maneuvered. He cited all sorts of technical artistic processes that the naked non-artist eye could not see or understand, though could definitely appreciate.
Across from those photos were contemporary pictures of Norman Rockwell, Jimmy Hendrix and Andy Warhol. Pastrana explained that he tried to show what he perceived each artist’s version was of heaven. For example, Hendrix is clearly in the throes of musical ecstasy – perhaps his view of heaven. One of Pastrana’s favorites is his painting of Tito Puente, whom Pastrana describes as a legendary Latin American percussionist.
Jocelyn Bocchino, a member of The Light Church, a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and currently an art teacher, displayed figurative art. One work showed brilliant metallic red with a large blue green splash slicing it. Bocchino hadn’t named the work as of the evening but was considering “Red Sea.” Looking at it, one could imagine the blue green flash in the middle being like a bolt of lightning or the hand of God dividing the sea for the Israelites. But that was just this viewer’s thoughts. Bocchino said she is very careful about naming her works. She wants to give viewers a place to start and then allow their minds to wander along where their imaginations take them.
“Art is very spiritual,” Bocchino said. As a Christian, she shared she is free to acknowledge God and incorporate her faith in her works.
“Her passion for the Word and for art and how it comes together is amazing,” Bill Pitts, pastor of The Light, said.
The inaugural display ran through mid-November. A new show opens at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5. Several local artists’ works will be displayed, and there will be food and live music.
In addition to the art shows and Sunday worship, the church has movie nights and worship, music and art nights where folks can paint, use clay, draw with markers and basically explore their creativity during worship. The church is also planning music concerts and poetry nights. For more information see www.atthelight.org.