Reflections On Original Conception

Sculptors conceive, architects see, but nature has the final say…

feature image bw

Marguerite Brunswig Staude, an Arizona rancher and sculptor saw the newly-completed Empire State Building in 1932 and had a vision—for a church. Her first attempt to build it was in Europe where Frank Lloyd Wright would handle the project. WWII ended the project before it began but in 1956, she brought her vision home to Sedona…24 years after original conception. A San Francisco firm that made its mark designing filling stations after the War was hired for the project…a leap of faith in no mean proportion. You just never know. It turned out the red rock of Sedona had a vision of its own. And resistance was futile. The Chapel Of The Holy Cross, a masterpiece of mid-century modern was completed in 1957. Forty years later Arizonans designated it one of the “Seven Man-Made Wonders Of Arizona.” Behind every man-made wonder is a wonder woman. Somewhere along the way the Chapel found itself in the arms of the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and the St John Vianney Parish in Sedona. There’s no daily or Sunday mass but people are always in attendance.

Chapel Of The Holy Cross - front
The Chapel Of The Holy Cross rises out of the red-rock
walkway supports
The built environment emerges intentionally from the natural environment
bench on plaza
Like everything else the plaza and its bench are spawned from natural rock
people on walkway
Wherever you go at The Chapel Of The Holy Cross there’s a feeling of being suspended
view from inside chapel
The altar itself seems to be suspended in air
The Chapel Of The Holy Cross is the ultimate abstraction of a Mesopotamian Ziggurat, “the platform between Heaven and Earth”
cactus at Holy Cross Chapel
Vicious beautiful cacti stand like The Swiss Guard around The Chapel Of The Holy Cross
view from parking
The experience unfolds with each step toward the plaza elevation

The art-deco Empire State Building rose from the bedrock of Manhattan, a sculptor conceived a church, an architect saw a Ziggurat, and Nature said “let there be flowers on this desert rock.” Upon reflection there’s no accounting for any of it…

You can never predict the outcome of an original conception.

tundra at chapel
Sedona, Arizona – February 1st 2014
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5 thoughts on “Reflections On Original Conception”

  1. When we drove by this Chapel in the 80s, I said “this is where I want to get married”. I have often wondered what that altar looked liked. Now I know. Thank you

    Sent from my iPad



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