Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Art and Architecture All Around

The work may be done in Mother Baltimore, but another Basilica enhancement project's taking place out West: the Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano in California's preparing to welcome and install a $2 million retablo currently being built in Spain.
The artwork – which is "stylistically reminiscent of 17th and 18th century Spanish colonial and Mexican colonial retablos" – is expected to arrive in January and be ready for the Swallows Day celebration in March, Holquin said. Almost 100 people are working on the piece, which will be sent in parts via cargo ship and trucked to San Juan from the Port of San Pedro.

Among the retablo's special touches: hand-carved images of swallows, grapes and angels in its columns; four niches for statues of Junipero Serra, Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Joseph, and a central image painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The basilica, one of six in the state, was built 20 years ago. It is part of the mission campus but operates separately. There is an ongoing effort to refurbish the church. Some upcoming improvements include refinishing pews, installing new lighting and upgrading the sound system, said Mechelle Lawrence, mission executive director. In addition, crews have placed 13-foot pylons underground to support the retablo, and in a few weeks, a steel framework to provide vertical support will arrive.