by Jack Russell
Down University, left on Sollace L. Freeman, left on Sherwood, right on Garnertown and you’ll find yourself at Iona Art Sanctuary, more specifically, a big white/gray veranda’d barn-ish structure opening onto the sunset side of a seven-acre field. A nude sculpted angel hangs above the barn door, and there’s many more like it inside. A whole naked nativity. Nude angels swing suspended from the rafters, a well-endowed Joseph watches Mary breastfeed. The thirteen sculptures lay atop and over a deep blue moon; starry electric panels form a ring around the figures. The scene is reverent, cosmic, eternal. The artist is Edward Carlos, a retired Sewanee professor and former director of the University Art Gallery who has organized the construction, design and operation of Iona for over nine years. Carlos is highly supportive of the local arts community, hosting poetry readings in autumn and visual art exhibits year-round.
October 26, Sewanee’s own Poet Society gathered for the last Iona-hosted reading of the semester. Over thirty poets and nonperforming poetry enthusiasts filled red chairs on the east side of the building. Stretching up the back wall is “Lost Love,” a nearly twenty foot tall black and white photomosaic that the exactly twenty foot tall barn was designed to accommodate. Carlos kicked off the proceedings with a speech on the dynamics of poetry readings and offered some advice to those about to read. Then it began. Poems about Little Rock, writer’s block, almost getting shot, SpongeBob, Shakespeare, roadtrips, monologues, disconnects, the Death of the American Dream and grapes were shared and enjoyed. A professional guitarist played at the conclusion as the audience wandered in more or less the direction of the refreshment table, situated in the center of a collection of paintings and sculptures by Carlos’s wife Sarah. It’s a long wait until next fall, but come Advent Semester 2015, the building will swell again with poets.
That’s not to say the entire sanctuary is closed for the year. Iona is open to the public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon until 5:00 p.m. For additional information, contact Carlos at 931-598-0203, or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.