In 2008, visionary artists (and married couple) Alex and Allyson Grey vacated New York City and set their interconnected sights on establishing an alternative spiritual center at a former Christian retreat and summer camp in Wappingers Falls. The Greys’ Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM) is an interfaith church that celebrates creativity as a spiritual path. When it was based in Chelsea, a large gallery housed Alex’s iconic depictions of human evolution through multiple dimensions of reality in a richly decorated hall on 24th Street. A new sanctuary space, Entheon, has not yet been completed upstate, but classes, celebrations, and other events are currently being held at CoSM.
Renovating an 1862 structure to achieve a more cosmic purpose in the 21st century entailed a thorough makeover. The Victorian house—one of six buildings on the 40-acre retreat center that needed rehabilitation—got a complete facelift. “In designing the existing space, we took into account the origin of the house, preserving and even casting original moldings to replace gaps,” says Allyson Grey. “Every surface, molding, trim, and door was stripped, sanded, repainted. Moldy walls were cleared and replaced with plywood and sheet rock to hang art. Windows throughout the three-story, 10-bedroom house were ecologically replaced, except for the vintage window and doors in the library. We wanted to create a welcoming home environment for our spiritual community.”
The first-floor parlor and library spaces, both of which are replete with working fireplaces, host indoor events that include a monthly full moon gathering and celestial celebrations, plus weekend performances of music, dance, poetry, film screenings, notable speakers, and authors’ readings, along with rituals such as weddings, baby blessings, recommitment ceremonies, and memorial services.
Art Church takes place one Sunday a month in the CoSM library, where its whitewashed walls serve as a backdrop to paintings symbolic of the vision both Alex and Allyson have shared since 1985. A Voodoo cross from New Orleans and a number of reproductions of Alex’s major works are exhibited there—including Kissing, One, Cosmic Elf, Collective Vision, Namaste, Ocean of Love Bliss, Aperture, Universal Mind Lattice, Spiritual Energy System, Psychic Energy System, Kiss of the Muse, and Love Is a Cosmic Force—along with Allyson’s Adam & Eve. Altars surround the space, along with symbolic representations of a diverse range of faiths and traditions.
Their inclusion emphasizes CoSM’s two core principles: acceptance of all paths to the Divine and reverence for spiritual creativity. “We celebrate art, music, dance, theater, writing, and poetry that issues from spiritual realization,” says Allyson. “All faiths open a beautiful path to the sacred and use the arts to express their meaning. We gather as a community to activate our creativity as spiritual practice. When we make art together, a new way of seeing may emerge. We are here, as Sacred Mirrors, to reflect and reinforce the redemptive transformative power of art in each of our lives.”
At the next Art Church (to be held September 16, 1pm to 5pm), Alex and Allyson will discuss art’s mission and purpose, highlighting ideas from Alex’s book, The Mission of Art, and exploring techniques in the creation of art that bring about catharsis and awakening. Participants should have a sketchbook and drawing materials or a journal. Admission is $10 online, $15 at the door, free to CoSM members. CoSM, located at 46 Deer Hill Road in Wappingers Falls, is open weekends, Friday to Monday, from noon until 6pm, when the Mushroom Cafe and CoSM Shop are open for snacks and inspirational products.