Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Plato's cave, look out

What do you get when you cross an artist with a library? ...A cave! Okay, let me explain. I was recently welcomed into the home of artist and actor Leigh McCloskey and his lovely wife, Carla, for a film screening. Leigh is a spiritual man, very gestural and easily possessed by his ideas. In a word, he is impassioned. His library-turned-cave is a perfect example.

Leigh, shortly after 9/11, decided a re-structuring of the world was in order. His solution? To turn his library into a celestial, cosmic space laden with paintings of sacred feminines and metaphysical imagery. But it's a little more complex than that. While I can't do justice to Leigh's process, in summary he sees great importance in the intersection of humanity and the universe at large. He believes that we have lost touch with our interconnectedness; that we have become critics and not creators, and the remedy for this is reconnecting with the extra-human realm.

His vision has manifested into something spectacular. The ceilings, walls and floors of his library are all painted in a royal blue. Fluorescent figures, symbols and shapes float through the space. Lilith and Eve make an appearance amidst radiant bursts of light and figures with glowing halos. No feature or accessory has been ignored either. Even the spines of books are painted. So is the couch, including the underside of the cushions. A freestanding column beside the couch has an image of Eve swirling around it. There is a bowl resting atop the column that Leigh says represents Eve's chalice. He doesn't miss a thing. I can't help but imagine him painting in some entranced reverie, initiating every object or fixture into his little blue world.

And while the images and motifs seem kind of chaotic, according to Leigh they actually reflect a method. Everything in the room plays off one another, sort of like a map of the universe.

If you are wondering why Leigh calls this space a cave, it has to do with the primordial nature of its namesake. Caves harken back to a time when humans were more connected with themselves and the universe. Whether you experience a 70s throwback or an otherworldly dimension on this visit, the sensory experience is palpable. It's too bad Plato's prisoners didn't have colorful digs like this.

[Photo courtesy of Leigh McCloskey's website:]