Saturday, August 1, 2015

Visit the 1800s Utopia created by Christians and artists in Indiana

By Ernest Disney-Britton
Present day Labyrinth was reconstructed in 1941
Join Alpha Omega Arts this month, as we escape the clamor of city life for the peace of a weekend in Utopia. Join us, August 21-23, for a weekend retreat in New Harmony, Indiana (pop. 766). It’s a remote town established in 1814 by a group of Christians who broke with the larger world to build their version of heaven. "They say the veil between heaven and earth is very thin here," Linda Warrum, a Town Council member told The Chicago Tribune. "You can't see it and you can't touch it, but you can feel it.”

Today, visitors from all over the world come to experience the town's legacy of spiritual and artistic endeavors spanning over 200 years. We will tour gardens, historic churches, labyrinths and restored Harmonists houses that bring a sense of tranquility. Modern architectural works also reflect these ideals of harmony and spirituality in contemporary society. In 1960, architect Philip Johnson designed the Roofless Church, featuring a dome in the shape of an inverted rosebud. Across the street is Tillich Park, set in a pine grove and dedicated to theologian Paul Tillich. Then there is the Atheneum, another architectural cornerstone of modern New Harmony. Designed by Richard Meier in 1979, and named after Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and the arts.

A more recent addition is the Cathedral Labyrinth and Sacred Garden. Another is the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, a 2,000 square foot area which holds exhibits of Midwestern artists including Quincy Owens, whose studio we visited with you in July. The spirit of Utopia continues to thrive in this town designed for quiet contemplation and spiritual renewal.