Thursday, November 22, 2012

Building a Temple in the Middle of Nowhere

A sunset gathering on the newly created floor of the Temple of Life

In September I met with Mark and Kate Sorensen who own a magical place in northern Arizona they call Gateway Ranch. It is on the edge of the Navajo reservation about 30 miles northeast of Flagstaff. It has been the location of many fun and interesting events over the years. We talked about the the idea of building a small chapel somewhere on their property. One that is not dedicated to any particular religion but is more of a space that inspires lofty thoughts and introspection. We decided to go for it and the adventure began. Construction started at the end of September, 2012.

Some of the main features of this temple are that it will be built collaboratively by all who wish to participate. It will be totally covered (encrusted might be a better word) with found object art made out of trash, recyclable materials and cool junk. Once again, all who wish to contribute by making art for the temple are welcome to add their bit to it. Another feature is that it will be open to the public as well as available for private contemplation, ceremonies, meetings, or whatever other ideas we come up with.

A conceptual drawing
I have long thought it would be great to create little temples in unexpected, out-of-the-way places. The first one I build ended up being less of a temple and more of a tower. It is in East Jesus, California and still needs more art on it (hint, hint).

Gateway Ranch is a perfect location for a temple. It is definitely out of the way - 7 miles down a dirt road in a starkly beautiful area of grassland and cinder cones. The views are tremendous in all directions. We wandered all over their property looking for just the right spot. We definitely found it. It is awe-inspiring. The view to the east is of the Painted Desert. To the south is a large cinder cone. To the west is a spectacular view of the San Francisco Peaks and to the north are the Hopi mesas and Roden Crater, a huge earth-art project by light and space artist James Turrell.

We are calling this particular temple project The Temple of Life. It will be a fairly extensive project that will take a year or more to complete. It will be constructed during a series of work-parties held once a month until it's done. There will also be mosaic and assemblage art workshops held in various locations in Arizona. I think the first mosaic workshop will be in Tucson in January or February.

We finished the foundation and floor at the beginning of October and, at the November work-party, we got most of the walls up and sheathed. In December we will build the upper level framing and maybe get some roof framing on. The hope is to have the structural part of construction done by the end of the year so we can begin with the art and decoration part of the process.

If you are interested in helping with this project, or just want to keep up with its progress, I created a blog for it called the Temple of Life at There is also a Facebook Page for the Temple of Life at Gateway Ranch at The Facebook page is where we will do most of the coordinating for the work parties so, if you want to help, that's where to check.

We plan to to a crowd source funding program with either Kickstarter or Indiegogo. We need to pay for the building materials for the structural stuff and associated costs. I am thinking, if we raise $5000, that ought to be enough to get us mostly there.

The Temple of Life will be yet another fun, artistic adventure in the Zone. Come play with us!