"Spiritual Warfare" to be showcased at NRG Gallery
The paintings of Westgate resident Rick Blackburn blend together spiritual and natural reality in his upcoming exhibition, “Spiritual Warfare.”
The showcase is between noon and 4 p.m. on July 7 at NRG Gallery at Hoge Memorial Presbyterian Church, 2930 W. Broad St.
Blackburn has been working on the exhibit since 2007. He completed “Spiritual Warfare” last month on his birthday.
Thirteen images depict local churches Blackburn photographed with a disposable camera.
He started with 35 pictures of Christian churches, ranging from Methodist to Greek Orthodox, but narrowed the catalogue to 12 locations.
He added a 13th canvas to accommodate a photograph of an urban church a friend snapped independently and passed along.
Parkview United Methodist, Glenview United Methodist, Hilltop Lutheran, Hillcrest Baptist and Westside Freewill Baptist churches are some of the places featured in the exhibition.
Blackburn experiments with the sky in each painting, adding elements like angels and fighter jets. He said it creates intrigue and sometimes conjures creepiness in the painting.
Manipulating the reality by playing with the sky serves as a catalyst to address social issues, he said.
One controversial piece will be shielded by a screen. The painting’s inspiration stems from the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, he said, and tackles the social repercussions of abortion.
Blackburn graduated from Westland High School in 1973, the same year as the Roe v. Wade ruling.
While the imagery of the exhibition is painted to illustrate Blackburn’s consciousness, he said visitors would find their own meaning behind each piece.
Blackburn has shown his artwork in the Short North and those paintings dealt with the streetscapes of Columbus. “Spiritual Warfare” is his most courageous endeavor, he said, because the exhibition goes deeper and is blatantly personal.
If the exhibit does not fare as well as hoped, he said he is still satisfied by the outcome and context of this work.
Blackburn said society is in poor shape, and hopes his paintings get visitors to pause and re-evaluate today’s moral compass and values.