Take a ride on a magical, mystical, mystery tour of obscure psychic artifacts by visiting Beverly Rayner’s “Museum of Mesmerism & Psychic Art” exhibit at the Triton Museum of Art.
Bordering on the bizarre, the contents of Rayner’s show are “on loan from the collection of the Museum of Mesmerism & Psychic Art, which Beverly Rayner established in 1999 in the town of Bzinica Stara, Poland.”
The display is set up with plaques containing interesting stories about how each item was acquired or what it means. For example, the “Victorian pinned effigy (voodoo) doll,” a pin-pricked fabric doll laying atop a raised blue striped mattress, blue blanket and stained cream pillow case, was “found” in “the attic of a former brothel in the infamous Storyville section of New Orleans after the floods of Hurricane Katrina subsided. Legend has it that Eugenie Grey, an unstable ‘working girl,’ know to all as ‘Genie,’ was banished from the main house and forced to live in the attic since she was such a troublemaker. She took out her grievances on her enemies, real or imagined, by stealing a lock of their hair that would then be used in the creation of her powerful voodoo objects.”
Other oddities include the “Set of child’s enchantment dolls,” a box of six small dolls; “Book of Oracles,” a frayed book with nine sets of eyes peering out through the cover, and “A traveling mesmerist’s toolkit,” a “doctor’s kit” containing tool like “a ‘vision-spinner’ used for quickly shifting focus from a normal plane of reality to a parallel plane.”
While this is an art exhibit, viewers are compelled to buy into the collection of “diverse examples of psychic, mesmeric, hypnotic, trance, mystical, illusionist and voodoo artifacts, as well as spirit photographs and visionary artworks.” To put the truth of the show in perspective, Rayner’s entire body of work is created out of her fascination with human nature and psychological quirks, and explores how people see themselves and relate to each other. However, Rayner does claim to have established the Museum of Mesmerism & Psychic Art after discovering an abandoned building owned by her great-great aunt, Bronka Katarzyna, who set up shop in Poland after escaping persecution for practicing her “arts” in Romania. So, the belief is up to the viewer: is there really a museum, or is it a carefully and wonderfully crafted exhibit of created objects?
“Beverly Rayner: Museum of Mesmerism & Psychic Art” runs through April 18 at the Triton Musuem, 1505 Warburton Ave., Santa Clara. Visit www.trititonmuseum.org for additional information.