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Dionicio Rodriguez, Crystal Shrine Grotto

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Visiting Information

I-240 exit 15 (Poplar Ave., not toward Germantown) on the northwest side. Drive west, then turn into the Memphis Memorial Park cemetery. You can see the Grotto's spire from the entrance, straight ahead. Admission is free. Open daily 10-4.

About the Artist/Site

The Crystal Shrine Grotto is one of several constructions designed by Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez for the Memorial Park Funeral Home & Cemetery in Memphis, TN.  Rodriguez’s constructions for the cemetary include Annie Laurie’s Wishing Chair and Rose Garden, The Wishing Well, The Fountain of Youth, The Broken Tree Bench, and Abraham’s Oak, but the Chrystal Shrine Grotto is the most elaborate of his designs.

Rodriguez was commissioned to do the project starting in 1935 by entrepenuer E.C. Hinds who wanted to make a cemetary similar to Forrest Lawn in Los Angeles, with no traditional tombstones but with beautiful works of art celebrating nature and Judeo-Christian ideas.

Rodriguez created his sculptures by shaping wire mesh around copper and steel tubing and then filling in these shapes with cement. As he shaped the wet cement he would add dyes to give the figures color.  He was very secretive about his process for coloring and staining the concrete, hiding his colors before he began his artistic process and throwing them away when he was done with a project.

Inside the Grotto is a man-made cave with stalagtites and stalagmites.  The dioramas depict the Nativity, the Last Supper, the Resurrection, and other scenes from the life of Christ carved in rock quartz crystal, semi-precious stones and wood.

- SPACES Archives

 

Map and site information

5668 Poplar Ave
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Latitude/Longitude: 35.105618 / -89.875956

Visiting Information

I-240 exit 15 (Poplar Ave., not toward Germantown) on the northwest side. Drive west, then turn into the Memphis Memorial Park cemetery. You can see the Grotto's spire from the entrance, straight ahead. Admission is free. Open daily 10-4.

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