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Reverend, Collector, and Unlikely Tastemaker: The Story of Al Shands

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky — Long before Reverend Al Shands bought his first contemporary artwork, he founded an Episcopal church that met weekly at a Washington, D.C. seafood restaurant. “I find the wholesome, institutional nature of the church rather boring. But I do not find religion boring. To pray, I do not find boring,” he said. For six years during the 1960s, Shands was able to maintain this unusual congregation. “The only place we could afford to start meeting was in the restaurant. We used the mixing bowl as the baptismal font, the wine came from the bar, our bread was the rolls they served and our altar was the table.” For Shands, “The religious encounter is like a dinner party.”