Two Rivers parishioners put artistic talents on display

By Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass | March 25, 2015

Local artists create Stations of Cross

TWO RIVERS — Members of St. Peter the Fisherman Parish possess a variety of God-given talents. One of those skills is on display this Lenten season for all to see.

Deacon Paul Gleichner, pastoral associate at St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in Two Rivers, stands by his drawing of the fourth Station of the Cross, Jesus meets his mother. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)
Deacon Paul Gleichner, pastoral associate at St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in Two Rivers, stands by his drawing of the fourth Station of the Cross, Jesus meets his mother. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)

Ten members of the parish utilized their artistic abilities to create unique renderings of the 14 Stations of the Cross. Their creations — which range from wood carvings to acrylic paintings to tasteful caricatures — are on display in the inside gathering space near the church entrance.

“We’ve received a lot of compliments from people about the time and effort that was put into these works and how nice they are,” said Deacon Paul Gleichner, pastoral associate at St. Peter the Fisherman, who devoted five hours to producing a pencil drawing of the fourth station. “I think everyone is very happy with how they turned out.”

This is the first year St. Peter the Fisherman has embarked on a project like this.

Deacon Gleichner, who came up with the idea, led a similar effort while serving at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Newton. He also was involved with a Stations of the Cross art project at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, where he used to be a student (he minored in art) and later worked in several leadership positions.

Deacon Gleichner said he left things wide open for St. Peter the Fisherman parishioners.

“I didn’t want people to feel hindered,” he said. “I wanted them to make their creations in whatever way the spirit moved them.”

Parishioners who created Stations of the Cross were Jerry Levanetz, Donald DuBois, Matt Slattery, Dean Konop, Elaine Steckler, Pete Schoepp, Sr., Sheila Bialek and Dan Tegen. Konop, a caricature artist, and DuBois, a retired art teacher and wood sculptor, each made three Stations of the Cross.

In addition, Fr. Tom Reynebeau took part, making the ninth Station of the Cross.

Their works went on display the night before Ash Wednesday and will remain up through Easter.

Gleichner said that although the church features beautiful, formal Stations of the Cross, “people get used to seeing them and walk right by. This is a great way to draw attention back to the Stations of the Cross for Lent. And for the artists who do them, each station they do becomes a meditation in prayer while doing art work.”

Tegen, who has been dabbling in art for the past five years since retiring, said he spent 15 hours creating an acrylic painting of the 14th Station of the Cross.

“I looked at some pictures and thought about some ways I wanted it to look,” Tegen said. “I think it turned out well.”

Tegen and Levanetz, both of Two Rivers, said it’s refreshing to see their fellow parishioners’ artistic styles.

“Everyone is amazed at how much talent there is in this parish,” Levanetz said.

It took Levanetz about seven hours to create his painting of the first Station of the Cross.

“I wanted Jesus to look gaunt because I think that’s how he would have appeared,” Levanetz said. “It ended up being a happy accident when I was making it, but I had comments on his eyes being piercing and his jawbone was sunken. I wanted that expression that he had been in pain, so he wasn’t going to have a smile on his face.”

Deacon Gleichner also put plenty of thought into his drawing.

“I drew the picture of Mary in a particular way,” he said. “If a mother was watching her son being beaten and tortured on the way to his execution, I wonder how she’d be — and that’s what I tried to draw.”

Deacon Gleichner, who served in the military and spent a year in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm, added, “When you think of the bombings in the Middle East … when they show a group of Middle Eastern women, they’re usually wailing and screaming, not standing quietly. So I tried to get the look of a modern day Middle Eastern woman … one who’s really grieving.”

Levanetz serves Mass twice a week, and said he routinely hears people offer positive feedback about the artists’ creations.

“It was a great idea by Deacon Paul to have us do something like this,” Levanetz said. “I’m a weekend warrior, not a professional painter, but I think it turned out OK.”

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