Thursday, February 18, 2016

Conestoga visits local glass art

Yesterday our Conestoga group (friends organization for the Ohio History Connection) met at the Ohio Historical Society, got on a bus and enjoyed a delightful day of seeing beautiful glass art in Columbus, Ohio. First we went to Franklin Art Glass in German Village, a family owned and operated stained glass studio since its inception in 1924, the largest in Ohio. We had a tour of the product/sales section and the studios where the artisans prepare work to order. Our guide explained about the design to glass to finished work procedure, and showed us many wonderful pieces.
Then it was back on the bus (we were using a school bus so it was easier to navigate the narrow streets of German Village) for our luncheon spot, Schmidt's Sausage Haus where we enjoyed a lovely buffet lunch of Bahama Mamas, Bratwurst, potato salad, tossed salad, saurkraut, and mini-cream puffs. For a number of years the German Village Schmidt's was our Friday Night date spot, but we hadn't been there for a number of years. Still has great food.

Then it was on to Trinity Episcopal Church down town on Capitol Square where we had a lecture and tour by the Rector, Richard Burnett. The congregation was founded in 1817 and the current building was designed by Gordon Lloyd in the Gothic Revival style and built after the Civil War. The Church in the World window on the west side was designed by William Kielblock and made by the Franklin Art Glass Co., and was dedicated in 1965.  I'd heard about it for years--unfortunately, in 1970 a new organ completely obscured the window from view on the inside, where we were. I understand that you can see it from the outside with interior illumination.  It has been criticized as too secular, with flags of the U.S., landmarks of the statehouse, O'Shaughnessy Dam, city skyscrapers, Port Columbus airport, John Glenn's spacecraft, etc., as though the church is embracing the world. I guess I'll never have the opportunity to judge!  The windows behind the altar had also been somewhat obscured by a huge skyscraper blocking the light--and light is always a partner in art glass. They were in the art deco style.
Then it was a short bus ride to St. Joseph Cathedral which began as a modest brick church building in 1866, but was rebuilt soon after as a stone cathedral when the Diocese of Columbus was established.  The lot size was rather small, so the cathedral is not large.  Conestoga had a Christmas dinner here several years ago, so we had already had a tour of the organ loft, which is really incredible.  We also had a brief concert while we were there.  The windows were replaced during the WWI era, and because of the war, had been buried for awhile in Germany to protect them. They were made by F. X. Zettler of the Royal Bavarian Art Institute. Names of donors appear on the windows.
Our final stop was Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, and I just don't have words to describe the loveliness of this church and our spectacular guide, who was able to explain all the mosaic art and also provide a wonderful evangelistic story of faith, symbols, and art. It's just amazing what a faithful, small group of Greek immigrants were able to do. All the mosaics were made by Bruno Salvatori of Florence, Italy, and are spectacular in detail and beauty. They consist of about five million tiles of Venetian glass and 24-carat gold.  There's not another church in Columbus (or maybe Ohio) that tells the gospel better through its art.
Check here for further details.
It was a long day, but we came home tired and fulfilled and spiritually uplifted.

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