Encounter Christ at Stafford Library’s biblical art show
Meet artist, hear models’ testimonies at open house
By Julie Filby
ARTIST Paul Grass holds a photo of one of his works at the Cardinal Stafford Library, where an exhibit of his artwork will be displayed March 20 through May 17.
The biblical artwork of Paul Grass will be featured at an upcoming show hosted at the Cardinal Stafford Library on the campus of the John Paul II Center in Denver. The show will launch with an open house on the evening of March 20 when several drawings and sketches will be on display, a never-before-seen piece will be unveiled, and models who posed for the artwork will share their experience being part of the process, as it relates to Scripture.
Some of the pieces to be included are “Parable of the Virgins,” “Bearing of the Cross,” and “The First Martyr.”
“It’s been my dream to paint biblical pieces,” Grass told the Denver Catholic Register Feb. 26 from the library where the event will be held beginning at 6 p.m. The ensuing program of prayer, song, poetry and speakers—titled “Jesus Met Them Saying ‘All Hail’” (Matt 28:9)—will run from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Grass, who said he’s been an artist since first grade, didn’t always paint with a Christian theme. Previously he focused on more secular subjects such as rock stars Jimmy Hendrix and Jim Morrison.
“Until the last two years, I hadn’t done much Christian work; I felt like I did an ‘about face,’” he said.
“Many artists will tell you the hardest thing to do is to paint Jesus,” he continued. “Before I could do that, I felt I had to clean up my own life to be worthy. I worked really hard to get my life together and now I am devoted to Christian artwork.”
He has been working on pieces for the show for a year, including six biblical sketches, a painting of the Nativity—and the subject of the drawing to be unveiled, which remains under wraps. He hopes his work brings people closer to Christ, asserting that his satisfaction comes from that, not from payment.
The program will begin with hymns, followed by prayer and an introduction by Ben Akers, director of Denver’s Catholic Biblical School, commentary from Grass, poetry, refreshments—and testimony from models including those who posed as “Jesus,” and “Mary, Mother of Zebedee’s Sons.”
“Sharing their experience (of modeling) really touches the audience, sometimes more than the art,” he said, adding that they are often brought to tears during their testimony. “That emotional
potency is the Word of the Lord, not me.”
The show, running until May 17, will also include artwork from students of the Religious Academy, a non-denominational art school where Grass serves as director.
The academy opened last June at his studio at 30 S. Pearl St., No. 307, in Denver. There students, age 12 and up, learn to illustrate the Bible. Beginners to advanced artists meet the first and third Wednesday of each month and work in various media including graphite, oils and water color paints.
Grass, while not Catholic—he is affiliated with the Methodist Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—has been influenced by the Catholic Church and her art. He had the opportunity to see many pieces of sacred art while studying in Italy in 2002. He also had an unexpected encounter with holiness during that time.
“I was in the courtyard of St. Peter’s Square one day when I got to see John Paul II walk right by,” he said excitedly, as he recalled being just feet away from the pontiff. “It was on the day of St. Peter and St. Paul, and I’m named after Paul.”
It was one of the highlights of his life, he said.
“I didn’t know he was scheduled to process that day,” he continued. “My grandfather (who was Catholic) always told me John Paul II was such a good man. It was powerful to be in his presence.”
Ten percent of sales from Grass’ show will be donated to the Archdiocese of Denver. For more information, visit www.PaulGrassFineArt.Word-Press.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about the open house, call the library at 303-715-3146.
Julie Filby: 303-715-3123; Julie.email@example.com; www.twitter.com/DCRegisterJulie