Who designed and created the world’s largest stained glass window? Conrad Pickel, the resident and designer of numerous buildings in Boynton Beach, FL! Come and celebrate the legacy of Conrad Pickel on Saturday, May 23rd. A major influence within the stained glass industry in the United States, he was a gifted painter, wood carver and mosaic artist. The Rickie Report is excited to share the details about this event. There will be bus tours, lectures, and demonstrations by experts in glass making and stained glass. Meet the family living in one of the homes he designed! Be part of Florida’s heritage-tourism and be proud! These events are Free to the public, but you must register for the bus tour.
Conrad Pickel (1906 – 1994) learned the art of stained glass with the renown Mayer Studio in Munich, Germany. He opened his own studio in 1947 in Milwaukee, WI, which quickly grew into one of the leading studios in the United States. In 1956, Mr. Pickel opened a branch in Vero Beach, Florida and transferred the complete operation there in 1977. Mr. Pickel lived in Pompano Beach, FL. and moved to Boynton Beach, FL in 1956 until his death. He designed five buildings in Boynton Beach.
The tour will depart at the Boynton Beach City Library, 208 S. Seacrest Blvd. at 8 a.m. The tour, which will be narrated by City of Boynton Beach Historic Preservation Planner, Warren Adams, and President of the Boynton Beach Historical Society, Janet DeVries, will visit 5 locations that highlight Conrad Pickel’s stain glass pieces: Boynton Beach Memorial Park Mausoleum, Ascension Lutheran Church, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Former Gallery Fantasia, and St. Mark’s Church. The tour is free. However, interested attendees must call 561.742.6066 to register.
On completion of the bus tour, at approximately 10:30 a.m., the program will begin at the Boynton Beach City Library, 208 S. Seacrest Blvd. with a series of lectures on Conrad Pickel by Janet DeVries, President, Boynton Beach Historical Society; Shanon Materio, President, McMow Art Glass; Paul Pickel, President, Conrad Pickel Studio; Rick Eggert, Creative Director, Benzaiten Center for the Creative Arts and the Jacarusos, owners of a Conrad Pickel designed house. In addition, there will be glass art demonstrations and an exhibit of Conrad Pickel’s art, vision and dreams.
Conrad Pickel Mausoleum Stained Glass in Boynton Beach, FL
A major influence in the stained glass industry in the U.S., Pickel invented decralite block. His appreciation for how glass could transform simple concrete blocks can be seen at his most well-known structure in Boynton Beach, Gallery Fantasia. He incorporated faceted glass in the blocks which were then used as structural elements in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s.
Example of Conrad Pickel’s Decralite Block
Mr. Pickel’s designs to make a simple water tower a piece of public art were embraced by the City Of Boynton Beach. We share one of the images here. Their construction was unable to be completed due to budget issues.
Drawing of Conrad Pickel Water Tower Surround
Mr. Pickel, known throughout the world for his expressionistic stained-glass creations, built the Gallery Fantasia in Boynton Beach in 1974. The artistic gathering place, to which Mr. Pickel charged no admission, closed in 1983 after expenses continued to outpace donations. The Sun Sentinel reported his quote: “When we closed it, you wouldn’t have believed the complaints,” he said at the time. “A city without art is a city without a soul.”
Museum of Stained Glass Concept of Conrad Pickel Photo Courtesy of Conrad Pickel Studio Website
Under the direction of Mr. Pickel’s son, Paul, the studio continues to develop new techniques and applications for stained glass and mosaic. In addition to a presentation by Paul, the community will meet the Jacaruso family, who lives in the home constructed by Conrad Pickel located in Pompano Beach, FL.
Conrad Pickel, Self Portrait. Image courtesy of Conrad Pickel Studio Website
We share an excerpt from his son, Paul, who wrote about the stained glass window in Our Lady of Lourdes:
“Stained glass without light would of course be nothing. Conrad Pickel became his own master in using light and a master of controlling light to strengthen his designs. He was never afraid to use black and preached this lesson to me constantly. There is always a halation of certain colors as light passes through stained glass. Painted line work and lead lines become smaller with the halation of light. He brings out the richness of color and was aware of how light affected his line work and facial details realizing his line work would become smaller as the light passed through the glass. He selected glass that has beautiful shading and he sought out glass that was not perfect. He wanted glass that showed its handmade characteristics. He wanted glass that had natural lines and bubbles all to alter and enhance the rays of light as they passed through the glass.”
Conrad Pickel at work, Photo Courtesy of Conrad Pickel Studio Website
“Wherever I go to see my father’s work, the color of glass is the key to his design, is his selection of a beautiful cobalt blue. It has a bit of gray in it, a bit of purple but it is mainly soft, peaceful and yes, spiritual. Many times it is referred to as the Pickel Blue. People generally love stained glass as the morning light pours through the colored glass but also one of the most spiritual times to appreciate a Pickel Window with its special Pickel Blues is to be by oneself, in a darkening church, as the sun is receding. As light enters through, the striking blues and darkening rich colors, that special experience of stained glass cannot help but move one’s soul. The designs by Conrad Pickel for the stained glass windows of Our Lady of Lourdes are timeless and should undoubtedly be appreciated by many generations to come. This is the true genius and beauty of his work.”
The Pickel Studio with more than a half-century of commissions to its credit, continues to create innovative stained glass, mosaic and sculpture for religious, secular and public projects throughout North America.
The City of Boynton Beach recognizes the importance of preserving its historic resources and has adopted a preservation ordinance as the foundation for a comprehensive preservation program. The program is to include a Historic Resources Preservation Board for program oversight; a property tax exemption component; and guidelines, standards, and procedures for the maintenance and modification of historic properties.
The City has also initiated a community education campaign to inform the public of the value of historic preservation, the aforementioned tax exception program, and how historic preservation can be a tool for stabilizing aging neighborhoods, fostering community cohesiveness and furthering civic pride.
For more information, call Debby Coles-Dobay, Public Art Manager, at 561-742-6026 or Warren Adams, Historic Preservation Planner, at 561-742-6757
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Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420