Church Reclaims Oil Paintings of Saints
Cantlon, Cleo. "Church
Reclaims Oil Paintings of Saints." Minot
Daily News, n.d.
Karlsruhe - Two 70-year-old paintings of Saints
Peter and Paul again hang near the altar of the Karlsruhe Catholic
church, thanks to a parish committee and Minot artist Judy Bell.
Life-size paintings of the church's patron saints were completed
in 1915 by Count Berthold Von Imhoff.
The count, who began painting when he was 7, won the Berlin Art
Academy award when he was 16. He came to North America from Karlsruhe,
Germany, when he was 24 and settled at St. Walburg, Saskatchewan,
When he died in 1939 Von Imhoff left more than 200 paintings
behind, including many in a museum at St. Walburg. He said he
enjoyed painting at Karlsruhe because it reminded him of home.
The North Dakota parish also enjoyed the renditions of their
patron saints. But in the 1960s, the church was remodeled and
the pictures, which had been attached directly to the walls, were
ripped down and put aside.
Maggie Mack, head of the 1992 redorating committee, said at first
the paintings were folded up and stored in the boiler room on
top of the furnace. Then parishioner Eddie Bossert rescued them
and stored them at his farm another 30 years, until Mack's group
persisted in having them evaluated.
The parish council decided not to use church operating funds
to cover the $2,500 needed for restoration and framing, the Rev.
Joseph Senger, pastor of the mission parish at Karlsruhe, said.
But the money was raised through a special feast day dinner and
Mack's committee contacted former parishioner Tim Greenheck of
Minot, who operates a gallery and framing shop. He sent them to
Judy Bell, an artist who has also restored art works over the
past several years.
"These were the biggest pieces I'd ever worked on,"
Bell said, "and they looked pretty hopeless in the beginning.
They were cracked where they had been folded, and canvas beneath
the paint was deteriorating."
Besides having spent 30 years in storage, the paintings had initially
shared the church with a wood stove which added a layer of soot
bell had to do the cleaning and restoration in her garage, both
because of their 9-foot height and the toxic chemicals necessary
"I found wonderful color underneath," she commented.
Bell also admired the interesting scrollwork Von Imhoff painted
around each portrait.
She repaired the damage, re-lined the canvases, finished out
the tops of pictures to fit on Greenheck's new square wooden frames,
and varnished them.
Bell and Greenheck also were working against a deadline, which
they met: the restored paintings were hung in time to celebrate
feast days for Saints Peter and Paul in Karlsruhe June 29, 1992.
Reprinted with permission of the Minot Daily News.