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Daylighting Masterpiece: Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection

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Once upon a time I was a guest LD for Valparaiso University‘s production of Anna Karenina, that was chosen to go to the American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF) Regional show.  There’s only so much cueing you can do in a sitting, and one day I decided to get inspired on campus and visited the University chapel, called the Chapel of the Resurrection.

If you ever have a chance to swing through Valparaiso, Indiana, make a direct stop to see the inside of the Chapel of the Resurrection — this place is absolutely amazing whether you are a believer or an atheist.  Check this out — the Chapel includes an amazing stained glass wall behind the altar (called the Munderloh Windows, designed by Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, MN) which gets a good portion of the daytime sun, giving the Chapel an unbelievably beautiful blue scene.  Some people call it “sermons and sermons of just color.”  From the photo below, I can see why!  Imagine standing in front of this goliath mass of colored translucent magictude:

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About the Chapel of the Resurrection:

Groundbreaking for the Chapel construction took place in 1956. The building was designed by the architectural firm Charles Stade and Associates of Park Ridge, Illinois, though certain elements and features (e.g., the stone baptistry, the stained glass windows, etc.) were designed by other artists. Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, MN designed the 95ft high stained glass windows, as well as the marble interzia altar, and the mosaic at the entrance of the chapel.

The altar is 20 ft long, made of various types of Italian marble. Peter Dohmen designed the inlaid marble pedestals to depict, with symbols, the four evangelists. Matthew is represented by an angel, Mark by a lion, John by an eagle, and Luke by an ox.

Peter Dohmen learned his skills at the top art academies of Europe. He became a well-known artist in Germany during the 1930s, executing major art works, such as stained glass windows, frescos on major public buildings, mosaics, etc. During the early 1940s he was blackballed by the government because of his outspoken opposition of the Nazi party. He immigrated to the United States with his family in 1951 and continued his artistic trade with great success. Amongst some of his major works are the stained glass windows in the library of Notre Dame University.

Total construction costs of the chapel were about $7.5 million, much of which came through individual donations.

The building was dedicated in 1959, part of Valparaiso University’s centennial celebration, and officially designated as the Chapel of the Resurrection at the 10th anniversary service in 1969.

The chapel itself is positioned completely east to west, so the building gets as much natural light as possible.  Morning services are incredible, with those Munderloh Windows telling their own stories of times past:

Valparaiso University's "Chapel of the Resurrection," facing east/west in Valparaiso, Indiana

Valparaiso University’s “Chapel of the Resurrection,” facing east/west in Valparaiso, Indiana

These Munderloh windows are quite incredible, I cannot get enough of them!  A world-renowned glass artists (Peter Dohmen) and his assistant Dieterich Spahn created the Munderloh Windows specifically for Valparaiso University back in the early 1960’s.  I highly recommend checking out Dieterich’s work, that man has the stained glass skills of none other.  About those skills:

1938-1961 Early life

Spahn was born in Cologne in 1938. With the outbreak of World War II his family moved to a farm in Sergen, near Cottbus. After the war they moved again to Düsseldorf where Spahn studied the arts and worked with the renowned Düsseldorf artist Günther Uecker. In 1958 he created his first experimental glass panels. Between 1958 and 1960 he studied at the Werkkunstschule where he was exposed to the traditions of the Bauhaus and Jan Thorn Prikker. The following year he traveled extensively throughout southern France and Spain to study light in architecture. During this period he produced a number of watercolors and oil paintings which are now in private collections throughout Germany.

1961 – Move to the United States

In 1961 Dieterich Spahn was invited by the German-born artist Peter Dohmen to work in his St. Paul studio. It was upon his arrival in America that he began intensive activities with stained glass, mosaic and murals for sacred arts applications. He assisted in the production of a number of noteworthy commissions, including the stained glass windows and mosaics for the university chapel at Valparaiso University in Indiana, which became the largest stained glass windows in the United States.

In 1965 he began independent work in graphic arts. Around this time, the death of his mother prompted him to return to Germany where he viewed many works by Georg Meistermann and Ludwig Schaffrath and reestablished contact with the Düsseldorf art scene. This renewed his interest in painting and over the next several years he produced a series of paintings. In 1969 he returned to Germany to study the works of Georg Meistermann in depth.

1971 – Dieterich Spahn & Associates

Upon returning, Spahn entered into partnership with the New York artist Mel Geary to purchase Peter Dohmen Studios. This partnership saw the production of a number of large commissions, until Geary returned to New York in 1971. In this same year Dieterich Spahn & Associates, Inc. was formed, devoted exclusively to stained glass and mosaics for the sacred arts. Over the next decade Spahn worked with George Winterowd and the nationally recognized church architect Ed Sovik to produce 75 commissions around the country totaling more than 400 stained glass windows.

In 1977 Spahn traveled again to Düsseldorf following the unexpected death of his sister to be with his gravely ill father, who died within days of his arrival. Upon his return to Minneapolis he began a series of oil paintings which moved away from religious themes.

1980 – Family

In 1980 he married Joanne Shafer. Around this time he also met Frank Kacmarcik, a monk at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, and nationally recognized liturgical and architectural consultant. Spahn served as a guest lecturer at St. John’s University about stained glass and sacred art in the contemporary church environment. He also became a member of the St. Paul Archdiocesan Worship Board for Arts and Environment, a position which he held until 1986. 1984 marked the birth of his first son, Kevin, followed by David in 1987 and Alan in 1989. During this time he created a series of paintings drawing inspiration from the childhood images created by his children.

In 1988 Spahn interrupted his painting for over two years to focus on several major projects in stained glass, including the library window for St. Thomas University.  During this period he also traveled to Düsseldorf to view the art of Joseph Beuys. Beuys’ work had a major, positive influence on Spahn’s perception and understanding of all art.

In 1991 Dieterich Spahn participated in the Wendekreis exhibition in Düsseldorf. This prompted a major change in his painting style upon his return. The next decade saw the production of a series of paintings which departed from traditional techniques of representation, as well as a number of large stained glass projects and commissions for liturgical design and consulting.

In 1999 Spahn again changed his painting style by reevaluating the role of the materials used and began a series which he continues to this day. This series of works reflects the changing role of art in the 21st century. In early 2004 he began a collaboration withWillet Hauser Architectural Glass, the largest stained glass studio in the United States, resulting in a large commission for the Chiara Center.

Also, regarding those windows…  those beautiful Munderloh Windows…  from Valpo’s Munderloh Windows page:

Behind the chancel, rising up 98 feet, the east end of the chapel are the beautiful Munderloh Windows, designed by the Peter Dohmen Studios of St. Paul, Minnesota, which capture the fresh morning sun. Often described as “sermons in color,” the stained glass artistry symbolizes the creative work of God the Father, the redemptive work of God the Son, and the sanctifying work of God the Holy Spirit. Illustrated in the window of the creation are the hands of God, a sun, Adam and Eve, plants and trees, and the serpent of temptation. The window of redemption highlights the life of Christ with symbols including a manger, a cross, drops of blood and angels. The window of sanctification is illustrated with ancient scrolls of the Bible, the dove of the Holy Spirit, an angel with a trumpet, and symbols of education such as a lamp, an owl and the torch from the University seal. The windows may be “read” in a clockwise path beginning in the upper right of each window.

Check these out, the photos are awesome (I guess if I do say so myself, since I took them back in 2003!)

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The nave of the chapel is amazing in its own right, with a clerestory-style set of windows on the north and south sides of the chapel.  Instead of horizontal clerestory, the ports are vertical, which creates some incredible shadow gobos all over everything!

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If you prefer to see all of these photos in a blackbox gallery, click on one of the thumbnails below to check them out!

All photos © Jim Hutchison, 2003

$35,000 Per Life, and A Search Warrant for IATSE #30 – Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Update

So, it’s been a little while since we’ve had to see the images of the Indiana State Fair collapse during the Sugarland show on the grandstand. I want everybody to see some of these images again, I think the only way to freshly get it in your head is to see what happened.

First this happened:

Then all of these people did this:

I just read two articles on the collapse and the aftermath. One of them said that the families of the fallen concertgoers were each given $35,000 for their dead loved one and that the Indiana State Fair attendance is lagging due to the “incident,” the other article said that the IATSE Local in Indianapolis, IATSE #30, is experiencing some grind from the lawyers from the state of Indiana. From an article at the Indy Star:

Lawyers for the state and a stagehands union are working on an agreement to turn over documents relating to the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.

A lawyer for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 30 said Wednesday that he was willing to hand over apprenticeship training files on stagehands who were working at the fair when the accident occurred Aug. 13.

Local 30 stopped the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration from conducting a search of its Indianapolis union hall last week. The agency had obtained a search warrant requesting employment disciplinary records, apprenticeship training records, certificates, licenses and other documents.

“We are trying to resolve this in a nonadversarial way,” said William Groth, the lawyer for the union. “We want to cooperate. We just think a search warrant is the nuclear option.”

Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed on Wednesday extended a stay of the search warrant until Nov. 3.

Chetrice Mosely, a spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, said “both sides have agreed to enter a discussion as to how to resolve this. Our goal is to get the records so we can do a comprehensive investigation,” she said.

This is a real bummer. I don’t really have much to comment on about this, I just wanted to share these two stories, as this is still fresh in the hearts of the families and IA brothers and sisters still mourning the loss of their cherished.

Then there was this article

INDIANAPOLIS — Two high-level investigations into the fatal Indiana State Fair stage collapse may not be released in time to help prepare for next year’s fair, the fair’s director said Tuesday.

Indiana State Fair Executive Director Cindy Hoye told a group of lawmakers that information from separate investigations into the stage collapse that killed seven people may not be complete until mid-April.

The state has typically done much of its work for its three-week-long summer fair by that point.

The state hired international engineers Thornton Tomasetti to investigate the wreckage of the stage.

The state also hired Witt Associates to assess the fair’s emergency preparations. Witt has completed much of its work but will wait until the engineers complete their investigation before issuing a report together with them, Hoye said.

“We’re progressing right now with looking at our emergency preparations, we’re doing a lot of front end work,” Hoye said after the meeting. “I think that report will clarify and put a snapshot on some of the things we need to do.”

There is more to this article of course, here – what we should be taking away from this whole thing is the amazing amount of bureaucratic inflighting and policy clouding will be involved with the results of the collapse by that time.  Let’sd hope not much – but we can all watch the news and determine how good this situation is going to come about once it becomes filled with politics.  I sincerely hope for the sake of the hearts of those involved that this time is the one exception.

 

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Claims A Seventh Victim

I want to make sure that no one ever forgets these two images:

Unfortunately, this horrible accident has claimed its seventh life, and now Meagan Toothman’s family is donating her organs, perhaps later today.  Here’s another image not to forget:

Rest in peace, Meagan.  Thanks for donating your organs so that others may improve their quality of life.  We’re really sorry that you had to have this decision made for you.  If you would like to know more about Meagan, check out Meagan’s family’s website on Meagan’s process.  Unfortunately, you know how the story turned out already.

Just a quick recap of some stories you should be reading about this disaster in Indiana:

Boo’s thoughts on the Indiana Stage Collapse

 

Indiana’s Self Policing Raises Questions – this one is kinda great, just because it calls into question the procedures and practices being used by Indiana Fair Investigators.  From the article:

Other states in similar positions have formed special commissions with outside experts to handle investigations, including of a bonfire collapse at Texas A&M University and the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels so far hasn’t mentioned the idea, and instead has repeatedly referred to the wind gust that toppled the stage but spared other nearby structures as a freak occurrence that couldn’t have been anticipated.

“The fair has an interest in protecting itself,” attorney Jerry Miniard of Erlanger, Ky., who is representing an injured girl, said Thursday. “Why in the world would you let someone who may be responsible investigate themselves?”

Miniard said he is a friend of the father of 10-year-old Jade Walcott, whose skull was crushed by the falling stage. He questioned how thorough the probe will be given that it’s nearly all being done in-house.

“The state of Indiana is basically investigating itself,” he said.

Judy Nadler, a former mayor of Santa Clara, Calif., who is a senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, said that could be a mistake.

“There’s this sort of automatic default to say, we have people here internally who can take a look at this … but for something so closely affiliated with the state, it would be wise to call upon someone who doesn’t have any even perceived conflict of interest,” Nadler said. She suggested bringing in someone from outside the state, perhaps even an outside regulator.

“I think it really is such a significant event … it requires a level of independence to fully discern the facts and to fully convey to the public that this was a fair and thorough and impartial and nonpolitical look at what happened,” she said.

State fair officials did announce this week that they had hired New York engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti Inc. to review the stage’s design and construction, but Miniard questioned how far-ranging that probe might be since the state will determine the scope of the investigation.

“The state of Indiana is in complete control over the investigation,” Miniard said. “And the state’s interests are possibly different than those people who were injured or killed.

Fair spokesman Andy Klotz said the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other agencies conducting their own investigations will all report to the fair commission. “I am quite sure that everybody is going to be satisfied with the thoroughness of this investigation,” he said. “And nobody wants the answers more than us.”

You know what, I’m not touching that one today.

Also, see the article Indiana State Fair’s Disaster Preparedness Plan is One Page Long.

You still think this is a fluke, Governor Daniels?

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse – The Score is Still FIVE DEAD.

Folks, there are two images in all of the last year I will remember.  This one:

and this one:

These two images go above all politics, all speculation about who was wrong, who was right, and who was there or not there.  Mother Nature whipped our collective industry butts on this one, regardless of who was at fault.  I’ve speculated, we’ve all speculated.  Cross bracing, guy wires, ballast tanks, longer than 10 minutes weather warning, all of it has been speculated.  What’s still reality is that we’ve got five people still dead, millions in damages, and some very, very bad situations right now on the ground at the Indiana State Fair.

I really hope that this entire investigation is kept as transparent as air, and I really hope that Governor Daniels stops talking about it, because every time he does, he gaffs something bigger than the last gaff he made.  Let’s remember that the score is still five dead.

 

SIDE NOTE:  I have gotten some information on how to donate to Nate’s family.  Please send donations to:

IATSE LOCAL 30
ATTN:NATHAN BYRD FAMILY (you MUST SPECIFY)
1407 EAST RIVERSIDE DRIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46202-2037

None of this is going to be pretty.  We’re going to have experts calling other experts nasty names, people telling other people they have no bearing for their arguments, and when all else fails, we’ll hear people calling each other stupid.  The score is still FIVE DEAD.  I’m leaving out the wounded numbers right now because those people will all most likely live to see another show another time, but the only thing that matters is that a concert went horribly awry, five people are now dead because of it, and unfortunately politics has swept in and begun to politicize the horrific tragedy that our industry is dealing with right now.

This whole situation is really wearing on my heart.  I’m no different than anyone else when it comes to having feelings, but my favorite thing on the planet is this industry, and it hurts to watch it take a black eye like this because of negligent decision making.

Let me just post some great articles to read on this mess, there have been a lot of them.  I’ve written three alone.

Start with THIS one first, it says that Governor Mitch Daniels says that the Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse was a “learning point.”  

Erich Friend’s List of Articles on the Indiana State Fair Collapse

Governor Daniels Says State Fair Collapse ‘Defied Safety Preparations.”

Meteorologists Say Governor Daniels Calling Weather A Fluke ‘Isn’t Right’

Read this BoingBoing article for the commentary at the bottom

AP article by Tom Coyne about Safety and the Collapse

A story from Accuweather about the collapse and “Gustnadoes”

Inspections are NOT Required for Indiana Outdoor Stages (crazy read, holy crap)

Kirk Garreands’ article at ProLightingSpace – MUST The Show Really Go On?

and here are my three articles, please check out these links and learn more about this horrific incident:

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse, Five Dead.  Now What?
Sorry, Governor Daniels, We’re in the Business of Keeping Our Fans Safe – The Indianas State Fair Collapse Continues
Indiana Homeland Security Says Outdoor Stages are Not Structures – More on the Indiana Stage Fair Collapse

From the Facebook Group for Nate Byrd – the folks at NRG Staging pay tribute to a fallen brother: