by Cori Hilsgen
The pastor of the Church of St. Joseph, the Rev. Jerome Tupa, is also a world-renowned artist.
The St. Benedict’s Monastery Whitby Gallery is now exhibiting Tupa’s paintings for its spring gallery show. The exhibit is entitled “Paintings by Jerome Tupa, OSB.”
Sister Ione Jesh, manager of Whitby, said their gallery committee chose to exhibit Tupa’s paintings because they thought they would make for a nice spring show, since they are so colorful.
They also chose to exhibit his paintings because he is internationally famous and a next-door neighbor.
An opening reception for Tupa was held May 7 at the gallery. During the event, attended by more than 100 people, he spoke about his style of painting and why he does the work he does.
According to askart.com, Tupa had an early interest in art but did not really start painting until the 1970s when he was working on his doctorate in French literature at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and he began painting then due to the isolation brought on by his studies.
Tupa approaches each painting he does with a sense of wonder and adventure. He describes his style as Fauvist and Matisse-like, characterized by vigorous freedom, quick brushwork and heightened use of color.
Tupa uses vivid colors to express joy and gold to reflect the icons of the Middle Ages, when that color represented heaven.
For Tupa, a piece of art should offer something unexpected, otherwise it’s lacking in strength. A painting should stop a person and speak to that person.
Tupa’s works have won international acclaim in galleries in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Some of his published work of his pilgrimages includes An Uncommon Mission (about 21 missions in California), Painting the Pilgrimage: From Paris to Compostela, The Road to Rome – A Modern Pilgrimage (journeying from Milan to Rome) and more.
Tupa said visitors to the Whitby Gallery should see his pieces in the context of at least 20 to 40 pieces in each series.
“So the representation of my art at the Whitby is what we call tip of the iceberg,” Tupa said. “Many of the pieces have been shown in museums, such as the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization building in Paris, Naples Museum of Art and museums in California, Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C. There is also an exhibit now in Minneapolis and Collegeville.”
Tupa is also in the process of preparing an exhibit for this fall at the Doug Flanders Art Gallery in Minneapolis.
Jesh said Tupa was very gracious about accepting the committee’s offer to exhibit his paintings. The committee picked out what they wanted to display, and Tupa also brought more items.
Several members of the gallery committee (Dede Leither, Judi Grooters and Anne Meyer-Jarrel) have been instrumental in helping seek out artists.
The committee incorporates a lot of people from the area and beyond. Artists they have featured include many from the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis. Located in the northeast arts district, the building is a creative center for more than 190 artists.
“They’ve exposed the area to very fine art,” Jesh said.
Some of Tupa’s exhibited pieces are priced as follows. Cannes Series-Kite and Sun for $4,500; Church of St. George-Aleppo, Syria for $7,000; Courtyard of Damascus Mosque-Syria for $24,000; Portal and Church of the Kings-Toledo, Spain for $24,000 and more.
Tupa’s exhibit is scheduled to be at the gallery until the end of June, but Tesh said she thought they would probably keep it up longer.
Tupa was born in North Dakota and became a Benedictine monk at St. John’s Abbey.
The St. Benedict’s Monastery Whitby Gift Shop and Gallery highlights creative works of various media from artists in the regional area and more. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1-3:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 320-363-7113 or 320-363-7100.