By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — St. Anthony Parish secretary Tina Wagshal saw a holiday display challenge for downtown Davenport. At a parish staff meeting, she suggested the parish enter the challenge. She enlisted Kay Steele, coordinator of religious education, to turn the parish center’s windows that face Main Street into the real reason for the season — the birth of Christ.
Steele, who loves to paint, said she was a little hesitant. After Wagshal verified the parish could enter the challenge, Steele agreed to undertake the project as long as Wagshal helped. The two strategized how to decorate the four windows. Steele’s idea was to put the Holy Family in the center window and fill in the rest with other art.
Although Steele loves to paint, she didn’t know what paint she could use on the parish windows that would be removable and not cause any damage. Wagshal contacted some other artists who help decorate windows in the downtown area and learned acrylic paints were preferred. Problem solved.
Then, looking online, Steele came up with an idea for each window. Her next challenge was deciding whether to paint the interior or exterior windows. Interior windows would require painting the image backwards so it would look correct from the outside. Painting from the outside meant exposing the images to the elements. She chose to paint inside.
Steele sketched each window and then both of the women painted. One window has a cow and donkey — part of the stable idea, she noted. The next window is of the Holy Family. The third one is of an older and younger shepherd. “Maybe a father and son,” she noted. The final window is the three wise men in the distance. That window painting was a disappointment for her overall because from the street it is harder to see the wise men. “But my favorite are the sheep,” she laughed.
She estimated the project would take one-and-half weeks to complete, but it took fewer than three full days. She had help from high school students who happened to be in the parish center to help do the stars.
The parish hall lights remain on at night on the street side of the building to illuminate the windows.
“It was a fun project to do,” Steele said. She looks forward to doing the project again next year if there is interest. She noted that people have asked whether she would consider painting the windows for other liturgical seasons.