Byline: Deborah Kadin Daily Herald Staff Writer
With airwaves filled with advertisements of sales and the latest toys, the reason for celebrating Christmas sometimes gets lost.
Jeff Mishur and his wife Michelle Paluch-Mishur hope to recapture the spirit of the season by explaining it in an easy, visually pleasing way.
The Roselle couple, both art historians, have developed a program called "The Christmas Canvas," a depiction through slides of famous paintings that describe the events surrounding Jesus' birth, from the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary to the Flight to Egypt.
Many of the works in the program were painted during the Renaissance and the Baroque eras and came from the brushes of some of the world's greatest painters - Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Jan Van Eyck and Marc Chagall.
In their presentation, the Mishurs, who own Art Excursions, a tour and lecture business, explain the story of a painting and the meaning behind the religious images depicted in the work.
For the audience, the program is a reintroduction to the stories of the Old and New Testament. People also learn about symbolism in paintings and why symbolism is important.
"This is continuing education without exams," Paluch-Mishur said. "We try to make the program enjoyable and easy to digest."
Mishur hopes the program will give people a greater understanding and knowledge of the stories of the season.
"It's hard for people to remember the story because they are hammered with redundant commercial images," Mishur said. "We want to bring people back in touch with what the holiday season means."
"The Christmas Canvas" is one of the couple's three lecture/slide presentations that contain religious works of art. "The Art of the Easter Season" contains paintings from the Passion through the Resurrection.
Another, "Gathered Around the Table," encompasses scenes of feasts and gatherings depicted in religious and secular works. The Last Supper and the Supper at Emmaus are among the religious scenes discussed during the program.
The couple developed "The Christmas Canvas" about two years ago because students they taught in art history classes at Lewis University were unaware of the Bible stories depicted in the religious paintings they talked about in class. …