Shining a Light on Stained Glass Artists
Loeffler, William, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
The name Charles J. Connick may not resonate like that of Andy Warhol or Frank Lloyd Wright.
But Connick, a Pennsylvania native who died in 1945, left a legacy of masterful stained-glass art in churches and academic buildings in Pittsburgh, Butler and Greensburg. Locally, he is probably best known for the 23 windows he created for Heinz Memorial Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh campus in Oakland.
"He was motivated by the love of the glass," says Nick Parrendo, stained-glass artist and owner of Hunt Stained Glass Studio in the West End. "Oh my gosh. He was tremendous; very humble, but very dynamic in his work."
He speaks of the "melody" achieved by Connick's judicious calibration of exactly how much light was allowed to pass through the glass.
Connick may reap some overdue acclaim thanks to a new book and a series of lectures and tours that celebrate his life and work.
"Charles J. Connick: His Education and His Windows in and Near Pittsburgh," was written by Albert M. Tannler, historical collections director at the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. A six-part series of lectures and tours based on the book begins Sunday at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside.
Connick created nearly 70 windows for the church. The keynote address will be delivered by English historian Peter Cormack.
"It's not a one-guy story," Tannler says. "It's the story of an amazing art form that flourished in Pittsburgh."
The Steel City was one of the leading centers for glass artists in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century, Tannler says. Connick designed his stained-glass windows to function as an organic part of the architecture.
"Architectural glass, glass in buildings is not terribly well understood," Tannler says. "Here's a guy who, when he died, the New York Times said he was considered the world's leading craftsman in stained glass. That's pretty strong stuff. …