“A Painter’s Gospel”: An Icon Exhibit in Hartford

HNP Communications Friar News

HARTFORD, Conn. — World-renowned iconographer Robert Lentz, OFM, presented a retreat at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church on All Souls Day, in a well attended program that offered an in depth exploration into the beauty and meaning of icons.

The Nov. 2 “Twilight Retreat: The Spirituality of Iconography,” held from 5 to 7:30 p.m., kicked off a two-month exhibit of Robert’s icons, “A Painter’s Gospel,” in the Clare Gallery. After the presentation, which was attended by approximately 50 persons, the parish offered a Mass of Remembrance to continue the evening of remembrance and celebration, according to staff member Pat Curtis.

Robert, who lives at Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., where he paints, writes and teaches apprentices, discussed the spirituality of iconography, including its history, meaning and execution.

Many of his icons, on display through Dec. 29, reflect Robert’s experiences with the poor, as well as his Franciscan and Russian roots. He is perhaps best known for his innovative icons that use bright colors to give a modern depiction to an age-old art form. While remaining true to the style of the Byzantine Rite artwork, he also depicts contemporary subjects. His icons have been called “transcendent expressions of the ancient Christian tradition and they invite us into communion with God and the saints,” according to the church’s poster promoting the exhibit.

Born in Colorado, the grandson of Russian immigrants, Robert studied Byzantine iconography by being an apprentice to a master painter at the school of Photios Kontoglou in a Greek Orthodox monastery at Mount Athos, Greece. In addition to painting, he also writes and speaks on topics that promote Muslim and Christian dialogue and conducts workshops on art and spirituality throughout the United States.

Robert professed his final vows as a Franciscan in summer 2010. In addition to icons on display at the gallery, Robert’s artwork can be found on the Trinity Religious Artwork and Icons website.

The Clare Gallery, housed in the Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry, is open Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Information about the exhibit is available from Catherine Wynn, director of publicity for the gallery.

— Wendy Healy, a freelance writer based in Connecticut, is the author of the recently published Life Is Too Short: Stories of Transformation and Renewal After 9/11.