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St. Paul's Catholic Church, Onaway, Michigan: artists Peter and Christel Brahm

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Artist / Studio

Studio

Pickel (Conrad) Studio
Vero Beach, Florida

Birth Year: 1906

Death Year: 1994



Opening Date:1947

Designers:

     Pickel, Conrad
     Pickel, Paul

Description: Conrad Pickel (Feb. 10, 1906 - Oct. 14, 1994) of Pickel Studio (Milwaukee and Florida) is a stained glass artist who did extensive work in Michigan. Born in Germany, Konrad Pickel began his first known engagement with stained glass at the age of 14 when he became an apprenticeship with the Franz Mayer & Co. (Mayer & Co. of Munich) stained glass firm in Munich in 1920.1 In 1928, just shy of his 22nd birthday, Pickel was listed on a ship manifest as a "glass painter" when he immigrated from Germany to the United States. 2 He went to Pittsburgh where, now going by the name of Conrad Pickel, he lived with an uncle and found work at the Aurora Art Glass Company.3 While working in Pittsburgh Conrad probably met and/or became aware of other stained glass artists working there such as the Rudy Brothers and Charles Connick. At some point, Pickel worked for Connick.4
 
Some records indicate that Pickel worked for the Judson Studio in California but by 1930, the U.S. Census shows Pickel living in Columbus, Ohio, and his occupation listed as "ecclesiastical artist".5 Why Columbus? One hypothesis is that while Pickel worked in Munich he became familiar with the von Gerichten Studio, a stained glass studio based in Columbus, Ohio, that maintained a studio and office in Munich. In Columbus, Pickel shared a room with Ernst Kotzian, who is listed as a glazier and an ecclesiastical artist in Columbus city records. 6

Sometime in the 1930s, Pickel joined forces with Georg Heimer and his son Edward to form Edward Heimer & Company after the Heimers lost their jobs with the von Gerichten Studio when it went bankrupt. The new company finished incomplete contracts that had been held by von Gerichten. During this period Pickel married Joan Friedlmaier, the daughter of glass painter/artist Karl Friedlmaier.7. The Hiemer and Pickel families moved around, depending on where they found business. They are known to have worked in Lowell, Massachusetts, and by 1935 were living in Paterson, New Jersey, where their clients were primarily Catholic churches located from Boston to Washington. Despite the move to an area with more churches, times were tough due to the Depression and the two families even lived together for a period. For a brief time, their company affiliated with the George L. Payne Stained Glass Studio which was also located in Paterson. When the Payne studio went bankrupt, Heimer & Company took over their facilities and hired most of their employees. The years in partnership through times of difficulties, shared German backgrounds, and skills and interests in stained glass work, fostered bonds among the founders of Heimer & Company that they passed down to subsequent generations.

Around 1937, Pickel moved to Milwaukee to join the Gavin Mirror and Art Glass firm where his father-in-law was working. By the early 1940s he was working for the Conrad Schmitt Studio, located in the greater Milwaukee region. A photo from the period shows Pickel, Bernie Gruenke (eventual owner of CS Studio), and two-co-workers -- his long-time friend Ernest Kotzian and Al Timler.8 In 1947 Pickel started his own studio in Milwaukee, first in his home, then in nearby Waukesha, and eventually in New Berlin. Among his employees was Al Timler from Conrad Schmitt Studio. 9 In 1956 Pickel also opened another studio, this time in Florida, at first maintaining studios in both states but he eventually moved his family to Florida and closed the Wisconsin studio.10

Paul Pickel, Conrad's son and a past president of the Stained Glass Association of America, now runs the Conrad Pickel Studios in Vero Beach, Florida. In 2014, a selection of his father's work was featured in an exhibition in Boynton Beach, Florida. In a newspaper article at the time, Paul was quoted saying the following about his father, [He was] a very prolific artist who started his designs and sketches in the wee hours of the morning."He'd wake up at 4 in the morning and start thinking about what he was going to do that day...He designed and designed and his imagination just kept going." Pickel said a lot of his father's ideas were "out of the box and as a businessman, and he 'pooh-poohed' some of this father's ideas because of the cost the materials involved. But his father never listened. Paul described his father's color preferences saying that he use "a certain range of blues, a soft cobalt blue, a little bit of gray, a little bit of purple, not hot" and remembers his father saying, "Use more black, use more black. He liked to use black to make the windows stronger." 11 When asked what he remembers most about his father, Paul said "his enthusiasm, his enthusiasm for art, his enthusiasm for life." 12 Conrad Pickel, himself, said of artists, "People don't know how beautiful the world is. They have to learn about it. It's up to the artist to bring something very important to life. Otherwise, it's just an existence." 13

Pickel Studio has work in at least 40 states as well as Canada. In Michigan the firm has been involved with over 40 churches, designing leaded windows for at least 11 churches, and faceted windows for at least 22. The studio also designs large and small mosaics as well as niche fronts of faceted glass for columbarium's and cemeteries.14
In addition to his work in glass, Conrad Pickel was also a sculptor and painter..a truly sincere and genuine artist, through and through!!15


Conrad Pickel work in the Michigan Stained Glass Census (MSGC)
Several buildings with work by Pickel are registered in the MSGC and a list of those windows, along with more historical information about Pickel can be found at Betty MacDowell, “Michigan Windows by the Conrad Pickel Studio,” Michigan Windows of the Month, 2007.
 
Images of selected work by Conrad Pickel available online
 
St/ Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, East Lansing, MI;
http://marvins-gardens.blogspot.com/2014/04/st-thomas-aquinas-catholic-church.html
http://elcatholics.org/the-grande-window
 
Faceted (4 walls) of a mausoleum in mid Illinois.
https://achicagosojourn.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/resurrection-mausoleum/
 
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Milwaukee (scroll down to see the links for the over 50 windows)
http://www.oslcmilw.org/StainedGlassWindows/tabid/1104/AlbumID/3043-414/Default.aspx
 
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota - http://content.clic.edu/cdm/search/collection/stain-gls
 
Minneapolis, Minnesota….Thrivent Insurance.  (1956) (click on image to make it larger)
http://skywayoflove.blogspot.com/2010/06/thrivent-stained-glass-for-lutherans.html
 
 
Sources:
 
Ancestry.com for U.S. Census.
Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh
Gerry Hiemer via email 
Paul Pickel via email
Judi (Hiemer) Van Wie via email 
Robert O. Jones, Biographical Index of Historic Stained Glass Artists of America. Raytown, MO: Stained Glass Association of America, 2002.
 
 


1  The Von Gerichten Studio (also Von Gerichten Art Glass Studio), a stained glass firm based in Columbus, Ohio, also had an office and studio in Munich which was opened in 1914. Even though the Von Gerichten brothers who founded the business were born in Germany, their American studio received requests from customers for “German workmanship” in their stained glass. After previous locations in Alabama and Cincinnati, Ludwig von Gerichten settled in Columbus by 1895/1896 as listed in the Columbus City Directory. For more information see “Von Gerichten Art Glass Company,” Wikipedia. Accessed June 7, 2016. http://www.rpwrhs.org/w/index.php?title=Von_Gerichten_Art_Glass_Company.
 
2 According to the passenger list for the SS Albert Baillie sailing from Hamburg, Germany to New York on January 13, 1928.  SOURCE OF DATA? 
 
3 Conrad and XXXX were listed with the same address in the 1928 Polk’s Pittsburgh City Directory (R. L. Polk & Co.),. The Aurora Art Glass Company was sold in 1949 to the Hunt Stained Glass, but long after Conrad had left Pittsburgh.  SOURCE OF DATA?
 
4
 
5 U.S. Census, 1930.
 
6 “Ernst Kotzian - Born in Munich Germany 20 May 1908; Died 11 July 1965 in the Dorchester, Massachusetts; Arrival to the USA on SS New York 15 April 1929 (boarded in Hamburg); naturalized 18 Jun 1945 in Massachusetts; attended Boston University as mentioned in 1951 year book; married stained glass artist/painter Kathleen McDonald in 26 Dec 1948; Was in 1930 census rooming with Pickel in Columbus…probably working at von Gerichten.
http://person.ancestry.com/tree/12698603/person/-201079788/facts. The Columbus, Ohio, 1924 directory, and later in the 1926 Columbus City Directory, as an ecclesiastical artist.  
 
7  Edward Hiemer (1900-1969) had worked for von Gerichten in the German office, but came to the U.S. in 1925.  Georg Hiemer (1866-1955) also worked at von Gerichten in Munich, but came to Columbus to be with his son after von Gerichten went bankrupt. when the company went bankrupt. Karl Friedlmaier (1888-1957) came from Germany in 1923. 
 
8 Photograph posted on Conrad Schmitt Studios Facebook page. May 13, 2015.  Accessed June 7, 2016. https://www.facebook.com/257049024415505/photos/a.258398524280555.62242.257049024415505/753717351415334/?type=1&theater
 
9 Timler eventually went on to work for Holman’s City Glass Studio in Fort Wayne, Indiana and has some signed windows at St. Lorenz Church in Frankenmuth, Michigan.
 
10 According to his son Paul who now owns and operates the studio, a potential job in Florida brought Conrad there in the middle 1950’s, and after some consideration, he decided to move his family to Florida and have a studio there, and then he eventually closed the studio in greater Milwaukee. 
 
11 Lazarony, Lucy. “Pickel’s art defined by his boundless imagination and enthusiasm,” The Coastal News, Posted by Mary Kate Leming.  June 3, 2014. Accessed June 7, 2016.
http://thecoastalstar.ning.com/profiles/blogs/arts-pickel-s-art-defined-by-his-boundless-imagination-and-enthus
 
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
15  Lazarony, Lucy. “Pickel’s art defined by his boundless imagination and enthusiasm,” The Coastal News, Posted by Mary Kate Leming. June 3, 2014. Accessed June 7, 2016.
http://thecoastalstar.ning.com/profiles/blogs/arts-pickel-s-art-defined-by-his-boundless-imagination-and-enthus


I am the living water
Building Name and City: Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock
I am the light of the world
Building Name and City: Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock
I am the bread of life
Building Name and City: Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock
I am the vine
Window Name: I am the vine
Building Name and City: Michigan Memorial Park, Flat Rock
George, the Soldier Saint
Building Name and City: St. George Orthodox Church, Flint
The Last Supper
Window Name: The Last Supper
Building Name and City: St. Mary's Church, Westphalia
St. Gabinius, St. Suzanne and St. Caius
Building Name and City: St. Suzanne Catholic Church, Detroit
Moses Striking the Rock
Building Name and City: St. Mary's Church, Westphalia
New Lady of Westphalia
Building Name and City: St. Mary's Church, Westphalia
The Last Supper
Window Name: The Last Supper
Building Name and City: St. Mary's Church, Westphalia
Baptism
Window Name: Baptism
Resurrection
Window Name: Resurrection
Angel with a Horn
Window Name: Angel with a Horn
Building Name and City: St. George Orthodox Church, Flint
The Ascension
Window Name: The Ascension
Crucifixion
Window Name: Crucifixion
Suffer the Children to Come Unto Me
St. Matthew & St. Mark
Ten Commandments and Bible
The Resurrection
Window Name: The Resurrection
Good Friday
Window Name: Good Friday
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Baptism
Window Name: Baptism
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Easter
Window Name: Easter
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Pentecost
Window Name: Pentecost
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Holy Communion
Window Name: Holy Communion
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Christian Education
Window Name: Christian Education
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
The Great Commission
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Trinity
Window Name: Trinity
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Word of God
Window Name: Word of God
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Advent
Window Name: Advent
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Christmas and Epiphany
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Lent
Window Name: Lent
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Heaven
Window Name: Heaven
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Worship
Window Name: Worship
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
The Church
Window Name: The Church
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Christ Triumphant
Window Name: Christ Triumphant
Building Name and City: Peace Lutheran Church, Saginaw
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Seasons overlaid with Christian Symbols