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Featured Window

Window of the Month
Artist: David Wilson - St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Hartland, Michigan

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Featured Windows, November 2007

Michigan Windows by the Conrad Pickel Studio

Buildings:

St. George Orthodox Church - Flint, Michigan

St. Suzanne Catholic Church - Detroit, Michigan

St. Mary's Church - Westphalia, Michigan

Emanuel First Evangelical Lutheran Church - Lansing, Michigan

St. Luke Lutheran Church - Clinton Township, Michigan

St. Gabinius, St. Suzanne and St. Caius

St. Gabinius, St. Suzanne and St. Caius. St. Suzanne/Our Lady Gate of Heaven Catholic Church, Detroit, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha, WI, 1962. MSGC 01.0009. Photo by Glenn Forter. The martyred third-century St. Suzanne, with her father Gabinius and her uncle Pope Caius (or Gaius), is depicted in one of Conrad Pickel's earliest windows created for a Michigan church. The sword symbolizes her martyrdom by beheading, ordered by Emperor Diocletian for her refusal to renounce her vows to virginity and Christianity. Her father was imprisoned and may have suffered the same fate. Pope Caius died in 296, possibly in the catacombs where he is said to have spent the last years of his life.

Many well-known stained glass studios have created windows for Michigan's houses of worship and other buildings. Some of their Michigan work has already been shown when those buildings were featured on our website. The featured windows for this month and occasional future months will highlight more of the work done by these studios. This month we are showing just a few of the many windows created by the Conrad Pickel Studio for Michigan buildings. In the months ahead we will focus on the work of other studios for Michigan locations.

Left: Moses Striking the Rock. St. Mary Catholic Church, Westphalia, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha, WI, ca. 1962. MSGC 93.0016. Photo by Barbara Krueger. Moses, while leading the Israelites out of Egypt, followed God's instructions to provide water for his people by striking his rod against a rock, as the elders of Israel watched. When he did so, water poured out to quench the people's thirst (Book of Exodus 17: 1-6). Right: New Lady of Westphalia. St. Mary Catholic Church, Westphalia, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha, WI, 1962. MSGC 93.0016. Photo by Barbara Krueger. This large window depicting St. Mary also symbolizes the rebirth of the church, which had been destroyed by fire in 1959. In the lower portion, images of the tractor, factory and shield represent the people of Westphalia as workers and Americans; an image of the new church symbolizes their faith.

Left: The Ascension. Emanuel First Lutheran Church, Lansing, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha, WI, 1964. MSGC 92.0009. Photo by Ken Black. Jesus ascends into heaven while his mother and disciples watch, as related in the Book of Luke 24:51. Right: The Last Supper. St. Mary Catholic Church, Westphalia, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha WI, ca. 1962. MSGC 93.0016. Photo by Barbara Krueger. The last meal of Jesus with his disciples, recorded in the Book of Luke, is seen from an unusual viewpoint. The betrayer Judas is shown with his hand on the table, as related in Luke 22:21.

The Conrad Pickel Studio was founded in 1947 in Milwaukee, WI, by sculptor, painter and stained glass artist Conrad Pickel (1906-1994). Born in Germany, Pickel grew up in Munich, where he studied at the Art Academy and learned the art of stained glass as a young apprentice in the Franz Mayer Studio. He came to the United States in 1927. During the next twenty years Pickel worked for various studios: Von Gerichten Studio in Columbus, Ohio; Judson Studios in Los Angeles; Connick Studio in Boston; and Conrad Schmitt Studio in Milwaukee. The 1930s included a brief studio partnership with Edward Hiemer and Edward's father George. The same period also saw Pickel's marriage to Joan Friedlemaier, daughter of his co-worker Karl Friedlemaier, a glass-painter. Their marriage produced two children, Emma and Paul.

Pickel's studio, located at first in his Milwaukee home, was soon moved to larger quarters in nearby Waukesha and eventually into a three-floor building he built at New Berlin, WI, for his rapidly growing business. In 1956 he opened a branch studio at Vero Beach, FL, to which the entire studio operation relocated in 1977. The Pickels also moved to Florida, where they built a home, first at Pompano and then at Boynton Beach. Conrad's son Paul Pickel, a past president of the Stained Glass Association of America, now oversees the Pickel Studio at Vero Beach. A West Coast branch office of the studio was opened in San Diego, CA in 2000.

Left: Baptism. St. Luke Lutheran Church, Clinton Twp., MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha, WI, 1968. MSGC 93.0152. Photo by John Shotts. Right: Resurrection. St. Luke Lutheran Church, Clinton Twp., MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, Waukesha, WI, 1968. MSGC 93.0152. Photo by John Shotts. These two non-figural windows are filled with images that symbolize the baptism and resurrection of Jesus.

Left: George, the Soldier Saint. St. George Orthodox Church, Flint, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, New Berlin, WI, ca. 1971. MSGC 97.0138. Photo by Charles Lowell. The legend of St. George suggests that he may have been a third or fourth century soldier who was executed for his Christian faith by the emperor Diocletian. He is frequently depicted slaying a dragon that represents evil. Right: Angel with Horn. St. George Orthodox Church, Flint, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, New Berlin, WI, ca. 1971. MSGC 97.0138. Photo by Charles Lowell.

In addition to stained glass, the Conrad Pickel Studio has created faceted glass, etched glass, mosaics and sculpture of wood, bronze and stone. Much of its work has been made for cemeteries. Among Conrad Pickel's last completed works are faceted glass windows he designed for the Michigan Memorial Park Mausoleum at Flat Rock, MI. These were fabricated in 1991 by the Vero Beach studio. The other windows shown here were created earlier at the Waukesha or New Berlin studios. All are marked by Conrad Pickel's use of bold design, strong color and rich symbolism.

Pickel Studio Signature. St. George Orthodox Church, Flint, MI. Conrad Pickel Studio, New Berlin, WI, ca. 1971. Photo by Charles Lowell.


Bibliography: Show Bibliography

(MSGC 1992.0009, 1997.0138, 2001.0009, 1993.0016, 1993.0152, 1997.0138)

Text by Betty MacDowell, Michigan Stained Glass Census, November , 2007.