Last week, there was an article in the St Cloud Times about renovations going on at the Catholic church in St Stephen, Mn. They're cleaning and repairing the paintings on the walls. The story said that the town was settled by Slovenians, and a Slovenian artist from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was hired. His name was Gosar, but no one knew his first name...
Does that sound possible? Especially when the decorating was done in 1923, only 90 years ago. This sort of statement is like fireworks for Larry and me. It gets our attention.
From the St Stephen parish history page:
"In 1923 the church interior needed a repainting. For this purpose a church decorator by the name of Gosar, a Slovenian artist from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was hired. The dominant features of his work are the twenty-six paintings done on canvas and glued to the ceiling".
Before long, Larry found a book online called "Buffalo and its German Community" with a section on artists who had settled there, even for awhile. It was published in 1912 in Buffalo, New York. Evidently, he'd moved to Pennsylvania by the 1920s, or someone goofed that fact up too.
We (ok, Larry) found and account of a Slovenian church in Chicago where John Gosar was credited with painting a mural in 1924, so we believe he was the man who also painted the St Stephen church.
Here's the excerpt from "Buffalo and its German Community" translated from the German:
We'll all sleep better tonight, knowing there's one less mystery in the world, right?
More info cuz 24 hours have passed ☺:
Larry kept looking (Yay, Larry!) and found the Slovenian website of the town where the Gosar family lived! It's Duplje, I think. (Laibach is the German name for it, perhaps). Anyway, our John was the son of another artist, Johan, like it says above. (Btw, the Slovenian for John is Janez). Both father and son were church interior painters. Not understanding translated Slovenian very well, we think the father was a wood carver and teacher, too. The son did quite a few churches in Europe before emigrating to the US in 1903.
From the Janez Gosar (the younger) page:
"He painted oil wall and church paintings, both in Gorizia on Placutu painted St. Family on the ceiling of the parish church. The Capuchin church of Gorizia is painted Blessed Didak 1895. In the coastal region of his works can be found not only in Gorizia, but also in the surrounding area. He painted in Števerjanu, Kalu over the Channel Podgora Šempas. In Libušnje in 1894 to the parish church of St. Thomas painted, St. Ann and Francis. In Vipavski Valley in Črniče in the parish church of Sv. Cross in 1895 painted altarpiece of St. Francis of Assisi under the cross at Murillovem original. He was also the image of Jesus' baptism. A subsidiary of St.. Michael in Selo Batuje painted parish patron Saint Michael. The picture is signed and dated 1895th Kobarid is the parish church painted a Pietà, including 1895. Danica Early in 1895, we reported on page 401: "In the two years stay in Gorizia, the artist produced many canonical images and portraits, some of which are as masterful works of art especially noteworthy: Janez Baptist, Francis of Assisi, Joseph dying, bLez Didak, St. Family, Lady of the Sorrows. Pictures kinčajo main altars of churches in Gorizia. It is therefore not strange way the local regret the departure of Mr. Gosar, who these days is permanently moved to Celje "
A couple more paragraphs follow, with more churches he painted, and then this:See the list there, of towns where John Gosar painted? The author obviously had no idea where these places were, but Brockway is the Stearns county township St Stephen is in, and certainly, Eveleth refers to the town in northern Minnesota. Isn't that as COOL as it gets?
Around 1900 he went to America, where he was primarily established as a religious painter of the Slovenian national community. Painted by the many churches: Chicago (St. George Church - where they can be traced to their website: The interior of the church was completely redecorated, with a mural painting done by Slovenian artist, John Gosar, and 1924 ) , Brockway, Steelton, Eveleth, Waukegan, Rathway, Boston, Springville, Buffalo, Wilmette. Painted, in addition to the religious secular buildings: train stations, theaters, hotels (South Bend, Oliver hotel - allegorical representations and personifications - four seasons, the four elements, the seven liberal arts, 1927). As an active painter who came from a home carved tradition has become popular among the Slovenian national community, he was also a member of Kranjska-Slovenian Catholic Union. On the other hand, it is his academic qualifications give the width and the courage that can also be taken away from academic historicism and follow the modern trends in the upcoming modern art, especially in the Art Nouveau. At work he has also helped second wife Rosalie Čečko, home of Vojnika in Celje, which he himself had learned to paint. Of age, he returned to his homeland. We do not know when and where Janez Gosar ml. died, we know only that it has previously sold birthplace.