Celebrating stained glass in the NorthlandThree stained glass windows led to the redemption of three fictional characters in Jack Salmela’s third novel, “Sisterhood of the Hennepin Chalice.” Salmela has been researching stained glass windows ever since.
By: Esther Piszczek, For the Budgeteer News
Three stained glass windows led to the redemption of three fictional characters in Jack Salmela’s third novel, “Sisterhood of the Hennepin Chalice.” Salmela has been researching stained glass windows ever since.
Salmela will present “Celebrating Stained Glass in the Northland” at the Depot on Thursday, September 19. The event is part of the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center’s “Lunch with the History People” series.
Celebrating Stained Glass in the Northland is a one-hour slide presentation Salmela created to summarize information from his three feature-length films exploring stained glass preservation.
The event will take place from noon to 1 p.m. in the Ruth Maney Room. The Depot is located at 506 W. Michigan Street.
After completing “Chalise” in 2011, Salmela was a “novelist wanting to explore something a little more dramatic, with visual sound and elements.” Public Access Community Television (PACT) offered an opportunity to learn filmmaking.
PACT TV provides film equipment, editing software, and professional instruction to members who want to create non-commercial, public access programs for PACT TV.
Salmela began taking classes through PACT TV in 2011 and recently completed his third full length feature film, “Celebrating Stained Glass in the Northland, Part III: Historic Legacies.” The film “is the most comprehensive of the three” and focuses on stained glass windows that were salvaged or preserved.
“Jack is an example of what PACT inspires and encourages in people. He came up with the idea (for stained glass in the Northland) himself and ran with it. He’s learned camera work and editing. He’s an amazing videographer and editor,” commented PACT administrative assistant Liz Minette.
“Without them [PACT], none of these films would have been possible,” said Salmela.
In his newest film, Salmela explores stories of salvaged or preserved stained glass windows in the Northland. He dedicated the film to the late Gale Perry Andresen who “did everything she could do try to save the windows [in The Grand & Lyric Theater] before the wrecking ball destroyed them.”
Andresen’s story is recounted in the film through her sister, Penny Perry, owner of Perry Framing & Stained Glass in Duluth.
“Celebrating Stained Glass in the Northland, Part III: Historic Legacies” aired Thursday, September 12 on PACT cable channel 7 and is planned for future airings. All three full-length videos are available as DVDs for $20 each and may be ordered the day of the presentation or by calling PACT TV at 218-723-3686. Copies are also available on loan from local libraries.
The first episode in the series discusses windows salvaged from the Pilgrim Congregational Church in the late 1800s. The windows depict the history of the Congregationalist movement.
The Pilgrim Congregational Church also has “probably the best collection of Tiffany windows in Duluth,” said Salmela.
The second episode in the series recounts the preservation of windows from the St. Scholastica Monastery. Salmela filmed the two-story grand window on
the east side of the monastery on March 21, 2012, because “that entire perimeter of the window is illuminated only during spring equinox at sunrise.”
“Jack Salmela offers a unique perspective on local stained glass art,” said Mark King, adult-services librarian at Cloquet Public Library. “He has delved into the history of stained glass at a number of churches and other locations around the Twin Ports. Not only does he convey a deep sense of the artistry behind the windows, he has uncovered much of the fascinating symbolism in these works that has been all but forgotten.”
King developed a tour of local stained glass windows last April as part of the Duluth Public Library’s “One Book One Community” program. Salmela gave a slide presentation at Pilgrim Congregational Church at the end of the tour.
A licensed civil engineer, Salmela, age 57, retired after 25 years with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and now works for American Engineering.
Married to JoAnn, with a college-aged daughter, Annelise, he is a native of Duluth.
Salmela grew up loving art, specifically oil painting and sculpture. His father encouraged him to study science. Now, in semi-retirement, he seeks out opportunities to combine his love of art, history, and storytelling to discover and share a part of Northland history with others.
“Art is in my blood .... If I had to do it all over again, I’d choose my own path.”
For more information on the September 19 event, contact Julie Bolos at 218-733-7568.