Vineyard Church

I was intrigued by the name of the Vineyard churches and couldn’t resist putting an iconic country church in the center of a vineyard. With three grape growing areas in Arizona, the Wilcox, Sonora and Verde Valley, a church may soon find home in a vineyard!

Mission Concepcion

Mission Concepcion

“Mission Concepcion” was started in the early 1700’s and finished in 1755 in San Antonio, Texas.  Now it is part of a National Heritage Site and shares the space with three other mission churches. Its purpose was to convert the local people to Catholicism. Today, the building is a good example of Spanish Colonial cruciform (cross-shaped) architecture.  Originally, the outside and inside were covered with  geometric Moorish designs.  Now only a few frescos remain on the inside.  San Concepcion is the oldest unrestored stone church in America.  The reason it survived?  It was built on bedrock.

The Alamo

The Alamo

Remember the Alamo!

How many people know the story of the Alamo?  I didn’t  until I painted it and looked up its history. It was a Mission Church for less time than it was an Army fort and garrison.

Its history starts when an existing Spanish mission was moved to the San Antonio area in 1718 and to its present location in 1724; the foundation was laid in 1744. The Mission was designed to teach indigenous people how to farm, do blacksmithing, carpentry, weaving and all the tasks necessary for a Spanish village.

Times changed.  By 1793 the Mission was secularized and turned over to local control.  A year later, both the French and the Americans coveted the area.  The Spanish military moved back in and turned the second story into the first hospital in Texas. The Texans took control in 1835 as more Americans  moved in to the area.   Santa Ana and his men arrived in 1836 to retake the former mission and establish control.  The battle of the Alamo lasted 90 minutes.  Women and children were spared; 200 America soldiers died, among them Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie.

But the tide had turned.  The United States dominated Texas and the military retook the Alamo.  When a plan came out to demolish the Alamo to build a warehouse, the military decided to repair the Alamo instead.  They filled in arches, added windows and a pitched roof.  It was the first roof for the building. To disguise the roof, a prominent architect designed the  distinguished curved top.

But don’t just take my word for it. . .Visit it yourself the next time you are in San Antonio.  A group of dedicated volunteers can tell you the whole story. ..




Scottdale’s Lady of Perpetual Help

Hispanics who moved to Scottsdale to work the cotton fields in the early 1900’s,  built the first Catholic church in the area.  They chose a Spanish Colonial Revival design with a curvilinear parapet wall  above the roof-line and a bell tower.  The  thousands of the 50-pound adobe bricks needed for the outside walls were made by parish members after a day in the field.  Each family made their own pew. The first Mass was held in 1933.

As the congregation grew, it moved to a new church building in 1956, at Miller and Main streets. Soon, the Scottsdale Symphony found the empty building was ideal  for practice and stayed there for 26 years until the building underwent restoration in 2011.

Now, restored, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

P.S.  Don’t look for a pink church at Brown Ave and 1st in Scottsdale; it is actually a pristine white.

Mission San Francisco De La Espada

Mission San Francisco De La Espada

Mission San Francisco de la Espada, established in 1690, is the oldest of the east Texas missions. The Mission was moved several times, coming to rest in San Antonio in 1731. Frequent Apache and Comanche raids caused the Mission to be heavily fortified. James Bowie and James W. Fannin and 100 Texan recruits troops fought off two hundred  Mexicans during the Texas Revolution of 1835.

The church I painted was begun in 1745 and completed 11 years later.  In 1794 it was partially secularized and abandoned  by 1824.

Hope came when a young French priest,  Francois Bouchu, was sent to Espada in 1858.  Finding the church  in ruins,  Bouchu rebuilt the walls, roof and made the furniture. He is credited with saving the Mission.



I am not a fan of missionaries who come into a functioning community and tell the people that their religion is wrong. However,  Father Kino is one of my  heroes. In addition to a new religion, this Jesuit priest brought new seeds, fruits, grains and cattle, a new language and architecture to the native people. (Did they need them? No comment.) He did not believe in enslaving people and with their help, he established 24 missions in Mexico and southern Arizona in 24 years.  He died in 1711. Tumacacori Mission, just south of Tucson, Az., was established in 1691. Did he do  good? I can’t judge.  But I think he did less damage than some of the other missionaries.  Also, the Indians did benefit from the new foods.

The Jesuit order didn’t last in Arizona and the mission at Tumacacori was overshadowed by the  successful mission at San Xavier del Bac outside Tucson.  However,  when the Jesuits left,  the Franciscans took over Tumacacori and the construction of the current  church was begun in 1799. There was not enough money to complete the church as originally planned but  a Spanish and Indian crew were able to start the 5′ thick walls  which they brought up to 7′. The two planned bell towers were reduced to one and a flat roof covered the nave. The sanctuary dome was completed.  The walls were raised to 14′ high after 1821.

Life didn’t get better for the mission. There were revolts, epidemics, expulsions and an influx of outsiders.   The last priest left in 1828; local parishioners kept the mission going until Apache attacks forced them to evacuate.

In 1848, the Mexican-American war added more stress: interrupted supply routes, Apache raids,  then, a severe winter. The adobe church fell into ruin. An earthquake in 1887 didn’t help.

Luckily,   60 years later  Tumacacori  was saved when President Theodore Roosevelt declared the site National Monument and preservation began.

But some preservation is almost worse than no preservation. Early efforts had to be redone later as the science of renovation advanced.

In 1990 Tumacacori became a National Historic Park and now covers 360 acres. It includes a riparian area and mesquite bosque along the Santa Cruz River.  Interested in birds. . .you can find 200 plus species there plus a good assortment of mammals and plants.


Blue Mission

Blue Mission

Blue Mission is my impression of Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguaro.  The Mission,  in San Antonio, Texas,  fascinates me.  Built in 1720 by the Franciscans, it wasn’t just a church.  Missions were Spanish towns with the church as their focus and were built where there was enough water to support the population.  The goal was to turn indigenous people into Spanish citizens.  Now, Mission San Jose is part of the San Antonio Missions Historical Park, where the first mission goes back to 1718.  San Jose is called the ‘Queen of Missions’.

Padre's Legacy

Padre’s Legacy

Padres’ Legacy is one of 25 paintings  selected from 327 that hung in the second floor of the Arizona House of  Representatives for Arizona’s Centennial year, 2012.  It is also featured in the American Art Collector 2011-2012 book, page 143.  The painting is a reminder of the hundreds of abandoned churches, stores, and homes that were once part of the hopes and dreams  of the early settlers.

Three Crosses

Three Crosses

Three crosses.  My cousin Pam and I visited Santa Fe and Taos about ten years ago.  We found Georgia O’Keefe’s compound and then strayed on a back road that at once became lonely and eerie, even in the daylight.  With nothing around it, no signs, no cars and not much of a road, we came to this obviously religious dwelling. We guessed it was the moradas of a Penitent group. . .and all the suffering they inflicted on themselves seemed to hang in the atmosphere.