Jean Charlot’s “Way of the Cross” frescos restored by Art Angel Project artisans

The Art Angel Project’s goal is complete. The East Kaua’i group has led in restoring 47 original works of art housed in three Roman Catholic churches included in the St. Catherine Parish on Kauai’s windward coast.

Kapa’a resident Anne Loquercio is the director, inspiration and driving force behind the Art Angel Project.

Loquercio’s labor of love is aimed at restoring the priceless art found in the churches of the parish. The parish encompasses St. Catherine Church in Kapa’a, St. Sylvester Church in Kilauea and St. William Church in Hanalei.

The latest phase of the ongoing project is the restoration of 14 fresco panels created by renowned muralist Jean Charlot in the mid-1950s.

“The frescos are located at St. Sylvester Church, Kilauea and the panels were completed and donated to the community around 1958,” says Loquercio in a description of the art work. “They are done in a fresco mural painting technique, each panel is two x four foot and are placed high, running as a circle directly together under the roof of a church built in-the-round.”

“The restoration (of the frescos) has been completed,” she said in announcing a showing of replicas of the frescos set for the Kaua’i Museum April 3-September 26.

Loquercio says the fresco technique required the artist to apply earth pigments mixed with water onto a freshly wet plastered wall surface. Previous to that, artist Charlot etched in the main outline of the composition for the frescos at the Kilauea church.

“The lime- plaster had to be mixed in quantities just enough for the section’s work; there was no option for ‘painting over.'”

The 14 vivid frescos portray the last days of “Christ’s earthly journey as described in Scripture and highlight only some of the significant moments,” she says.

Charlot provided “Stations of the Cross” at each of the three churches, using a different media in each church. At St. Catherine Church and at St. William he used two different styles of ceramic tile. Fresco painting lent itself to St. Sylvester, Kilauea.

Artist Charlot lived from 1898- 1979 and was a Parisian by birth with Aztec Indian ancestry.

He and Diego Rivera, the renowned Mexican muralist painter, were largely responsible for the renaissance of the fresco mural medium in the Americas in the first half of the 20th century. After some twenty years in Mexico, Charlot moved to the United States, teaching and lecturing eventually at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa from 1949-1966.

The purpose of the Art Angel Project is to document, restore and provide for the preservation of the original works of devotional art housed in the three churches.

The long-term goal is to provide a means to maintain the art for future generations as a legacy of cultural, spiritual, financial and historical worth. Those over-seeing the work include: Rev. Bruce Lery, S.M. pastor, Loquercio, Paula Chihara and Gloria Nakea. Assisting in the project are photographer /designer Tim Dela Vega of Hanapepe and art conservator Olga Urminska of Kapa’a.

The Art Angel Project began in February, 1999, and aimed to document, restore and preserve the forty-seven original works of art housed in the three churches. The art works were executed and donated to the parish and island communities by master artists of Hawai’i including Charlot, Juliette M. Fraser and Tseng YuHo in 1958 at the invitation of the then Rev. John McDonald, S.M. who was then the pastor at St. Catherine’s.

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