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Museum receives finger painting of Father Kapaun

Staff writer

It turns out finger-painting isn’t just for kids.

Because of an adult who loves to paint with his fingers and a father who believes in miracles, a new painting hangs in the Father Kapaun Museum in Pilsen.

Performance artist Devin Montagne of Littleton, Colorado recently finger-painted a well-known picture of Father Emil Kapaun administering Mass from the back of a military jeep during the Korean War.

About a year ago, Shawn Gerleman watched as Montagne created the painting during a fund-raising event in Wichita for Casting Nets Ministries. He then purchased it at auction.

Gerleman is the father of Avery Gerleman, who as a teen-ager was struck with a severe auto-immune disease that shut down her organs. She is 23 now and healthy, and the Gerlemans credit her healing with intercession by Father Kapaun. Her story is one of the miracles being held up as a case for Kapaun’s canonization.

Gerleman presented the 3x4-foot painting to the Pilsen museum on March 25 after he told his daughter’s story to tour guides Harriet Bina, Carol Sklenar, and Kelly Krch and a prayer group from Marion of Jackie Palic, Laura Holub, Rose Vinduska, Mary Theresa Griffith, Pam Jones, and Theresa Cady.

Marvin Tajchman of Emporia filmed the presentation.

“We were really touched,” Bina said. “It was Shawn’s way of giving thanks to Father Kapaun for what he did.”

The large painting hangs close to the smaller, original photograph in the Father Kapaun Room.

Gerleman attached this statement to the back: “To the people of Pilsen in honor of a great man, Father Kapaun, and all his good works for the greater glory of God. Thank you, Father Kapaun, and please give glory and praise and thanks to our Lord for all our blessings.” It is signed: Shawn, Melissa, Haley, and Avery.

Montagne has been finger-painting since the early 2000s, performing for parties, brew fests, fundraisers, weddings, and so forth. His portable studio includes a 7x9-foot drop cloth, four cans of acrylic paint, and lights.

Using only fingers and hands, he creates a painting in two to four hours, depending on the size and complexity.

According to his website, Montagne Ministries, he believes the beauty of art isn’t just in the end product but in the creation of it. That’s why his paintings are created live in front of audiences.

“It’s a different experience when you see the painting created,” he said. “Our goal is to share the creative process in watching art come to life.”

Last modified April 19, 2017

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