By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Art Legacy League’s mission is to preserve the legacy and art of the late Father Edward Catich, and to help with these efforts members are hosting a fundraiser June 1 at Jumer’s Casino and Hotel in Rock Island, Ill. The fundraiser will feature dinner and a speech by New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry.
Tickets are $50 per person for dinner and the presentation, or $80 per person for a meet-and-greet with Berry and an autographed copy of his new release, “The Lincoln Myth,” in addition to dinner and presentation. Berry’s books will be available for purchase, and an autograph session is available to anyone attending. A silent auction also will be held. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the dinner and talk begin at 6:15 p.m.
Fr. Catich founded the St. Ambrose College (Davenport) Art Department, and was a well-known stonecutter, calligrapher, photographer, author and historian. He taught art at the Davenport Municipal Art Gallery and offered calligraphy workshops all across the country during his lifetime. He is also responsible for creating Encyclopedia Brittanica’s corporate symbol, and is still considered the leading authority of Imperial Roman letter. He passed away in 1979.
Despite his accomplishments, board member Katie Kiley said people today are generally unaware of them, and may not know who Fr. Catich is to begin with. “(He) is to art as Bix Beiderbecke is to music in this area, but so few people realize this.”
Art Legacy League Chairman Paul Herrera said the league has several ongoing and upcoming projects that need funding, particularly the proper preservation of Fr. Catich’s paper works. He added that interest in Fr. Catich’s work is growing, and the Art Legacy League needs funds to mat and frame works for exhibitions around the country. Additionally, the Art Legacy League would like to continue offering calligraphy and handwriting courses and seminars.
Herrera said a “dream goal” would be to open a Catich Museum and Studio to display his work and conduct classes “in the Father Catich tradition which spawned generations of artists in various disciplines.”
Berry, a historical thriller novelist with more than 17 million books in print worldwide, shares the Art Legacy League’s passion for preserving history. He and wife Elizabeth run the History Matters Foundation, which is funding his trip to the Quad-Cities, Herrera said. “Steve and his wife, Elizabeth, thought Father’s work was worth preserving,” Herrera said. “He’s not charging us a fee. He’s like a miracle for what we are trying to do.”
All of the board members of the Art Legacy League studied with Fr. Catich, and Herrera said they are inspired to grow his legacy because of the impact he had on their art and their lives. “By just teaching his art, Father was able to spark our creativity, and what we learned from Father was able to take us in many different directions, and we’ve all been successful.”
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