Tim Jaeger Goes To Church

Todays News

Pictured: Tim Jaeger (left) will be working with several master glassmakers to complete the Berkeley commission.

Tim Jaeger has seen his paintings hang in homes and restaurants across Sarasota, seen it displayed in galleries and printed on t-shirts and towels. He’s co-founded a thriving artist collective and curated exhibitions all over town. But the artist’s latest project is pushing him far into the unknown, working with a medium he’s never tried before and a subject matter nearly as delicate. “I really like the things that I don’t know,” Jaeger says. “It’s an opportunity to create something bigger than yourself.”

In this case, “bigger than yourself” means designing and painting 41 windows for a new chapel being constructed on the Berkeley Preparatory School campus in Tampa—and collaborating with regional glass artists to give the classic stained glass approach an upgrade.

“Traditional stained glass is more like a mosaic,” Jaeger says, with each window comprising multiple panes of colored glass joined together with soldered lead. “And the leaded lines really interfere with the image itself,” he says. To change the aesthetic, Jaeger suggested changing the method. Instead of stained glass, the chapel should be one of, if not the, first in Florida to use fused glass in all its windows.

Working with master glassmaker James Piercey of Orlando and the master glassmakers of Kat Glass Studio in Clearwater, Jaeger mocked up a small example of a scene depicting St. Francis and presented his idea to the school.

Though a complicated process, each window will begin with a line drawing from Jaeger. Once completed, this drawing is enlarged and placed under a transparent pane of glass, so he can paint it large-scale in black-and-white onto the glass. “So it’s still coming from my hand,” he says. “I will literally be painting within each pane of glass.” But the color actually comes from multiple panes of colored glass, layered on top of and then fused together with Jaeger’s painting. Like overlapping transparencies on an overhead projector or layering colored lenses on a camera, the result is one seamless image.

And, according to Jaeger, the fused glass method enables nuances of color not to be found within the leaded confines of stained glass construction. “You can create all sorts of unique colorations,” he says. “It really gives the image a great sense of depth.”

Looking at St. Francis through Jaeger-tinted eyes, the Berkeley Preparatory School agreed. Then came the kicker: did anyone mention the new chapel will have 41 windows?

Of all the factors involved, only the time commitment gave Jaeger pause. “It’s not a one-and-done type of thing,” he says. “We’re not talking about hanging a painting.” Instead, the artist will be making trips to Orlando twice-monthly for the next two years, working the weekends to craft all 41 windows, some of them 20-feet-wide or more. But the opportunity to was too good to pass up, professionally or personally.

“Designing church windows has historically been a pinnacle of sorts in an artist’s career,” he says. And as the son of an Episcopalian priest, each painting holds a personal importance as well. “It’s an amazing opportunity to create something in his honor, as a testament to his life and work.”

Pictured: Tim Jaeger (left) will be working with several master glassmakers to complete the Berkeley commission.

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