The Business News
November 2004 | Volume 11 | Number 4
Artist’s Painting Finds Way to The Pope
By Kimber Bilby
TRAVERSE CITY – You never know when divine inspiration will strike. For artist Casey Truelove, it happened one evening while praying at church and led to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While praying at St. Mary’s Parish in Lake Leelanau two years ago, Truelove was struck by a beam of light shining down on a statue of Christ’s Crucifixion.
God just threw inspiration at me,” said the 25-year-old graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids and a Traverse City native. Within five months, Truelove put the finishing touches on his painting. “Crucifixion,” a rendition of what he saw that evening at church. About the same time, Casey was getting ready to attend World Youth Day in Toronto, an event started by and attended by Pope John Paul II. As a token of his appreciation, Truelove wanted to present the Pope with a framed print of his work.
Enter Wooden Gallery on Front Street in Traverse City. Owner Mike Desforges is one of Casey’s biggest fans. They met years ago when Casey was a student at St. Francis and would wander through the gallery, admiring Desforges’ work. “I’ve always enjoyed Mike’s style,” the young artist said. “It’s very distinctive; you can always tell a Wooden Gallery piece.” What makes Desforges’ work distinctive is what he doesn’t use—-glass. Instead of a traditional framed print with glass overlay, Desforges’ presents the artwork alone, centered on a beautifully-crafted wood frame.
As one of Casey’s biggest supporters, Desforges covered the costs of the print to be given to the Pope. But a miscommunication nearly prevented the Pope from receiving it. A message wasn’t passed along that the print was to be given to the Pope in Toronto and was returned to Casey in Traverse City. As luck would have it, or perhaps divine intervention, s Seminarian visiting Gaylord heard of the mix up and took the painting back to Vatican, where local Bishop Patrick Cooney presented it to the Pope on behalf of Casey and all area Catholics.
Truelove said the experience was “indescribable” and certainly inspirational. He has since started another painting titled, “Madonna and Child.” “Getting the Pope a piece of art work doesn’t happen everyday, but he pulled it off,” Mike said. “It just goes to show you a lot of faith and persistence gets the job done.” BN