Before and After: St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine, Texas

We are quite pleased to so quickly be able to present another of our ever popular "before and after" series in such a short timeframe, this time looking at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Grapevine, Texas.

The project was executed by Gardiner-Hall Associates who many of our readers will already be familiar with. Without further ado, let's take a closer look.



A closer look at the altars:

It must be said that in the "before" version, there was evidently some attempt at original liturgical art, though primarily limited to the risen Christ sculpture behind. The issue is that the stylistic primitivism of this particular period has not proven anything more than a fad; it has not stood the test of time. By contrast, the Gardiner-Hall renovation brings an English, Victorian flavour to the church, one which echoes the art of the centuries before it and which has better stood the test of time. It also has the advantage of being iconographically richer and clearer.

Here's a better view of the decoration of the altar sans the flowers which were set out for the feast of Christ the King (for the record I am not for flowers obscuring an altar like this, but we'll like for another day):

The new altar clearly has a greater gravitas than the former, both in form and in material. The mosaic decoration also gives it a certain Romanitas and the blue accents tie it into the reredos behind. While note visible in this particular photo, there is also a predella, which is far too neglected in many projects today. It is good to see it included here for it sets the altar hierarchically apart from the rest of the sanctuary.

In terms of the 'reredos' like decoration behind the altar, while the 'before' with its Resurrected Christ had a certain abstract appeal in its colours and materials, what was vague previously is now much more more clear in the new arrangement with its colours and with its traditional imagery.

Overall the end result is quite good, presenting art and imagery of a more classical nature that is befitting the dignity of the sacred liturgy.

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