For more than 30 years Greg Rosenberg has invested his life in creating the kind of art that moves people.
His most recent masterpiece took him more than two years to complete. And now Rosenberg can sit back and enjoy the view.
The project, a three-window panel of vibrant stained glass, sits in a small studio space in the second level of the Franklin Arts Center that has been repurposed as a prayer and mediation room open to the community.
“This is something that was kind of a lifelong ambition for me,” Rosenberg said of the space. “To the best of my knowledge there was nothing like this around here — certainly not that is open.”
Rosenberg said his desire to create a quiet, peaceful space for the community to enjoy comes from real life experience. After committing to sobriety more than three decades ago, Rosenberg said he desperately needed a space to retreat. “I was a basket case when I turned to God to help get things straightened out in my life,” he said. “I just needed a place to go and there wasn’t one.
“This is for people, like me, who just need a place.”
The project is a collaborative effort between Rosenberg, who has a studio in the Franklin Arts Center, and The Journey North, also a tenant of the building. Rosenberg said when the small studio opened up he knew exactly the purpose it should have, but wasn’t sure he could afford the rent. He approached Pastor Mark Bjorlo, lead pastor of The Journey North, about the church renting the space as a prayer room in exchange for Rosenberg’s contribution of the stained glass windows. “They made this possible,” he said. “They’ve seen the vision and trusted me to do it.”
Rosenberg got his start in stained glass art when his wife gave him a glass cutter and sheets of glass as a gift to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
“I just kind of started,” said Rosenberg, who used written instructions obtained from a local hobby shop to teach himself the art of cutting glass. “As soon as I made my first set of windows I knew this could be something.”
Three decades later, he is still making windows — and doors, and lamps and sculpted copper artwork. Until the Franklin Arts Center opened six years ago, Rosenberg was working out of his home in north Brainerd. At the time he was working on a 9-and-a-half foot copper cross. “I desperately needed a bigger studio,” he said. “I never could stand that thing up.”
His studio, Shining Light Studio, was the first to take residency at the Franklin Arts Center.
Rosenberg has taken on plenty of ambitious projects throughout his career, including the stained glass windows of the chapel at the Good Samaritan Society-Bethany nursing home in Brainerd, agate work and a fairly recent knack for copper sculpture.
“I actually live a remarkably successful life for being such a nut job,” he joked.
Rosenberg said the stained glass windows of the new prayer and meditation room have become his most ambitious project to date. He said it took nearly two years to raise the funding needed to cover the cost of the glass, not to mention the six months it took to create the 12-foot scene.
The windows depict a woodland scene with trees and rolling glass, a stunning rainbow, and two deer drinking from a stream. Rosenberg said the scene is inspired by Psalm 42, which says, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul thirsts for you, my God.”
“It’s decidedly Christian in nature, but it’s for everybody,” he said. “Everybody has a lot of stress.”
Rosenberg said the scene has more than 6,500 pieces of cut glass, including more than 1,500 individual pieces of glass in the rainbow alone. “It’s serene in an intense sort of way,” he said. “I wanted drama. I wanted it to be an intense scene that you can just take in.”
The prayer and meditation room is open during Franklin Arts Center hours seven days a week. Hours vary by the day, but Rosenberg said the building is open sometime during the day, seven days a week.
SARAH NELSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5879.