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September 24, 1993     The Message
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September 24, 1993

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II I I I II I I I IIIIII I II I III hoM EsSAGE PLO Israel pact unleases Mideast peace hopes By BILL PRITCHARD Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- pact signed by the Israelis the Palestine Liberation ianization on Sept. 13 loosed a flood of hope that beyond the immediate and has apparently given in the Middle East thought that a brighter fu- is possible for them. The agreement, signed by respective foreign minis- ;ers of the two entities on a day on the south lawn of White House, was limited in its immediate impact on m fortunes. But it marked the opening of mutual recognition by the Is- raelis and the PLO, and opened the door to further peace moves. Pope John Paul II called the signing a signal "of the desire for peace." The agreement grants lim- ited self-administration and local elections in some of the Israeli-occupied territory where Palestinians live. It also opens the way to economic de- velopment aid for the Palestin- ian communities, something PLO leaders said is desper- ately needed. It also allows Is- rael to directly protect its citi- zens living in the territories. There was no declaration of a Palestinian state, nor a reso- lution of the explosive question of the proprietorship of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be the subject of further discus- sions, but at this point the Is- raelis say the city will remain their eternal capital. There was also no specific guarantee of wider peace in the Middle East, but much in- terest in reaching an end to nearly five decades of Arab-Is- raeli tension was expressed in the region. Soon after the sign- ing, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin went to Egypt, which has its separate peace with Israel, to campaign for normalized relations between his country and its long-time adversaries. Although powerful factions within Israel and the PLO op- pose even the modest agree- ment ratified in Washington, there seemed to be majority support for the pact among Is- raelis and Palestinians. The agreement also gave hope to Catholic and other Christian leaders in the region that it will mark the beginning of the end of a Christian exo- dus by offering strong hope for peace and eventual prosperity. The agreement represents the birth of a "new reality and a new hope" in a land torn by conflict, said Latin-rite Patri- arch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem. For peace to succeed, leaders on both sides must now edu- cate their people away from deeply rooted hostility toward a "conversion of hearts," the patriarch said in a Sept. 10 telephone interview from Jerusalem with Catholic News Service in Rome. Patriarch Sabbah said he was convinced that despite some opposition within the re- gion, the agreement would ulti- mately be accepted without new violence. The Middle East Council of Churches said the full libera- tion of the Palestinian people and some form of shared con- trol over Jerusalem must fol- low the pact. , ictor Kup_cek Rockport conservation artist restores church statues Message staff writer Since he moved to southern Indiana several years ago, Victor Kupcek has been a man with a mission: to save and restore church statues. That wasn't his intention. Ten years ago, when he was planning his retirement, he envisioned himself leaving the rat race of Wash- ington, D.C., and heading to rural Rockport to relax in his cabin in the woods. He thought that his retirement would provide him with all the time he would need to do landscape painting. It never happened. Once word got out that a =conservation artist" was living in Rockport, he was approached by parishes in both Indiana and Kentucky asking him to restore their statues. "I got a call from a pastor who said, 'someone told me you'did conservation work.' "He asked me to restore a statue and that seemed to open the door. It just went on and on and on." So far, Kupcek has restored statues in 10 parishes. He recently mpleted the Stations of the Cross at St. Bernard Church in ckport which were "were soiled with dust and oil and covered with nicks and damage." Each station took about three weeks. He says he finds satisfaction in the restoration process, noting "there is no way to replace the statues." Many of them are made om molds dating back to the Renaissance and often the molds ave been destroyed. The statues, which are made of plaster of Paris are hollow and very fragile. "Many times, people figure 'it's only plaster of Paris, so it's not worth anything.' That's a big mis- take. These molds were made by very good artists. You can see it the expressions of the statues. You don't see that today. The :est artists today would be the norm. ,When they studied the body, they studied ve hard to make it real. It was a profession he stumbled into. He says that even as a child, he was artistic and he was always interested in the field of art hut he never thought about conservation-art. He began his work shortly after finishing mili- tary service in Korea. He was living with his mother in Washington, D.C. and looking for a job when he passed an art gallery one day. A sign in the window read "framer needed, will- ing to train." The idea appealed to him and he applied for the job. The gallery employed a con- servation artist and Kupcek worked with him for six years. Mostly, he was self- taught. He even taught himself chemistry because "when you are taking off varnishes, you never get a second chance." During his career in Washington, D.C., he worked for the Interna- s Many of the statues Kupcek has restored are over 100 years old. tional Fine  Gallery, omehm rm church restoration and the Snnthsoman As a es they have been repainted du " g " ' " . projects and their existing colors are very dissimilar to their origi- conservation artist, he re- Victor Kulmek ia a restoration artist Hying and work- nal colors. Most of the statues he restores are chipped and covered stored oil paintings, re- hag in Remkport. with scratches. Often parts of the statues are missing. "They never paired statues and frames. -- Message photo by' Mary Ann Hughes tOOk anything like the original." Of his work, he said, "You thW en he works on a statue, he begins with an in-depth study of never add any pigment: that doesn't belong there. Unless the color is gone, you only fill in or ne piece, looking to fred the original pigment. Sometimes, he match. You never over paint, you just patch. You never go over the original paint with any stri.'ps away three or four layers of paint before he finds the origi- paint." : nal. He uses paint removers which have been especially designed He says when he wanted to create his own work, not conserve someone else's, he alwa s so remove paint without damaging the layers underneath. Once I could retreat to his own studm to pmnt. =Sometimes I felt tht color schemes were wrong, but see gold leaf, I know I am at the original layer." All of his work must be done by hand. =Nothing is motorized, because I don't want to destroy anything." , . , 0fbis work, he says, ,I feel like I m on a rmssion, especially with these statues. I'm trying to save ese pieces." Kupcek's work with the church statues is an extension of the aWrk he did in Washington, D,C. where he was a conservation mt and master framer. I never painted over it. I knew it should be leR alone. If I wanted to paint.myself, I would take it out on canvas." His own painting reflts his childhood in rural Pennsylvania. He calls himself an =im- pressionistic landscape painter?' =Always back tonature, he says, adding Mother Nature is the best her long enough,shell give up her secrets."