Retired Professor Returns to Creating Religious Art

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BROWNSVILLE – A highly regarded local artist has an exhibit at a Brownsville museum showcasing his religious art creations.

Peter Gawenda is a retired as a professor from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

“I retired just a few months ago because I thought I should go back to one of my hobbies, which is painting,” he said.

Some refer to him as an artist of Saints. He created a piece showing the mother of Christ with her son’s arms around her.

It’s an ancient art form, from the time of the Roman Empire.

Gawenda was born in Germany and he fell in love with the art form when his grandmother would take him and his brother to her church.

“And it was an Orthodox church. At that time in Germany, it was referred to as ‘Old Catholic’,” Gawenda said.

He started painting them when he was about 12 years old and never stopped.

“This one here is actually St. Michael stopping the flood. And also I like the Retablo of Mexico. I restore and I try to get as close to the original as I would imagine it to be,” he said.

He also carves his other religious art forms from the Crown of Thorns to the hands and feet. He’s also written two books, one titled ‘Children’s War’ about World War II through the eyes of a child, his eyes.

“How did my grandparents and my mother succeeded to have us survive,” Gawenda said.

His other book is about his first wife whom he met while training as a pilot at Moore Air Base near Mission.

“As a German lieutenant in the American Air Force,” he said. “Irma Lozano. She was the daughter of the barber who owned the barber shop on 6th Street in McAllen.”

He is an artist of many talents on exhibit at the Historic Museum of Brownsville.

The exhibit is already open to the public at the museum and it will remain on display until the middle of January.

On Saturday, there is a Merienda to showcase his work an expert of an ancient art form.


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