To those who knew him, the Rev. Edward Catich was a genius.
In addition to being a Catholic priest, he was a sign painter; jazz musician; visionary instructor of math, engineering, music and art; author; stone-cutter; photographer and world-renowned calligrapher.
To those who did not know the St. Ambrose University faculty member, who died in 1979, there is still an opportunity to see and learn about his art thanks to inspired students who had the good fortune to study under him.
Paul Herrera, Amy Nielsen and several other Quad-City area artists founded a nonprofit group in 2012 called the Art Legacy League to honor and preserve Catich's artistic and teaching legacy.
On Friday, they will host an open house from 3-5 p.m. at the league's new studio location at One River Place, a brick building at 1225 E. River Drive, Davenport, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The studio offers classes in drawing, calligraphy, painting and art history and displays some of the about 200 original Catich works that are owned by the league, donated anonymously to Herrera.
Works include slate inscriptions, calligraphy and watercolors of landscapes as well as abstract expressionism.
The league also maintains a gift shop of local work.
The open house will include a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. with Molly Newell, owner of the building and the business EnviroNET, and representatives of the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.
Social distancing and mask wearing will be enforced.
League members will demonstrate calligraphy, stone incising and watercolor painting and invite visitors to try their hand at the same activities.
The league previously had a studio in the J.B. Young Opportunity Center, formerly a junior high school on Davenport's Main Street. But because it has been closed for so long because of the COVID-19 pandemic and they were uncertain about when it will reopen, the art league decided to relocate, Herrera said.
In addition to all the skills listed above, Catich was a paleographer, a person who studies ancient writing systems and deciphers manuscripts.
That the Quad-Cities had such a person in its midst is amazing to Herrera, and he and other league members want to keep that legacy alive.
After Friday's open house, the studio will be open Monday-Friday mornings and by appointment by contacting Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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