In February 2013, Mr. Vibe was out on a picking junket looking for mid-century treasures when he came across a striking copper and black abstract painting in a shop in the teaming metropolis of Genola, Minnesota (Population: 75).
Not being an expert in art, he was unsure of what he had, but he knew he had something special.
The piece was signed “D.H. Spahn ’63” on the front and had a title on the back. It was called “Inschrift,” the German word for “Inscription.”
Mr. Vibe did some research on D.H. Spahn, but came up empty-handed. We placed the painting for sale at MidModMen+friends and admired it when we were in the store.
Recently, Neal, one of the MidModMen, suggested we look up Dieterich Spahn to see if he could possibly be the painting’s D.H. Spahn.
We discovered that Dieterich Spahn is a renowned artist who specializes in liturgical stained glass, having over 3,000 installations. Although he specializes in stained glass, he is also a painter, with his works being held in collections internationally.
Mr. Vibe emailed Dieterich through his website and attached a picture of the painting, asking if he was the artist. Dieterich replied that, yes, he was the artist of our painting and he remembered it. He then shared information about who he had sold the painting to and asked how it came to be in Genola since the last he had heard, it was in River Falls, Wisconsin. How it came to land in Genola, we had no idea.
In our email conversations, we invited Dieterich to visit the painting at the store and he gladly accepted the invitation. He came to visit this past Saturday and shared some of his life history. He also posed with his painting, which is actually one of his earliest works in the United States. He is originally from Germany, having come here in 1961 at the invitation of stained glass artist Peter Dohmen, owner of Peter Dohmen Studios. (There’s lots of great history on Spahn on this page at Jim on Light’s website.)
During Mr. Vibe’s conversation with Dieterich at MidModMen, our hometown of Little Falls was mentioned. Dieterich said he had done work here at St. Mary’s Church. Peter Dohmen Studios had been contracted to design and install the stained glass, with Dieterich being assigned to design and make the stained glass in the baptistery, chapel, and above the main door.
With thousands of installations around the United States, and one especially large one at Valparaiso University’s Chapel of the Resurrection, it was exciting to discover that some of Dieterich’s work is literally within blocks of our home.
We truly appreciate the time Dieterich spent with us in sharing the history of his work and of our painting. Check out more of his work by visiting the links we’ve added to this post.