May 112012
 

Wabasha is the home of the National Eagle Center.

Just outside the center on the banks of the Mississippi River is a beautiful statue of a Chief Wabasha.  He was a noted man in his day, and was recognized as head chief of the River bands of Sioux. During the troubles with the Winnebago Indians, at Prairie du Chien, at an early day, Wah-pah-sha was invited by them to a council. After listening to the Winnebago chiefs, and what they proposed doing to the whites, Wah-pah-sha arose, and, pulling a hair from his head, blew it away, telling the council that if they harmed a white man he would blow them from the face of the earth as he had blown the hair. The chief with his band made their summer residence on what is now called “Sand Prairie,” or, as it was called by the old voyageurs, “La Prairie au Cypre.”

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 Posted by at 8:34 PM
May 112012
 

Trip Advisor says that the “Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration” is the second highest rated thing to see in La Crosse Wisconsin.  One comment left by a visitor to this convent was that they had traveled Europe and this convent  was as impressive than those seen in Europe.  Off I went!

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As usual the first order of business was to get permission to photograph inside.  I have never photographed in a convent.  I really did not know what to expect.  I always ask BEFORE I take my gear out of the vehicle.  Don’t want to seem presumptuous.  Realizing that a convent is made up of “Sisters” of the Catholic faith my hopes were not too high to get in.  At the main door I was greeted by locked doors.  Oh well.  But as I turned a voice came from a little speaker I didn’t notice earlier.

“Can I help you?”

My response…”May I photograph inside the convent?  It looks like there is a beautiful chapel”

“Sure come in!”

The door buzzed and I walked in.  Greeted by an extremely nice and normal looking woman I realized I didn’t have my gear.  Awkward!  Out I went ran to the truck, and was back and buzzed back in.  They asked what my purpose was and if I intended to sale any photographs.  After assuring her that my intentions was purely personal.  I also noted that if by chance any photographs turned out Ok I would post them on my web.  NOT FOR SALE.  Soon a sister came out and took me to the Chapel.  I stopped at the door and by breath was literally taken away.  Remember that my whole life has revolved around construction.  This Chapel was incredible.  The architecture, colors, detail, carvings and and art was over the top.  Beautiful.  The Convent is called the St. Rose Convent.  The Chapel is the Mary of the Angels Chapel.

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I am going to do something here that really helps with the conveyance of what I saw and felt at the Chapel and Convent. There is no way to even come close to the actual experience.  I will post a color and Black and White image of the same view.  Notice that when you look at the black and white image the shapes and architecture seem more prominent….

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About an hour passed.  The only noise while there was my breathing and the clicks of my camera as I shot all views in preparation to do HDR development in post.  All photographs are 9 shot HDR’s.  My attention was so focused on trying to get it right I lost track of time.  And the fact that the good Sister was sitting in the back waiting for me to finish.  I was embarrassed that I didn’t even notice her when I turned and shot towards the door….

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I really did not know what or where any areas that may or may not be appropriate to stand in or photograph.  I really was a little uncomfortable.  The Sister told me everything was OK and that she had nowhere to go.  That helped… a little bit.

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Eventually I thought it would be best to not keep her any longer.  When preparing to leave she asked if I would like a tour.  Just me!  You Betcha!  She called another Sister and she came to take me on my own tour.  This lovely Sister is 84.  Almost the same age as my mother.  Sharp as a tack and thrilled about taking me throughout the Chapel, the Rose Convent and the Perpetual Adoration Chapel (Mary of Angels Chapel) where it serves as the place of prayer for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.  For over 100 years the sisters of the Convent have prayed 24 hours a day 365 days a year in the Mary of Angels Chapel!  Non stop.  The sister asked if I wanted to go back to  Chapel and see it and the Sisters praying.   It reminded me of the changing of the guard at the Unknown Soldier Memorial.  Two sisters side by side.   Praying.  I really felt awkward in there.  It is a very small Chapel with a few extra seats right behind the sisters that were praying. Walk area adjacent to the main Chapel had all the detail and finishes of the Chapel.

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The Sister had tons of energy and was so courteous to me.  Of course not being of the Catholic faith I had tons of questions about the statues, art, symbols, etc.  It was very interesting.  I am familiar with the history in the Bible.  Many names she was expressing and showing me were familiar.  Though the names and their “roles” are different to her than what I have read and interpreted in the bible we both had faith in what we each had in our hearts.  We both believed and prayed to a God.  A different God.  The Faith in each of our God(s) is what we had in common.  The statues here are one of a kind.  Made of bronze with no replicas.

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Most of the symbols and symbolism was found behind the alter.  Gold, Italian marble, mother-of -pearl and other natural materials was used in this area.

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The plan view or floor plan of the Chapel is in the shape of The Cross.  On either side of the Chapel where The Cross extends is a sitting area.

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I really enjoyed the tour and this wonderful Sister.  She was so generous with her time. And so very kind to me.   I won’t soon forget her and the beautiful edifice that I found myself in today.  The amazing part is that I felt that she stretched the typical tour rules for me. I never asked.  Based on her comments I knew I was being treated a little special today.  If you are ever in La Crosse Wisconsin stop into the St. Rose Convent and see a one of a kind edifice and meet some very nice Sisters!

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 Posted by at 12:30 AM
May 102012
 

Winona, Minnesota

“Faith-filled and dedicated Polish immigrants who settled in Winona in the middle of the 19th century planted the seeds for would become the present Basilica of Saint Stanislaus Kostka.  When their original frame building could no longer accommodate  a rapid;y swelling membership, the pioneers’ vision and strong sense of stewardship led them to erect a church which has endured into the 21st century.  Dedicated in 1895, the Romanesque-style structure is built in the form of a Greek cross”

This statement, I found on the cover of an information sheet at the Basilica.

Driving along the Mississippi I passed several small communities.  Each had a common visual element as I passed  each one.  A spire with a Cross at the top rising above the trees.  In most cases the tallest structure seen from the highway.  When passing Winona this Basilica stood out.  From the highway about a mile away.   Had to get back and see.  I am intrigued by the structural elements and the history of the construction of these old buildings.  Especially places of worship.  The labor may have been donated. As well as materials.   People sacrificed to erect beautiful edifices like this one.  I always ask permission to photograph these type of places of Worship.  To the people there they are sacred and holy.  I would never want to be disrespectful to the building or it’s congregation.  Here I met the Pastoral Associate and had a wonderful conversation with her.  Learned a little about the history and the people.  She mentioned at times that a mass or funeral the choir may sing in Polish.  As I spoke to her I imagined the choir at the back of the circular Basilica high above the congregation singing in praise to their God.  The congregation and the community must have  great pride in this facility.   It is unique and striking in its beauty……

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 Posted by at 10:52 AM
May 082012
 

In meetings and dinner until late tonight.  Had to get to the park at the Mississippi River tonight and take one shot for good times sake!  This community of LaCrosse Wisconsin is beautiful!!!!  Nice and cool tonight.  Could have stayed out all night and enjoyed the smells and cool breeze……

 

 Posted by at 9:38 PM
May 072012
 

Tonight I find myself in La Crosse Wisconsin.  Flew into Minneapolis Minnesota this afternoon and drove along the Mississippi to La Crosse.  BEAUTIFUL.   It took a couple of hours so I didn’t have a ton of time to shoot.  I am planning a few extra days here to explore and cram the pixels!!!!!!!

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 Posted by at 9:10 PM
2016