Weatherford Democrat


November 27, 2009

Hill Country priest draws acclaim for mosaics

MARBLE FALLS, Texas (AP) — The cases of empty Shiner beer bottles are stacked in the Rev. Jairo Lopez's garage. The trash from someone's party is now treasured material — he will hand cut the glass bottles into small pieces that he will use for his art.

Perhaps it will be used in a large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, that will grace a church wall or maybe a peacock that will brighten a porch.

Lopez, 42, is a mosaic artist who creates images by assembling small pieces of colored glass or tile. In Marble Falls, his work can be found in his St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and on Main Street. In Horseshoe Bay, it is on display in the home of Cheryl Klein.

"I've seen it," Klein's friend, Don Reed, said of a piece called "Son of Suns," a brilliant sun shining down on a field of sunflowers. "It will just take your breath away. It's just gorgeous."

In Austin, his work is on display at the Chancery chapel at the Catholic Diocese of Austin. The Woodland Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has two sculptures, one of two peacocks and another of bluebonnets.

Back in his garage studio on the property of St. John's, Lopez says the empty beer and wine bottles are gifts from the community. People know about the Catholic priest's affinity for recycling glass into art. "I have too many bottles now," he said with a smile. Although his work can be seen in other Central Texas churches, St. John's is the unofficial gallery for his work.

Outside the church is a water fountain surrounded by a granite-tiled circular pathway that is Lopez's work. Inside, over the back entrance, is a Lopez mosaic of the Coat of Arms of the Holy Cross community. At the altar, two mosaic angels flank a large cross on the back wall.

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