By Kim Steele
Harker Heights Herald
The process of creating stained-glass windows for Seton Medical Center Harker Heights has been a guessing game for artist David Salzman.
The 59-year-old Temple resident was chosen in August by American Art Resources in Houston to create a main and two side windows for the new hospital's chapel. Salzman, who owns Salzman Glass Arts in Temple, said the process moved quickly and challenged his imagination - and sometimes even his patience.
"American Art Resources called and said they saw my website and were looking for an artist," said Salzman. "They asked if I would send in a few designs - in two days. They said they wanted Hill Country ethereal, so I asked what that meant. I had no idea. I thought the hospital must be in Kerrville."
Salzman quickly penciled three sketches - an abstract sky and earth compilation, a leaf and vine drawing and a geometric design. At first, he said, American Art Resources specified that a cross be excluded from its choice, the geometric design, then reversed the decision and required it.
American Art Resources is a professional art consulting business that works exclusively with the health care industry. The company is responsible for finding, recommending and managing the commissioning process for Legacy Health Partners Hospitals Inc., of which Seton in Harker Heights is a member.
"It was a shot in the dark," said Salzman of his sketches. "I just threw something out to see if it stuck. They had something in their heads already, and I was trying to get out of them what they wanted. The whole thing was supposed to be a bigger, longer process, but they did it so quickly there wasn't time."
When Salzman was chosen two weeks after submitting his designs, he wanted to visit the chapel and was told the room, which will be decorated in earth tones, only consists of wooden studs now. Salzman said he is counting on American Art Resources to make everything work together by the June 18 opening.
Kathy Hathorn, CEO and creative director for American Art Resources, said Salzman has been sensitive to the hospital's need for artwork that brings comfort and peace to the chapel. Hathorn said Salzman has a wide range of styles and his work boasts a high technical quality.
"When our firm began looking for the perfect artist to create a stained-glass window for the Harker Heights chapel, we wanted a top-notch artist for the project," said Hathorn.
"We looked at many possible Texas artists, and David's work stood out head and shoulders. ... We were thrilled to learn that he is a hometown boy on top of being an artist with extraordinary talent."
Salzman has created stained-glass windows for the Christian House of Prayer in Killeen and Greater Vision Community Church in Killeen, as well as about 30 other religious facilities in the area. Salzman, who has a degree in church history, has created stained-glass windows for about 35 years.
Salzman said he will begin cutting the glass for the main window this week, laying out the pieces on glass so light can be shown through it as he works. Salzman said American Art Resources wants him to use tertiary colors, which are softer off-colors and include yellow-green, steel blue and pink-purple.
The three windows will take about six weeks to complete, he said. After the lead has been soldered and puttied into place, the main window will measure 50 inches by 50 inches and weigh about 75 pounds. The side windows will weigh about 10 pounds each. The project costs between $100 and $150 a square foot.
"I'm always happy to do something like this," said Salzman about the project, despite its difficulties. "We all want a legacy, and I am one of the lucky few who can say that I left something special behind. My hope is that my artwork will continue to comfort people going through a crisis long after I'm gone."
Melissa Purl, director of marketing for Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, said she is excited about seeing the finished artwork and how it will fit into the overall art scheme of the new chapel. Purl said the stained-glass windows are critical to the chapel's mission of encouraging visitors.
"David's attention to detail and understanding of the importance of our chapel windows set him apart as a stained-glass artist," said Purl. "That he is local just made our day. When we found that kind of talent, we were thrilled."
Contact Kim Steele at email@example.com or (254) 501-7567.