Lift high the cross

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

Whether the project is a sculpture of St. Francis welcoming church-goers or a Madonna-like figure holding a bundle, symbolic of a child’s death, local artist Gianfranco Tassara creates masterpieces for faith-related institutions. He uses a variety of materials including paper, wood, metal, marble and glass for his sculptures.

Most recently, Tassara supervised the placement of his latest creation — a 200-pound aluminum cross that billows almost 27 feet high over the Mason Temple Church of God, a new church that is being built at 6090 N. 35th St., Milwaukee.

“That was my original training, getting into this type of art was with religious work,” Tassara said.

Tassara spends time with his clients, mulling over what unique needs they may have before his artistic vision strikes. From the materials suggested, he dives into his mind and works with six employees to realize the vision he and his client have.

“There’s a sense of pride on our part to do work in an area that I believe needs some improvements,” Tassara said. “I think it’s really good for a church like that to make such an investment.”

This time, the client is the pastor of the Mason Temple, Osie Tatum Jr. Tassara was recommended to Tatum by the Jansen Group, the general contractor for the church construction project, which previously worked with Tassara.

“We’re calling the church the ‘Miracle on 35th Street,'” Tatum said.

The first service at the new church will be held Sunday, Oct. 8. The dedicatory service will be held Saturday, Oct. 21.

Tatum said he liquidated properties in possession by the church and used tithes, offerings and pledges totaling more than $8,000 to assist with purchasing the four-acre property, which includes a newly named school, the Jared C. Bruce Academy, after a former member of the church — a 17-year-old boy who died of cancer.

Loans are picking up the difference and will be paid off through offerings, Tatum said.

“This church gives us room to grow,” Tatum said. “We have 400 people in our congregation, and the church can seat about 1,100. I can assure you we’ll grow.”

Tassara, a spiritual artist, founded Inspired Artisans Ltd. in 1997 and houses it at 816 W. National Ave. He was born in Peru, raised in Italy and now lives in Shorewood.

“My favorite (medium) is mosaic,” Tassara said.

His current project is the restoration of the mosaic tiles at the Milwaukee Public Library, 814 Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee.

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