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The Carthage Press
  • Sam Butcher continues Precious Moments art at 75

  • Precious Moments visitors' eyes widen and smiles become bigger when they realize who they're meeting in the Chapel.
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  • Precious Moments visitors' eyes widen and smiles become bigger when they realize who they're meeting in the Chapel.
    Artist and the founder of Precious Moments Sam Butcher has returned to Carthage from his home in the Philippines to paint again. At the age of 75, he doesn't hesitate to break from painting to sign autographs and visit with guests.
    “I'm there to do that for people,” he said. “It's a wonderful feeling … I was painting at the scene of Jesus with the children when some people from Russia told me about how hard it is to be Christian in their country … Many wonderful experiences have taken place in the Chapel.”
    Butcher said his intentions in painting again involve him being “his own worst critic.” But also, he is continuing to enhance his art and take care of any damage that naturally occurs over periods of time. In fact, he has worked on his murals ever since the Chapel opened in 1989. Terri Heckmaster, president of the Precious Moments Supporting Foundation, said she has witnessed the murals transition over the years.
    On the west side of the Chapel, visitors will be able to see a difference in the “Children of the Bible” series of windows.
    “I wanted the figures to grow,” he said.
    Butcher is also working on the clouds on the ceiling of the Chapel. With a smile, Butcher acknowledged he is now much more careful while painting 32 feet off the floor.
    “What's amazing about Mr. Butcher is that he has been fearless in everything to do with art,” Heckmaster said. “From the establishment of Precious Moments, to going overseas to learn about different mediums like bronzing and carving – he's just fearless.”
    “Except for the big 'Hallelujah Square' mural,” Butcher said with chuckle.
    For years, Butcher painted around the far east wall, which is a tribute to the lives of real children whose lives ended too soon. But, on the 20th anniversary (five years ago) Butcher's mother was the last individual to be added to the “Hallelujah Square” mural. He described her as the peacemaker of his family.
    At the end of August, Butcher plans on returning to the Philippines. But, he said his art will never end.

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