The Texas Catholic
Robert Opel is always looking to share a little magic with the world.
The Garland artist thinks he’s done just that with his latest creation, which he believes will brighten the day of art enthusiasts leaving the Morton M. Meyerson Symphony Center.
“I’ve already tested it,” said Opel, smiling. “I want people to come out of a performance where they’ve just witnessed grace and magic, look up and then see this — a little more grace and magic for your day.”
On Oct. 19, The Catholic Foundation named Opel the 17th winner of its annual Art On The Plaza competition. Opel’s artwork, “Wings of Joy,” was unveiled on the 28-by-9-foot public art wall in The Catholic Foundation Plaza and will remain on display for one year in the downtown Dallas Arts District.
In addition to the public art recognition, Opel received $2,500 as this year’s winner. Artist Lori Cusick’s painting, “Shine and Be Colorful,” was selected as honorable mention in this year’s competition and she received $500. Before the winner and honorable mention entries were selected, all submissions from Texas artists were reviewed by a panel of highly respected members of the local arts community.
According to Opel, “Wings of Joy” symbolizes the exuberance and joy of local performers, artists and musicians in the Dallas Arts District.
“Millions of monarch butterflies pass through North Texas every year as they migrate between Canada and the northern U.S. on the way to Mexico where they spend winter. In late March, the butterflies are back in the Dallas area as they return north to breed,” said J. Matthew Kramer, president and CEO of The Catholic Foundation. “But thanks to Robert’s vision, visitors to the downtown Dallas Arts District will always find the biggest monarch in Texas at The Catholic Foundation Plaza for one full year until the next winning artwork is displayed in October 2023.”
Opel believes spirituality and joy are very much one and the same.
“Art is spiritual because it comes from a person’s soul,” he explained. “Each piece of art comes from who the person is, what they believe, how they are seeing the world, and they share that with us through the art.”
Looking across from the plaza at the Meyerson, Opel said that through opera, ballet, dance, poetry, acting, dancing, sculpting, painting, people are shown something inciteful and personal.
“That is how art can move you, and it can even challenge you,” he said, adding that the artwork on display in churches is another example. “It brings the spiritual world in a tangible way so that we can see it and understand there is something beyond our terra here on earth.”
Opel, who moved to Texas as a teenager with his family, refers to the town in which he was raised of Windsor, Mo. as being like a Norman Rockwell painting — a place where everyone knew one another and lived a happy life.
In Missouri, he spent a considerable amount of time on his grandparent’s farm where he learned to draw designs on the fabric his grandmother quilted. There, Opel fell in love with birds and flying insects that he would later doodle with the help of his father.
As a high school student in Conroe, just north of Houston, Opel became an Eagle Scout, reflecting his many talents. He honed his artistic skills in Denton where he earned a bachelor’s degree in advertising art from the University of North Texas.
After college, Opel became a commercial artist and worked for many years as a graphic designer before he joined the Dallas Museum of Art. At the DMA, Opel not only teaches people of all ages about art as a docent, but he sells art and gifts in the museum retail store and creates commissioned art pieces in his home studio.
Located on the north side of the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe and across from the Meyerson Symphony Center, The Catholic Foundation Plaza was dedicated in 2006 as a gift to the Dallas community from The Catholic Foundation to commemorate its 50th anniversary.