- [Announcer] Production of "Applause" on Ideastream Public Media is made possible by the John P. Murphy Foundation, the Kulas Foundation, and by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
(upbeat jazz music) - [Kabir] Coming up, a Northeast Ohio nun is paid a visit by a sister from the Vatican.
We spotlight the faith and the art of Mother Mary Thomas, plus a beloved children's magazine from Columbus looks to the future by sticking with tradition, and Franz Welser-Möst takes us on a musical journey to his hometown in Austria and the Cleveland Orchestra tags along.
Welcome back, my friends to "Applause."
I'm Ideastream Public Media's Kabir Bhatia.
Advocates of Cleveland artist, Mother Mary Thomas, have long dreamed of sharing her art with the Vatican Museums in Italy.
Mother Thomas, now 90, was recently honored in a big way as a high-ranking official from the Vatican viewed her large canvas mural at Saint Paul's Shrine in Cleveland.
- I just can't thank God enough and thank all of you people enough for all your encouragement and your inspiration.
Well, it just makes me want to do all I can.
- [Kabir] While it's too soon to say how this visit could affect the future of her mural, let's look back now at this profile of Mother Thomas from 2017 from Ideastream Public Media's Carrie Wise.
- [Carrie] Inside a downtown Cleveland monastery Mother Mary Thomas is at work painting.
The second floor chapel serves as studio space for her and her mural.
- So this is what I came up with, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and Communion of Saints, but in it I have saints of practically every century, but not just canonized, but just ordinary people like ourselves.
- [Carrie] Mother Thomas became a cloistered nun 57 years ago, but before she came to Euclid Avenue, she was establishing an art career.
She studied at the Chicago Institute of Art and in Mexico.
While there she painted a mural featuring the Mexican masters, Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros.
- What really spoke to me was the fact that they painted from their heart.
- [Carrie] After Mexico, she went to Rome.
While there she says she was called to be a nun and found the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland.
- I came in November 1959 and I've been here ever since.
- [Carrie] When she entered the convent she put her art aside for more than a decade until others saw her ability and encouraged her to paint.
- Around '75, '76, '78, I think I was really pretty much into it.
I think that's when I did the Franciscan paintings here.
Those are some of my best ones.
- [Carrie] At 83 years old, Mother Thomas is still creating.
For the last decade, she has been working on a 28 by 17 foot mural, which was commissioned by an African American church in Philadelphia.
- I had the cartoon that is a full-sized paper drawing, which I had to lay over the canvas, and trace it on that from that.
- And that's painstaking, she's on her knees.
She's on her knees, 10, 12 hours a day working on this.
- [Carrie] Sharon Deitrick is a longtime fan of Mother Thomas's art.
- [Sharon] Then she comes back and she begins with acrylic paints.
She then overlays oil paints and then completes it with linseed oil so that this painting will be able to be for centuries to come.
- [Carrie] As the mural was nearing completion, they received word that the Philadelphia church where it was headed was closing.
- [Sharon] At that time I said, God has a place.
Let's pray where that place might be.
- [Carrie] She's now working to get this mural to the Vatican Museums in Italy.
- [Sharon] There's a lot of paperwork and a lot of communications and it will not be a small task, but that is our target.
- [Carrie] Mother Thomas has since adjusted her original design for the mural to appeal to a broad audience.
- No matter what church or where it would go, it would fit in with everybody because it's our basic, it's the end of our journey, so to speak.
I mean, our goal towards sanctity, toward reaching heaven, towards Christ, you know.
I think basically that's it and it's for everybody.
It's not just for a certain group of people.
- And we can see that she's used people all the way back from 2,000 years ago to as present as artists of this day to the Pope.
I think it's rather interesting, particularly in the latter day that she uses the art, the beauty.
She presents that in there as something true and good and beautiful within something that is true and good and beautiful.
Trying to point us toward that which ennobles the human person that which blesses them and makes them holy and gives them life and love.
- [Carrie] Love is what Mother Thomas hopes to communicate through her art.
- That's the motive behind it.
And to help people love him more, to know him better, Christ and the Trinity, I mean, our Blessed Mother, the saints.
That's what I try to do to make people know better and to experience it myself too, of course.
- [Carrie] Her art also helps support her fellow sisters.
Through charity auctions prints of her work help raise money for the nuns.
- [Sharon] All 100% of those proceeds have gone into helping the sisters here survive.
They have a herculean task to take care of this monastery and all of its grounds.
- It's obvious from the very start that the reason she does this is because she believes with every ounce of her being about the whole Christian story, and she allows it to come out through her art.
And when I came to visit her and look at the art I was touched at how not only was she such a strong person of faith, but how that faith was expressed in her artwork.
- [Carrie] For a church these are more than just beautiful works that hang on a wall.
- We can take this painting and have someone come before it, and whether they're a believer or not, they will come before it for a little while to study it and to see what it has to say.
Now, if I was just standing here talking about truth I might get a couple people's opinion, attention for a moment.
People would start wandering away, but because it's beautiful people will stop and listen.
- [Carrie] Mother Thomas wants to make the most of that attention.
- It has to be something significant, something that will touch people's hearts, and that will make them mentally alert to what our faith really entails.
You want them to think of it as being the most important things in their life.
I mean, their reason what to live for.
I would love to have my artwork convey this.
- [Kabir] Here's another Ohioan whose faith inspires her art.
Ever since she was a little girl growing up in Dayton, Yvette Walker Dalton has known she was an artist.
Her professional career spans from creating greeting cards to glassware, portraits to landscapes, and now in retirement she looks back on a life dedicated to art.
(gentle music) - In retiring, I always said I want to go back to being an artist.
I started with acrylics.
I like doing acrylics and I started doing collages.
I have a piece that I'm working on right now.
I can't decide whether I'm gonna do it in acrylics, or if I'm going to do a collage, but that's where I am right now.
I am Yvette Walker Dalton.
I'm a Daytonian, and I'm also an artist.
I have always been an artist.
Even when I was a little child I was an artist.
My parents didn't know that not until I was six-years-old and I had to have a visiting nurse.
Her name was Mattie Lyle.
She was the first African American visiting nurse here in Dayton, Ohio.
And she told my mother and father that I think this child has some art skills.
And so ever since then, mother and dad made sure I had paper, pencils, crayons.
I started out being a art teacher.
I turned out to be a graphic designer.
My youngest daughter was born as a preemie.
She weighed two pounds, 12 ounces.
That meant that when she came home at five pounds somebody had to be there to take care of her, and I could not go back teaching.
So I started designing cards for friends.
There weren't any Black greeting cards that we could go into stores and buy.
So I started designing cards and that just took off.
It absolutely took off.
We started with Christmas cards, and then we got into the long cards, the funny cards.
We used, like, slogans from Flip Wilson.
Things that were sort of out there in the '60s and in the early '70s.
Then we started designing Black greeting cards for Gibson greeting cards.
We used all of the people that we knew, took pictures of our family, our friends.
Those went over very well.
Then pretty soon a recession came along and some of our distributors went bankrupt, and we had to go bankrupt so that ended the card business.
We also did work for Procter and Gamble, things like salesman ads, tear packets, shelf signs.
In '76, my husband and I got a divorce.
I moved to Lancaster, Ohio, and I was able to work for Anchor Hocking Corporation and designing glassware for them.
One Christmas, Christmas 1979, the director came in and said, "Okay, who in this art department is not doing anything for Christmas?"
And I raised my hand.
I said, "What is it that you want me to do?"
And he said, "Well, "Star Wars" want you basically to do a line of glassware for them and so can you go home and make up some type of sketches for at least four glasses?"
And so they gave me photographs of what they wanted on these particular glasses.
They also had me sign a paper saying that I would not, not, not tell about Yoda at that particular time that was coming out for "The Empire Strikes Back."
And so I went home and that's what I did.
And I just loved making those glasses.
That was really a fun job.
In the meantime, I had been going back and forth from Cincinnati to Lancaster, Ohio because my church was in Cincinnati.
The pastor there had been talking to me how about going into the ministry, Yvette?
And I thought he was absolutely crazy 'cause I had never seen a woman pastor in my entire life.
And I said, "Well, if I'm going into the ministry I'm not becoming a minister.
I'm gonna combine my art experience with a theological education."
That was my whole reason for going into seminary.
My first church was in Louisville, Shawnee Presbyterian Church.
They called me to be pastor.
It was a great experience being a pastor.
I enjoyed working with the people.
I enjoyed seeing people grow.
I enjoyed working with the children.
They became my family, and, hopefully, I became one of theirs as well.
I'm very excited about exhibiting at Grace Methodist Church here in Dayton.
(soft cheerful music) These pieces are all pieces I have worked on since retirement.
What's next for me?
I'm not quite sure.
I'm just living in the moment right now.
Someone said, "Oh, you're just like Grandma Moses."
Well, I know that I'm close to her age.
I'm 75 and she basically started at 76.
Oh, she painted up until she died 101.
So I don't wanna think ahead too far.
I still wanna deal with where I am right now.
It's just absolutely great to think about my next project and I don't wanna get too far ahead of that.
(soft cheerful music) - [Kabir] The sport of soccer and the art of poetry come together in a unique program teaching leadership and building character.
On the next "Applause" get to know a poet athlete inspiring local artists to create new works.
Plus meet another group of kids who've unearthed a long forgotten children's book created by two Cleveland legends from the 1930s, and enjoy the stirring music of Italian folk act, Alla Boara.
(singing in foreign language) All this and more on the next round of "Applause."
Since its founding in 1946 "Highlights" magazine has been committed to helping children learn and grow.
Using their imagination the "Highlights" team creates engaging stories, puzzles and more for their young readers.
(Josie laughing) - [Andy] That infectious laugh belongs to Josie Bailey.
She's a rambunctious four-year-old who loves playing with her younger brother in her backyard just outside of Columbus.
It's sometimes a challenge though to get Josie to slow down and take a break, but one thing that manages to capture her attention is a magazine.
- It's so pretty.
- [Andy] It's called "High Five" and it's the younger sister publication to the long-running "Highlights" magazine.
- Josie will look at the same magazine every day and find new stuff.
She gets really excited just recognizing different animals in the magazine.
- Horses and foxes and bunnies and birdies.
- Josie really loves taking a marker or a pen, and she likes to draw her own illustrations.
- [Josie] He had two eyeballs in there.
- [Andy] Something that the Bailey's love is that they also read "Highlights" growing up.
- I think the coolest thing about "Highlights" magazine is it still looks the same.
It still feels the same.
So, whereas, a lot of other things have kind of changed over time, I feel like they're enjoying the same magazine that we enjoyed as kids.
- And, hopefully, they'll turn out as great as us.
(Mallory laughing) - [Andy] That same look and feel Mallory describes isn't an accident.
- There are certain things that appear in every issue of "Highlights."
We call those our legacy features and they're non-negotiable they're in each issue.
So, for example, we always have a hidden picture in every issue of "Highlights."
In fact, there's been a hidden picture in every issue of "Highlights" since June 1946 the very first one.
- You heard it right, June 1946.
Nearly 75 years ago "Highlights" debuted its first magazine and its longest-running feature, "Hidden Pictures" the visual puzzle that pushes kids to focus and find small pictures inside a larger scene.
And that's not the only feature to stay consistent for generations.
Still in every issue is "The Timbertoes."
A simple illustrated story centered around a wood carved family, which debuted in "Highlights" in 1951.
And, of course, the wholesome "Goofus and Gallant," a comic featuring two contrasting characters.
Goofus, modeling bad behavior, and Gallant, modeling good.
They first appeared in the pages of "Highlights" in 1948 and are still a legacy feature today.
"Goofus and Gallant" in 1951.
"Goofus and Gallant" in 2019.
There's an evolution and animation in everything, but there's still a very common theme between the two of them.
- Part of its appeal to young children is its lack of ambiguity.
I mean, it's a little black and white.
It's practice for the big harder moral decisions that are gonna come later.
Yeah, I love that kids still love it today.
- We're always aspiring to be our Gallant, but also if I do something that's a little Goofus how do I make up for it?
How do I apologize?
How do I make things right?
- [Andy] "Highlights" CEO, Kent Johnson, knows a thing or two about "Goofus and Gallant."
His great-grandfather, Dr. Garry Cleveland Meyers created the comic and founded "Highlights" magazine with his wife, Caroline, just after World War II.
- I like to say I did everything I could in my life to not join the family business and I failed at it.
- [Andy] According to Johnson, the mission of the business he runs today, headquartered in Columbus, has essentially stayed the same.
- We have to be dynamic.
We have to adapt to what's going on in the world.
And yet the foundational values and principles, our commitment to children, remains the same as it was at day one.
- [Andy] Something else that hasn't changed, according to Johnson, kids.
- I think adults believe that everything's changed for kids.
You know, the world's changed so quickly, like, being a child now is gonna be so different.
We've got devices and it's busy and all of these things, but what we know is kids still have some of the same issues they've had since 1946.
How do I get along with my siblings?
What happens when I have a falling-out with my best friend?
Those things are universal.
Those things aren't changing.
- French Cully says "Highlights" knows kids well, not through consultants or focus groups, but by communicating directly with them the old-fashioned way.
How do you find out what kids want to see?
- One of the things we do that I think is the best way to keep our fingers on the pulse of our readers is that we answer every letter and email we get from children and we've done that for years.
You might be surprised to see the kinds of letters we get from kids.
They write to us about their deeply held hopes and dreams and fears.
It's as if we are their really very best friends.
We learn a lot about kids from what kids tell us.
I think we really are the publisher with the most authentic dialogue with kids.
- Rather than take their word for it we decided to visit our own panel of experts.
We're talking about "Highlights" magazines.
Has anybody seen "Highlights" magazine before?
Well, we have a bunch of "Highlights" magazines for you to read today and then after a little bit we're gonna talk to you a little bit more.
Does that sound good to you?
- [All] Yeah.
- [Andy] Okay, cool.
Ms. Burkhalter's third grade class at Evening Street Elementary School, not too far from "Highlights" headquarters had a lot to say about the magazine.
- Oh, Kurt, look at it.
- I learned about this sea slug 'cause I didn't know about this yet.
- I liked how it has, like, articles and then it also has, like, stuff that you can, like, make, and it has, like, little word searches.
- I like "Goofus and Gallant" because Goofus shows you him misbehaving and Gallant is showing you how to behave.
- They always have a couple silly things in there.
There's also some serious things like, I don't know this is funny.
- [Andy] But they were pretty unanimous about what they liked best.
- I like the "Hidden Pictures."
There's the butterfly back there.
Well, I like 'em because you have to, like, focus, like, on the little things instead of just the big things around.
- For the "Hidden Pictures" it's not easy.
Like it's not in, like, a corner, like, a corner.
It's, like, in people or, like, on people.
It's challenging and it's fun.
- [Andy] "Hidden Pictures" the longest-running feature in the magazine was also the most popular among this crowd.
Ms. Burkhalter's class was no stranger to the magazine.
In fact, it's been a familiar sight in classrooms and in doctor's offices by design since the 1950s.
- So the dentist's office, the school program, those were ways to reach kids where they are.
- [Andy] But being where the kids are in an increasingly digital world means expanding beyond the physical pages of a magazine.
- We get to play games the majority of our day so can't complain about that.
In terms of digital we definitely bring the same experience that the magazine brings to life in a digital format.
We are creating those deeply engaging, fun, enriching experiences.
It just happens to be in a different medium.
- [Andy] "Highlights" has two websites, a podcast, a handful of apps, and is further expanding its digital presence.
One feature that's translated seamlessly to digital media.
- [Kerstin] See how bad I am at it.
- That's right, "Hidden Pictures."
We've seen through a lot of companies who find success in evolving and growing, but there's also this push-pull of not straying too far from your original message, not straying too far.
So how do you deal with that push-pull?
- So I often say inside the company, I say we're not a magazine company, and, in fact, we never were.
People look at me and they say, what are you talking about?
You started as a magazine.
I think the founders were about the impact they wanted to have on children.
So if we keep in mind that we're not committed to magazines, we're not committed to a particular channel, we're not committed to a certain product type or technology, what we're committed to is making a positive impact on children.
That frees us up to think what has to stay the same.
Certain values, certain beliefs about children stay the same.
Everything else can change.
- Oh, I like this.
(classical upbeat music) - [Kabir] The Cleveland Orchestra recently performed a love letter to Franz Welser-Möst's hometown of Linz, Austria.
Written by fellow Austrian, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his "Symphony No.
36" was inspired by a trip he took to this scenic city along the Danube River.
(music "Symphony No.
36" "Linz") - [Kabir] For more of this Cleveland Orchestra concert featuring Franz Welser-Möst at the podium, visit the orchestra's Adella app.
And don't forget about the PBS app where you can check out past episodes of "Applause."
It's time to say so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen and goodbye.
I'm Ideastream Public Media's Kabir Bhatia inviting you to tune in for the next round of "Applause."
(music "Symphony No.
36" "Linz") (bright music) - [Announcer] Production of "Applause" on Ideastream Public Media is made possible by the John P. Murphy Foundation, the Kulas Foundation, and by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.