Paintings of St. Bernard Catholic Church made available to public

News Photo by Diane Speer Gerri LeFave of Alpena and Marana, Ariz., stands beside her painting of St. Bernard Catholic Church that is now available for purchase at Olivet Book & Gift. Proceeds from sales go to All Saints School.

Gerri LeFave remembers always liking to dabble in art, but as co-owner for many years of LeFave Pharmacy in Alpena, along with her husband, Jim, she never had much time to devote to a hobby. After retiring from the business and moving to Marana, Ariz., for part of the year, she finally found herself able to develop her skills and paint more regularly.

Ultimately, others began to recognize her talent, including last year when she was asked to create a painting of St. Bernard Catholic Church for a momentous occasion – the June 3, 2016 ordination of Archbishop Paul Russell as Archbishop of Turkey.

“I was asked to paint the church for him as a gift,” said Gerri.

The request was especially meaningful for the LeFaves as Russell grew up in that same church in Alpena, and he as never forgotten his roots. The couple was even among a contingent from the local area who flew to Boston, Mass., to witness Russell’s ordination.

At the time, Gerri copyrighted her painting of St. Bernard’s and had 100 copies made with the original presented to Russell. She’s already sold nearly 50 of the paintings, with additional copies now available for sale at Olivet Book & Gift in downtown Alpena. Proceeds from sales go to support All Saints Catholic School.

The paintings are $45 for an 8×10 or $50 for a 11×14. The image also has been made into greeting cards available for $8 per three-pack.

Self-taught, Gerri initially worked from a photograph of the church in creating her painting of St. Bernard’s.

“Then I drew the draft on a large paper, then on watercolor paper with watercolors,” she said. “It took a couple of weeks just to scale draw and get it on paper the way I wanted, then a couple of weeks to paint.”

Besides churches, of which she’s painted several others including St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Gerri also likes to paint Southwest pots, dogs and other animals. She’s sold a number of her other pieces, many of them while wintering in Arizona.

“In the clubhouse where we live, there are a couple of boards to hang up paintings. I’ve put my work there and it’s sold,” Gerri said.

For more information on Gerri’s artwork, she may be reached via email at