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Popes and Patrons: How the Church Learned to Invest in Beauty

  • Xavier College Preparatory, Performing Arts Center 4710 N 5th St Phoenix, AZ 85012 (map)

The Arizona Patrons are pleased to welcome:

Dr. Elizabeth Lev

"If you think art history is boring, you've never heard Liz Lev!"

The Arizona Patrons are very excited to welcome Dr. Elizabeth Lev to the Valley. Watch the brilliant TED Talk she recently delivered in Geneva here.

From the TED site: “Art historian Elizabeth Lev became captivated by Rome while completing her graduate studies. She writes and lectures on Renaissance art in the Eternal City, but is most at home in the Vatican Museums, founded in the 16th century to house the trove of art amassed by centuries of Popes.”

Please plan to attend and bring a friend who would like to learn more about Vatican art and about the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums!

 RSVP is required - please register here by Tuesday, August 30th.

Program for the Evening

  • Art show featuring local Catholic artists: Performing Arts Center Foyer (bios below)
  • About the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums
  • Special Guest Introduction: Ruth Stricklin, Sacred Muralist
  • Presentation by Dr. Lev
  • Reception with light refreshments (Alumni Courtyard)

Speaker Biography

Elizabeth Lev studied art history at the University of Chicago, and in 1989 moved to Italy to complete her graduate work at the University of Bologna. She has lived in Italy ever since. Elizabeth teaches Art History at Duquesne University’s Italian campus since 2002, and also lectures at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas.

Lev served as a consultant on art and faith for the Vatican Museums, for whom she authored the film Vatican Treasures: Art and Faith, wrote a course on the history of the museums for Vatican guides, and co-curated an exhibition for World Youth Day called “A Body for Glory,” which was released as a book in 2014. She also wrote and hosted the ten-part series Catholic Canvas on EWTN, and has been a consultant for the History Channel.

Her articles have appeared in, among others, First Things, The College Art Association, and The Sacred Art Journal, and she writes regular art essays for Magnificat. Lev’s books include Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches (co-authored with George Weigel).

 Artist Biographies

Brenda Fox – Iconographer

Brenda began writing icons in 2003 and began teaching in 2010. She combines 20 years of expertise as a Board Certified Art Therapist into her teaching of iconography retreats. Brenda has taught iconography retreats in Louisiana Texas, Arizona and soon to be Colorado. She has studied under several Russian Iconographer Masters. A convert to the Catholic faith, she finds the history of the church to be rich in tradition, especially its art. Check out her website at:

Karen Bennett

Karen is a decorative artist and muralist of 30 years plus specializing in Trompe-l'œil and faux painting. Her art work can be seen in the dome of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Tempe, Arizona. She. She holds a BFA in Painting and Drawing from ASU.


Linda Chavez, Artist 

Linda Chavez is an award-winning Arizona artist who has been featured in a CNN documentary about the production of the Sunnyside Mural in Flagstaff, which involved coordination efforts between community members and local schools. She also worked with 50 visiting artists from around the world for the Northern Arizona University “Art Clay Stomp.” Her work is featured in the permanent collection at NAU. She is a member of the fine arts faculty at South Mountain High School in Phoenix.

 Bertica García Dubus

Bertica García Dubus was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She began her art at Saint Dominic College in St. Charles, Illinois, where she received her B.A. degree in Fine Arts. There, she was most attracted to the Classical/Realistic style of oil painting, which she has continued to explore and personalize.

Upon graduating she continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Bertica considers herself blessed to have had the opportunity to develop a trained eye and hopes that through her works others will come to see and appreciate the beauty and the goodness of God’s creation. On three occasions, her works won awards at the Bienal E. León Jiménes in Santiago, Dominican Republic, perhaps that country’s most prestigious juried art exposition. In 2006 she was commissioned by the Diocese of Phoenix to paint the Holy Family; this work now hangs at the Pastoral Center foyer. She is presently teaching art at St. Theresa Catholic School in Phoenix.

Banni Hughes 

Banni Hughes was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, in the heart of "Cajun Country". Her early education was completed in a 100-year-old convent, nestled amidst ancient oak trees, lush rose gardens and candle lit chapels. Banni holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master’s of Science in Engineering from the University of Arizona.

Banni began painting over 15 years ago to fulfil the desire for more beauty in her life. Her initial goal was to make her own home more beautiful by hanging her own paintings.

The common theme underlying all of Banni's work is a deep appreciation for God's gifts in both the material and the spiritual world, expressed through the bold, brilliant and luscious colors that are common throughout her paintings. At the same time, she hopes to convey, at a deeper, symbolic level, the majesty, excitement and beauty of the Christian experience.

 Carmen E. de Bartholomew

Carmen E. de Bartholomew was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and was exposed to art and sculpture by her artistic family from a young age. She studied at "Escuela de Bellas Artes", focusing on pastels, pencils, and charcoal on paper, and holds an Interior Design degree from Centro Artístico Educacional in Caracas and a degree in Business Administration from The University of Phoenix.

Carmen has worked in with oils and acrylics, with subject matter ranging from colonial buildings and sceneries inspired by old photographs. As an artist, her intention is to create a piece of art that brings joyful memories to the viewer.

 Eileen Spenla

Eileen is a free-lance artist, with pursuits in calligraphy, Illustrated Word, pastels and acrylics of landscapes and people. She holds a BFA in Illustration and Design from Northern Arizona University, and taught art at Tempe Preparatory School for 16 years.


Nancy Mills

Nancy Mills is a Mixed Media artist, who loves to share the gift of art with others by creating one of a kind pieces that encourage, empower and celebrate the big and little things in life. She calls herself an “artist, encourager and eternal optimist.”

Download the event flyer here.