For most Chicago Catholics, it might be difficult to travel to Italy in order to see breathtaking Catholic artwork. However, there's an alternate to doing so and it can be found in our own backyard. Look no further to Brookfield, Illinois, where you can find Catholic artist Patrick Rankin. Known around Chicagoland as the “Michelangelo of Brookfield”, Patrick is a treasure to the Chicago Catholics and many local parishes employ his talents.
Like the more famous renaissance artist, Patrick Rankin excels in many types of artwork – including numerous examples of oil painting – but his real passion is for sculpture. He has often been called upon to restore many famous statues in Chicago churches that have become damaged or worn. Rankin's first marble repair job was requested by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin for Holy Name Cathedral (he also painted the symbols of the four evangelists that are on the cathedral’s ceiling). He is known around Chicago as the go-to guy when there is a crisis with an important work of art needing professional repair. For example, a church near Woodstock, Illinois had its Holy Family statue damaged by a malevolent teen with a sledge hammer. After Rankin's restoration work, it now looks like new.
In recent years, Rankin was responsible for the repairing, sanding, patching and sealing of the outdoor Marian statue at Queen of Martyrs Church in Evergreen Park, Illinois. Among his other works, he's also created the whimsical statues outside St. Kieran Church in Chicago Heights, Illinois (they are titled “Jesus Calling the Children”), the mosaics at the shrine at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview, Illinois; and the master drawings for stained glass windows like those at Sacred Heart Church in Palos Hills, Illinois. Patrick Rankin is clearly a man of many talents.
Rankin's most famous work is perhaps “Last Breath”, a sculpture of the crucified Christ that was commissioned by the late Fr. Bill Eddy for his private prayer room. To work as an artist full time, Rankin also does non-religious commercial projects as well. Rankin lets his professional talents do the talking to promote his career, noting that he doesn't advertise . He once stated: “Word of mouth is all I ever used and this has taken me exciting places introducing me to some incredible people all over the world”. His career began as “a teen in a basement in Brookfield”, and he recently returned there after 20 years to work out of his hometown.
Patrick Rankin's impact on the Chicagoland area demonstrates the many surprises that God has in store for us. Sometimes the most amazing things are right under our nose, but we don't see them or take time to appreciate them. If you're curious about Patrick Rankin or would like to learn more about his career and artwork, you can visit his website at http://patrankinartist.com/#portfoliocolumns or call him personally at (708) 870-0977.
In any case, here's my modest little column to give the artist his due. Let's thank one of Chicago's own. Here's to you, Patrick Rankin, the Michelangelo of Brookfield.