The Peace Window Doc features Jim Murphy Master Craftsman and Lifer Skateboarder

Jim Murphy is a skateboarder and has been for most of his life. From his early years in New Jersey skating the Fort Monmouth Ramp with Hartsel, Herring, Constable and the crew to the heydays of Cherry Hill Skatepark to the wild days of turning pro and riding for Zorlac and Alva and through the lean years of vert skating at the Farm Ramp in the Carolinas and then making his way north again to NYC where he became the Skate Editor of Juice Magazine and founded Wounded Knee Skateboards with Andy Kessler, Murf has stayed true to his passion for skateboarding. His good works have continued through the years as he poured his efforts into the Stronghold Society with Walt Pourier in order to build skateparks for kids on Native American reservations, and provide the kids with quality skateboards to ride. 

At the same time, Jim Murphy is also a master craftsman and has dedicated himself to a unique and vital aspect of the preservation of history through his work at Venturella Studio. Since 1996, Jim has spent every week day and many weekends meticulously restoring exquisite stained glass Tiffany masterpieces. His work is detailed and specific and the skills he has developed are rare and valuable beyond description. In fact, one of the projects he recently worked on is called The Peace Window and is a centerpiece of the works of art at the Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago and its restoration is now the subject of a new documentary. 

The 1903 Peace Window is 16 feet tall, 8 ½ feet wide, and made of about 7,500 individual pieces of glass.  Each one of those pieces were made by Tiffany Studios, and had to be individually cleaned and the entire window re-leaded. The window has eight siblings at Second Presbyterian, all with the same Tiffany pedigree. The Peace Window is named for the angel at the center of the design holding a banner with the word “Peace” on it.

As Murf says, “All of the windows I’ve worked on that are Tiffany are just masterpieces. You take a leap of faith because you’re building something that has 12,000 pieces and if there’s anything that’s off by an eighth or sixteenth, here or there, it’s going to effect every other piece of glass on that network. I just get on a roll and my body takes over and it’s like “Look. Don’t freak out. We know what we’re doing here. Just do it, man.” You’re along for the ride and your hands are just doing this and you watch your hands and you’re like, “Yeah. Okay. This is working. You work and work and you clean. You get one panel done and you put it up and you look at the before shots and the after shots and you’re like “Wow! This is going to be amazing installed.”

As Tom Venturella, founder of Venturella Studio, explains, “As a custodian of our heritage, it’s my job to make sure that these things that have been given to us pass on to the next generation as originally intended as possible. These are beautiful things that you really need to hold on to. It’s the lifeblood of who we are. It’s statements of who we are as people and of what we can do and what we can contribute to society through our art form. Those are the gems we have to pass on.”

The Second Presbyterian Church is a “Chicago architectural gem dating to 1874. Architect James Renwick designed the Gothic Revival exterior and Howard Van Doren Shaw and Frederic Clay Bartlett redesigned the interior in the Arts and Crafts style in 1901. Stunning memorial windows made by William Morris & Company, Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, Tiffany Studios, McCully & Miles, and Louis J. Millet enhance the Church’s interior. Original Bartlett murals, light fixtures and 175 angels grace the space.”

Thanks to the Friends of the Historic Second Church organization for its support and commitment to this important restoration project of the significant collection of memorial windows at Second Presbyterian Church of Chicago, the only church in the city to be individually listed as a National Historic Landmark. Learn more about their work by visiting, https://www.historicsecondchurch.org/

“The Peace Window” documentary, which explores the ongoing restoration of this landmark art form, is being made by Mark Loucks who specializes in short-form documentaries and whose clients include: Spotify, Rolling Stone, MTV, CBS, Discovery, Vevo, Fuse, VH1, and and Nickelodeon. He also had the pleasure of going on tour with Rihanna. Learn more about Loucks’ filmmaking and this upcoming documentary at www.looksee-films.com

The VENTURELLA STUDIO was established in 1985, specializing in conservation and restoration of historical stained glass from Medieval Europe to Twentieth century America.  To learn more about Venturella Studio, and the work of Tom Venturella and Jim Murphy, please visit http://www.venturellastudio.com/about/

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