van Bergen Studios
Frans G. van Bergen (1913-1989)

Born on October 11, 1913, in Maastricht, a small city in the southernmost tip of The Netherlands, bordered by Belgium and Germany, Frans van Bergen came from a long line of artists. Following six years of study, he graduated from the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, followed by an internship at the Art Academy in Antwerp, Belgium.  While at the Jan van Eyck Academy, van Bergen met an artist student named Gertrude, who would later become his wife.

After completing his studies at the academies, van Bergen interned with some of Holland’s foremost artists of the 1930s.  He maintained studios with artist friends in Maastricht and Antwerp. During the German Occupation of WWII, he was forced to move his studio underground.

After the war, van Bergen continued to work as a commercial artist in Germany and Belgium producing art for World Fairs in Brussels, Frankfurt, Utrecht and Amsterdam.  It was during these early years after the war that he married Gertrude.

A return visit to Maastricht by Gertrude’s sister, a war bride would make a major change in the van Bergen’s family life.  Touting the opportunities in the United States, the sister convinced the van Bergen’s to move to the United States.

In November of 1956, the van Bergen’s arrived in Atlanta, Georgia.  During his time in Atlanta, van Bergen presented a one man show at Atlanta’s High Museum and was awarded second place at the Fine Arts Festival in Marietta, Georgia.  He was offered membership in the elite, former Atlanta Art Association, now known as the Atlanta Art Alliance.

Site of van Bergen’s early studio
Helpoort, Maastricht

Helport Maastrct Close-up 

Van Bergen’s works have won awards in The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, as well as here in the United States.  His paintings have been selected by nationally known art critics including:

H. H. Armason of the Guggenheim Foundation, New York; Adelyn Breeskin, former director of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art; Dorothy C. Miller of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Edward Bryant, curator of the Whitney Museum of New York; Dr. Reginald Poland, former director of the Atlanta Art Association and High Museum; C. V. Donovan, director emeritus, of the Kramert Art Museum in Illinois.

His works have also been presented at invitational exhibits at the Servite Art International, Riverside, California; the National Religious Art Exhibition in Michigan; Art on Paper at the Weatherspoon Gallery in Greensboro, North Carolina.

He has exhibited in the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina; the Contemporary Gallery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia; the Lugio Duncan Gallery in New York, New York; the Weatherspoon Gallery in Greensboro, North Carolina; the State Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Museum of Fine Art in Montgomery, Alabama; and in major art galleries throughout the United States.

It was van Bergen’s interest in stained glass that led to another move for the artist and his family.  He joined Laws Stained Glass Company, in Statesville, North Carolina as their designer of religious stained glass windows.  The family embraced the Statesville community and van Bergen’s reputation began to grow through his works with paintings for private collectors, his art classes and eventually leading to commissioned public works.

Within one year after arriving in Statesville, van Bergen was named as the first curator for the newly formed Statesville Arts and Science Museum, now known as Iredell Museums.  During his tenure with the museum, van Bergen continued to build his presence in the public and art communities.

Van Bergen was commissioned to paint murals for the Statesville City Hall Council Chambers, the Mitchell Community College Library, the Statesville City Club, and Davis Hospital.  His “Don Quixote” painting hangs in the North Carolina School of the Arts, a “Madonna and Child” is displayed in the Roman Catholic Church Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina Bishop’s residence.  Another “Madonna and Child” hangs in Mercy Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

As a stained glass window designer and painter, he executed windows in Europe and in the southeastern United States.  Perhaps his most ambitious work is a stained glass window for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Cherokee, North Carolina which measures thirty-six by thirty-two feet.  His glass mosaics remain popular for use in private homes.

Van Bergen retired from the Arts and Science Museum in 1974; however he remained very active painting portraits, images of historical landmarks, stained glass design and providing restorations for collectors and surrounding museums.  In 1978 he was commissioned to paint four historical paintings for the City of Statesville which now hang in City Hall.

Frans van Bergen died on June 15, 1989 in Statesville.  His former employer, C.A. Laws of Laws Stained Glass Company, once said “an artist puts into a picture what a preacher puts into words.”

Frans G. van Bergen (circa 1960)

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
Cherokee, NC

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