Monday, 11 December 2017

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Where Are They Now? Bible restorer Rick Monroe adds color

Rick Monroe is shown here with some of the books from his collection (a set of Matthew Henry's Works on the Bible) and one of his paintings, titled “Communion.” Monroe recently resumed his passion for painting and finds that he's able to combine book restoration with art and use them both to connect with people he meets. (Photo by Brad Carlson)

By Brad Carlson

Editor's note: Rick Monroe and his collection of antique Bibles were originally featured in the January/February 2015 issue of Christian Living. Contributor Brad Carlson visited Monroe to see what's new.

The inspiration Rick Monroe sought by moving to Idaho from Texas a few years back is evident in the form of all those historic Bibles and Christian texts he has restored.

But the good feelings recently started flowing even more strongly for the Kuna resident. He picked up his paintbrushes in the second half of 2016, resuming a craft he once pursued enthusiastically.

Painting pictures gives Monroe an additional outlet for expression and the opportunity to reach out more broadly with his Christian message.

“In some sense, it opens the door always to share the Gospel with others,” he said.

Now, someone who brings in a book for restoration may also see one of Monroe’s paintings. And someone viewing a painting may show interest in the historic books he collects and restores. Customers of his niche automotive business, through which he restores classic stainless and aluminum trim, can be exposed to Bibles and historic Christian texts, or to his paintings.

Monroe has shown up at auto swap meets, Bibles and Christian volumes in hand. The books have drawn some curious looks and some life-changing realizations.

“There have been times on several occasions when people have been brought to tears at auto swap meets,” he said.

“And now my wife, Janice, and the kids are happy to see my paintings hanging on the wall inour home,” Monroe said.

Over time, the painting / book restoration combination could fuel an overall increase in creative energy while creating opportunities for future projects, he said.

Monroe around 1999 painted “Communion,” depicting a vision he had before moving back to his native Oregon from Michigan, where he had lived for about five years. It’s on display in the Westland, Mich., church where he began his Christian walk in 1988. Now he’s sharing the story behind it and seeking people who would like to acquire a reproduction on canvas, in various sizes.

“I will use a process of putting a clear-brushed finish onto the piece, creating what will appear as an original painting,” he said. “And I will number and sign each one.”

Recent paintings depict waterfalls, and open, mountainous landscapes. He also enjoys seascapes. His painting, “Fall at Indian Creek,” can be seen at Kuna City Hall. (View projects and read details on Facebook at Rick Monroe: Art and Antiquarian Work.)

Book-wise, he has been busy. He recently restored a Matthew Henry folio set of biblical commentaries from 1737. He used leather from an old sofa to re-cover the five big volumes (Matthew Henry’s Works on the Bible, fourth edition, unabridged) whose page boards and spinewere in good condition.

“I took great pains to give them a very aged look even though the leather is not period leather,” said Monroe, who uses period leather when he can find it. The sofa leather also was used to cover two other books: John Taylor's Paraphrase with Notes on the Epistle to the Romans (1769) and James Durham's Commentary Upon the Book of the Revelation (1689).

Monroe also finished re-backing a 1704 folio of The Complete Works of the Author of the Whole Duty of Man by Richard Allestree. He used period leather and linen cloth to reattach the boards.

He owns a 1716 Isaac Barrow folio featuring period leather. A current project is to restore a folio of the works of John Tillotson, Containing Fifty Four Sermons and Discourses ... Together with the Rule of Faith, using leather from the Barrow folio. The Tillotson work had a famous previous owner.

Monroe plans to in turn cover the Barrow folio with same leather used for the Henry set’s restoration.

As for combining painting with the book restoration hobby he pursued starting about six years ago, “the creative parts of what I’m doing go hand-in-hand,” Monroe said.

Brad Carlson is a Treasure Valley freelance writer.

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