Heinz Demes was born 1943, in West Germany. In his youth he showed great artistic talent and was able to study with Gustav Behre and Adam Wolf, two renowned German landscape and portrait painters. 1958-61 Heinz apprenticed in Window Display and Design, the art of decorating lavish department store windows.After many years of serving as an altar boy in the Limburg Cathedral, 1961 Heinz entered Maria Laach Monastery with the intention of spending the rest of his earthly life as a Benedictine monk. Here he had the opportunity to study gold smithing, enameling, and mosaic work. After a year he realized his was not the destiny to live as a monk and he rejoined the life he left behind.
Heinz again worked in window display and took courses in drawing and calligraphy. By 1963 he entered the glass art academy (Glasfachschule) at Hadamar, West Germany. He supported himself by drumming professionally in a rock band and through scholarships. At the academy, after trying various types of glass art, he eventually concentrated on stained glass design, but also learned the techniques and skills of stained glass assembly, a separate but related program. Because of Heinz’ extensive art training he was allowed to study with the master class of stained glass design, and served as assistant teacher in geometry classes.
During one summer break Heinz painted stained glass windows for Sussmuth, an extensive glass manufacturer who also specialized in stained glass windows for churches throughout Europe. At Sussmuth he also trained in window installation, assisting in the installation of gothic windows in a church in Hesse, Germany. On another break he worked for Lambert Glass Manufacturers where he learned the basics of manufacturing mouth blown glass and chemical compositions for glass colors.
The Hadamar glass academy also arranged trips to France, Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Austria, and the better part of West Germany to see the classic stained glass of the churches of Europe. On a cathedral trip they visited the great cathedrals of Chartres, Leon, Paris, Reims, Rouen, and Strasburg.
Highlights of Heinz work at the academy include: reproduction of stained glass windows for the Cologne Cathedral, and designing a 30 x 10 foot, semicircular window for the Sisters of Pallotte Convent, Swalbenstein, West Germany.
In 1965 Heinz graduated from the academy and emigrated to the U.S. to work as a stained glass designer for the famed Dohmen Studios in St. Paul Minnesota. He designed glass and mosaic for many new churches and enjoyed restoration work done on many old stained glass windows invarious churches. His work took him to Iowa, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois. During this time he worked on the largest stained glass windows (96’ tall) in the western world (at the time) at Valpariso University, Indiana, as well as a 104 foot mosaic in Esterville, Iowa. His largest commission was to design and install a large (33’ x 27’) resurrection window for a church in Madison, Wisconsin.
In 1967 Heinz returned to Germany and married. In 1968 they immigrated to Montreal, Quebec where Heinz worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company as visual presentation designer. There he began exhibiting and selling his surrealistic paintings. In 1970 Heinz was transferred to Calgary and promoted to Regional Display Manager for Hudson’s Bay. He began exhibiting and selling his work in many places including: the Pumphouse Theatre, community displays, galleries, Community Television, 7th Avenue, and SAIT. In 1973 he began painting and creating stained glass full time, as well as returning to the Hadamar academy to study in a short course in new glass trends and techniques. Heinz taught the basics of stained glass in the Calgary Adult Educational Program (evening classes) for three years, teaching the Tiffany Style of stained glass.
Due to his wife’s poor health Heinz moved in 1975 to the Crowsnest Pass. As time progressed her health failed and Heinz created less and less art. 1981 Heinz became shop supervisor in a sheltered workshop for mentally handicapped adults. After a long illness his wife passed away.
In 1986 Heinz remarried and once again began to paint in earnest. He began with “The Planets,” a series of seven whimsical oil paintings inspired by the music of Gustav Holst using the mythical symbolism to interpret each. He continued in a style he calls “Fantasy Landscape” which encompasses the themes of medieval history as well as a touch of playfulness.
Heinz work in stained glass also continued as he created a beautiful variety of small commission pieces. As demand for his work continued, his wife encouraged him to return full time to stained glass, the art of his training.
In 1993 Heinz and Patricia Demes established Demes Art Glass Studios in Beaver Mines, Alberta. Kilns were purchased, special glass paints procured, and brushes bought. Heinz was back to creating stained glass in the same tradition as was used by stained glass masters for centuries; with a few modern improvements.
The first major work for Heinz in Canada was for Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Lethbridge, Alberta (1996). In a year, over 650 square feet of glass was created telling stories of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Baptism of Christ, Jesus and the Children, the Annunciation, Day of Pentecost, Garden of Gethsemane, Woman at the Well, Presentation in the Temple, and the Wedding at Cana.
Another is the Resurrection Window for St. Michael’s Church in Pincher Creek, Alberta. The 375 square foot window has nine figures including the central figure of the Savior and is created using the ancient techniques of painting on glass, plus the beauty of modern opaque glass.
To date some of his major projects are: Chapel Windows, Pincher Creek Hospital; Chapel Windows, Lethbridge Health Center; Resurrection, Holy Family, Sacred Heart Windows, St. Catherine’s, Picture Butte; Mother, Son, Teacher Windows, La Familia Project, Genola, Utah; Rose, St. Anne, St. Teresa, Altar, and Entrance Windows, Holy Trinity Church, Crowsnest Pass, Alberta; Donor Wall, Cardston Hospital; Holy Mother, Savior, St. Mary’s Anglican, Lethbridge Alberta; St. Michael, St. Michael’s School, Pincher Creek, Alberta; Chapel windows for Pincher Creek, Medicine Hat, Evanburg, Lethbridge, Hinton, Penticton, West Lethbridge, and Rocky Mountain House Good Samaritan Society, Extended Care Centers. Too numerous to mention are the private installations and gallery pieces.