Artist completes portrait of minister begun in '60s

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 7, 2014 

artis vaughan church painting berkeley

Artis Vaughan of Kennewick will help celebrate Northbrae Community Church's centennial by presenting the Berkeley church with a painting of the late Rev. Laurance Cross, who officiated the marriage between Vaughan and her husband Burt.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

The portrait of the minister who married Artis and Burt Vaughan of Richland remained unfinished for decades.

Artis, an accomplished painter whose work has been featured in several invitational and juried shows up and down the West Coast, began the portrait of Laurance Cross in the mid-'60s, about 15 years after he married the couple in California on Jan. 30, 1949.

"I ... had completed his likeness, robed, and standing before his beloved stained glass window," Artis said. "The design of that window with its rainbow symbolized his understanding of God."

But Cross died in 1966 and she never finished it.

So when the couple moved to the Tri-Cities in 1969, the unfinished painting was tucked away in Artis' studio.

When the Vaughans learned the Northbrae Community Church in Berkeley, Calif., was celebrating its 100th anniversary, Artis decided to finish the portrait of Cross and give it to the church.

"I had wanted to finish this painting for a long time because Burt and I met through the church, were married by Laurance Cross and our children were christened by him," she said.

The church is celebrating its centennial this weekend and Artis and her niece were en route from the Tri-Cities for the event Friday.

Ruth Brayton, co-chairwoman of the church's centennial committee, called Artis' portrait a "perfect gift for a centennial."

Brayton, a member of the church since 1992, said Cross was an unforgettable minister who left a remarkable legacy as he led the progressive church from 1924-66.

"He was very much beloved here," she said. "It was clear that she and her husband were greatly affected by this man."

The portrait will be unveiled to the congregation during a centennial banquet scheduled for tonight.

w Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;; Twitter: @dorioneal

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