CROWN - Croatian World Network -
In Loving Memory of Joseph Turkaly, 1924-2007
By Prof.Dr. Darko Zubrinic
Published on 12/30/2007
The Turkaly Art Gallery provides a beautiful collection of works of art of Josip Turkalj, outstanding Croatian artist in the USA. In 1999 he received the "Presidential Award for the Advancement of Croatian Culture", an award bestowed on him by the Government of Croatia.

Recipient of Presidential Award for the Advancement of Croatian Culture

The Conductor Piano Pianissimo, 1991

Our Lady of Bistrica, National Shrine, Washington, D.C., 1970

Joseph Turkaly was born in 1924 in Croatia, the eldest of three sons. At the age of six he witnessed a bust of a local hero being installed in the town square where he grew up. This seemingly innocent event stoked the interest of the young boy, which would later turn out to be a lifelong passion. This school-aged child modeled a small horse out of clay and presented it to his teacher who immediately recognized his talent. With her encouragement and the support of his family, he attended a high school of the fine arts in Zagreb.

After World War II, Joseph Turkaly continued his education at the Fine Arts Academy in Zagreb, Croatia. In 1952, he traveled to Italy as a student and decided that he would continue his studies in the birthplace of Renaissance art. In Rome he was accepted to the Fine arts Academy, where he received his Master's degree in 1954. That year he won first prize for sculpture at National Students Exhibition in Milan, Italy.

After seeing his works, world-renowned sculptor, Ivan Meštrović, offered Joseph Turkaly a position as his assistant at the University of Notre Dame in 1957. After Ivan Meštrović's death in 1962, Joseph took over his teaching position at the University, where he taught sculpting for the next two years.

In 1965, he moved to Cleveland. Here he accepted a teaching assignment at Gilmour Academy. At the time the high school had no art department and Joseph Turkaly laid the foundation of a new curricular option. The department steadily grew under his guidance and received many accolades from state accreditation committees.

Throughout Joseph's career as a teacher, he continued to be a prolific sculptor, commissioned to create many public and private works. Among them are Moses, an eighteen foot bronze on the campus of Notre Dame, George Washington, a nine foot bronze outside the County Courthouse in Buffalo, New York, Our Lady of Peace, and Our Lady of Bistrica, two seven foot marble pieces at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. He has works in public and private collections throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Croatia, and Argentina. His recent work, The Immigrant Mother, has been commissioned in limestone in Toronto, Canada, and bronze pieces have been installed in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Zagreb, Croatia, as well a one in front of Josephs home in Cleveland Heights.

Joseph Turkaly's pieces received many acclaims and awards. In addition to the award in Milan, he has also won the award for Best Garden Sculpture at a joint exhibition of the National Arts Club and The National Sculpture Society in 1961, and won the prestigious John Gregory award 1965, an award based on an artists entire portfolio of work. He has been a member of the National Sculpture Society since 1965 and has been elevated to Fellow in 1994. He has exhibited there, in New York, numerous times over the years. In 1999, he received the "Presidential Award for the Advancement of Croatian Culture", an award bestowed on him by the Government of Croatia.

Joseph Turkaly died in 2007.

Source of the text and all the photos:

Our Lady of Peace, National Shrine, Washington, D.C., 1970

St. Francis Assisi, 1965, Evansville, Indiana

Mother Teresa, 1990

Pope John Paul II, 1987

Moses (6m high), University of Notre Dame, Indiana, 1962

Vukovar 1991, Grieving Mother, 2000

George Washington, Buffalo, New York, 1977

The Immigrant Mother, 1985

Guslar, 1986

Please, go to the next page below.



In 2001, St. Joseph Parish added a unique piece of artwork to the entranceway of the church entitled "Joseph & The Children" by world famous sculptor Joseph Turkaly. The relief art depicts Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, working as a carpenter with three children, one of which is obviously Jesus as a boy. Not only does it hold particular meaning to St. Joseph Parish because it depicts its patron saint, but the inclusion of children represents the community's special fondness toward its school. During a presentation on October 7, 2001, Turkaly met with parishioners to talk about the piece and answer questions on how it was created. During his presentation, he described the painstaking process he went through to make this one-of-a-kind art piece.

First, he drew a sketch of the idea presented to him by Father Thomas McCarthy (pastor of St. Joseph's Sept. 1, 1994 - July 31, 2003).

Joseph Turkaly creating

After the drawing was approved, Turkaly made a clay model. A mold was then constructed with a process involving a thin rubber layer and several other layers. A substance called winterstone was poured into the mold, then allowed to cure, creating a very durable work of art that will withstand the test of time. With the assistance of his youngest of six sons, Tom, Turkaly then removed the outer layers to reveal the finished product. A coating of a special material was applied to create a patina similar to the greenish-blue color of aged copper. Then "Joseph & The Children" was attached to a black background for its final presentation at the parish. The piece was dedicated the weekend of August 4/5, 2001. Mounted in the covered entranceway in an alcove designed for the piece, "Joseph & The Children" is dedicated to the memory of parishioner Linda Kulka, who tragically died in an automobile accident on March 2, 1999. The brick entranceway was a project taken on by St. Joseph's Garden Club.

Turkaly, a quiet-spoken man, has been an artist since he was a boy growing up in Croatia. Learning his trade literally at his father's knee, the modest craftsman feels he was born to be an artist. He is known for his sculpture and religious painting, and has worked at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, with Ivan Mestrovic, one of Croatia's great sculptors, creating the 18-foot bronze statue of Moses in front of the university's library. His 9-foot figure of George Washington stands outside a Masonic lodge in Buffalo, NY, and two 7-foot marble statues - Our Lady of Peace and Our Lady of Bistrica - are on display at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Other works of art he has created are on display at the Croatian Cultural Center, at several Catholic churches in the Cleveland area, and in public and private collections throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Croatia and Argentina. Turkaly was a resident artist at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills from 1969 through 1991 and has seven works of art on display there.

Joseph Turkaly died July 4, 2007, leaving his wife of 47 years, Julia, sons Anthony, Andrew, John, Thomas, Peter, Paul, and four grandchildren. To view examples of Turkaly's art, visit



Click Here for the history behind this piece of artwork

(click on image to view full size photo)

Dedication of St. Joseph & the Children art relief
"Joseph & the Children"
August 4/5, 2001 Dedication

Dedication of St. Joseph & the Children relief work
"Joseph & the Children"
August 4/5, 2001 Dedication
Joseph & the Children
"Joseph & the Children"

Joseph & the Children
"Joseph & the Children"
Joseph Turkaly
Meet the Artist - October 7, 2001
Joseph Turkaly, Artist
"Joseph & the Children"

Fr. Tom & Joseph Turkaly
Meet the Artist - October 7, 2001
Joseph Turkaly, Artist
"Joseph & the Children"

Rev. Thomas McCarthy, Pastor

Source: photos of the August 4/5, 2001 Dedication and the October 7, 2001

...Ivan Meštrović, Croatia's greatest sculptor, was teaching at the University of Notre Dame when he advertised for an assistant. He hired Josip Turkalj who was 34 years old, bought him a ticket to America and gave him a job in 1957, as Meštrović's assistant at the University of Notre Dame which he held until 1962, when Ivan Meštrović died. ...

Joseph Turkalj came to Cleveland and took a position as a teacher of art and artist-in residence at Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills in 1969. He drew strength from the large Croatian apopulation here. He retired in 1989 after twenty years of work in Clevenalnd. Most of his large scuptures - about 25 pieces are in the United States and Canada. A few of  them are in Croatia.

Joseph Turkalj has had impressive exhibitions over the decades. He exhibited throughout the United States, at Madison Square Garden, in Indianopolis, Cleveland, Indiana, Detroit. Among his many awards are the Best Garden Sculpture (New York) and first prize for his sculpture "Arts and Music". ...

While his subjects very, his specialty by demand is religious works, from miniatures to pieces that stand 20 feet or higher. One of the largest, an 18-foot Moses, fronts the University of Notre Dame Libary.

Turkalj has reestablished his ties to Croatia after it became a sovereign state in 1992 and donated a sculpture of Juraj Frankopan, a Croatian historic figure to the city of Slunj in the region where Turkalj was born and which he visited in 1998.

He donated sculptures of the 14 stations of the cross to a church in Slunj destroyed during the Serbian occupation of the city.

As he has stated to a Plain Dealer reporter, "Working to create the religious sculptures destroyed when the Catholic churches were burned during the war gives me great pride and pleausre."

Source: Dr. Ivan Čizmić, Ivan Miletić, Dr. George J. Prpić, From the Adriatic to Lake Erie: A History of Croatians in Greater Cleveland, American Croatian Lodge, Inc. "Cardinal Stepinac", Eastlake, Ohio, Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, Croatia, 2000, pp 304-306.

We warmly recommend you this excellent book, which has 557 pp., illus. maps, notes, bibliography, and extensive index. The monograph is available from the:

American Lodge
P.O. Box 1060, Willoughby, Ohio 44094
telephone (440) 354-4125.

The main section of the book include chapters on:

  • The First Croatian Immigrants
  • Cleveland Croatians in the American Fraternal Movement
  • The Founding and Work of Croatian Ethnic Parishes and the Churches of St. Paul and St. Nicholas in Cleveland
  • Cultural Life and Ethnic Business
  • The American Labor Movement
  • Political Activities
  • The Difficult Years: 1941-1945
  • The Croatian Community from World War II to the Present
  • The Religous Life
  • Croatian Catholic Union
  • Culture and Education
  • Economic and Political Contributions
  • Croatians in Sport
  • Political Work After World War II
  • Croatians in Cleveland Work Towards the Establishment of a Sovereign Croatian State

For more information about the book see Croatian Genealogy Newsletter

Formated for CROWN by prof.dr. Darko Žubrinić
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