It is with a heavy heart that I have to make the following announcement.
Helen's beloved Josef Mahler passed away this morning, Sunday May 1, 2022. After a long illness he decided it was time to go to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
He asked that you not be sad for him, but to remember him with joy and laughter. Please keep his wife Helga and family in your thoughts and prayers.
Helen will never be the same with Josef's passing, but his memory will be with us always. His beautiful artwork is displayed throughout the city and the Festhalle. Everyone who knew Josef thought the world of him and loved him.
We have truly lost a treasure and a wonderful man of God.
Below the Chamber post honoring Josef in June of last year, is a special message from Josef that he wanted to leave to all of his friends whom he loved.
HONORING JOSEF MAHLER June 2021
Born in Wurzburg Germany in 1938 he was the tenth of eleven children. Josef was 12 years old when he discovered art. There was a Benedictine Monastery in his neighborhood. One of the monks began teaching him how to draw and realized Josef's natural talent and encouraged further art training.
By 1952 Josef received an art scholarship at the art school Knutst-und Handwerker Schule. He was the youngest student to have received a scholarship. Receiving this scholarship meant that he must work harder and be better than those with paid enrollment.
In 1957 Josef received a degree in commercial art and graphic design, he then studied religious art at the Franciscan Eremitage near Regensburg, Germany.
Josef said that you can never know enough so he continued his education beyond drawing and painting. He then became well versed in murals, mosaics, stucco and plaster artwork. Using stucco and plaster he has created three dimensional art. He is also gifted in ceramic and stained glass art. His talent has won him numerous awards.
In 1983 Josef and his lovely wife Helga along with their three beautiful daughters immigrated to Cape Coral, Florida.
In 1997 they discovered property in Sautee, GA that reminded them of their beloved Bavaria, so they packed up and moved to Sautee. Josef and Helga built their two story home by hand along with many pieces of furniture. The art studio is on the first floor with living quarters on the second floor. Their home is an art gallery within itself, boasting a beautiful mural of their homeland on the living room ceiling.
Josef's artwork can be viewed around the world as well as locally. Just a few locations to mention are:
Rosary Chapel in Schwarzach, Germany
St. Leo Church in Inwood, WV
St. Mark Church in Clarkesville, GA
St. Paul the Apostle Church in Cleveland, GA and of course at the Helen Festhalle and Hofers Bakery Helen, GA.
At St. Marks entrance is the 9 foot by 17 foot mural he painted. His artwork is featured in the book "The Archdiocese of Atlanta: A History".
Another mural he has done is one showing the destruction of the Berlin wall.
In 2003 Josef became the official artist for the Helen Chamber of Commerce Festhalle. Each year he submits a few design options for the official Oktoberfest posters, steins and hat pins. The Board of Directors then choose the official one for Oktoberfest. Many merchants in town design and sell their own hat pins for Oktoberfest however, only the official Oktoberfest steins and hat pins can be purchased at the Festhalle during Oktoberfest. If your hat pin doesn't match the Oktoberfest poster, it is not an official Helen Oktoberfest pin.
In 2014 not wanting to destroy the existing Festhalle murals, he constructed a new wall in front of the existing murals. Josef then proceeded with painting the current murals seen in the Festhalle today.
During Oktoberfest on October 26, 2018, Josef and Helga arrived late at the Festhalle which is unusual for them. The reason for the late arrival was they were returning from a special trip to Atlanta where they took their oaths to become US citizens. It was a special evening for all in attendance where we took time to honor them.
Thank you Josef and Helga for making the Helen Festhalle so special for us all to enjoy.