In this tradition 100 years is the blink of an eye.
Atlanta's St. Luke's Episcopal Church has restored "The Good Shepherd," a giant canvas by E. H. Blashfield, the artist who did the domed ceiling of the main reading room of the Library of Congress. Before they took the scaffolds down, St. Luke's invited parishioners to see it up close and up high from the scaffolding. Thanks to Bobby Mays who invited Trip Cook and me for a once in a lifetime experience.
It's a canvas "pasted" to the wall. I loved that the restoration of this hundred year old mural and 2014 Living Walls Conference were happening at the same time.
Restoration by IFACS International Fine Art Conservation Studios. They worked 12-hour days for two weeks. Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.
As you walk into the sanctuary, The Good Shepherd seems ancient in muted colors. It's the calm focal point above the alter amid the glorious windows. My photo from an earlier visit.
How big is it? How high. Perhaps twice life size? I forget to ask. In my reverie I forgot to ask everything.
I'm not a high scaffolding person. Nope. But I was going up. My photo.
Mental note: Identify your assistants. My photo.
Cleaning revealed that the Good Shepherd's feet are in foam at the water's edge. My photo.
Distorted at eye level, but right when viewed from below. My photo.
From the scaffold I felt as if I was in the mural but separate and small. It was in my face. How does the artist manage the distorted up-close view?. Artists figured this out a few thousand years ago, mastered it in the Renaissance. It's an ancient tradition. My photo.
Up here the scaffolding rocked, like being on a floating dock in the waves. Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.
How long to stay up there? My brain and body were floating. I felt a claustrophobia of being so close to the giant painting. The working lights were good for the artists, but glared through my cataracts.
But I could turn around.
To see this. Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.
The cleaning uncovered more sheep. My photo.
Doves. My photo.
Angels galore. My photo
Angel in a frock. My photo.
The angels in the arches aren't quite so finely rendered. My photo.
What is she holding? My photo.
By now I was lost in the experience, running out of time, knowing this was my one time up there.
Pardon the poor focus. My photo.
Who modeled these angels? Do they appear just the same in other murals? My photo.
I need to catch my breath before I show you a few more details.
Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.
The restoration includes relighting from below. It will be seen as never before.
The whole flock. My photo.
I couldn't stay long enough. As simple and as straightforward as it is, there's no way of "getting it." My picture.
Climbing down was like stepping off the dock onto solid ground.
What a room. Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.
I understand that after the lighting is complete the restorers will return to discuss the mural and the restoration. I hope to go.
Thanks Bobby, Tripp and St. Lukes.
P.S. The 2014 Living Walls mural most in this tradition is by Spanish artist Borondo.
Borondo's #lw2014 mural faces west on Jesse Hill between Edgewood and Auburn. It faces the John Lewis mural. It's just 8 blocks south of St. Lukes'
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