Friday, August 29, 2014

Restored: St. Luke's 1913 "Good Shepherd" mural by E. H. Blashfield

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.

P1070123-2011-01-18-St-Lukes-From-NarthexCharles-Higgs-at-Organ-VIDEOpreview
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.

IMG_0861 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
I'm not a high scaffolding person. Nope. But I was going up. My photo.

IMG_0854 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Mental note: Identify your assistants. My photo.

IMG_0850 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Cleaning revealed that the Good Shepherd's feet are in foam at the water's edge. My photo.

IMG_0855 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Distorted at eye level, but right when viewed from below. My photo.

IMG_0856 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
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.

IMG_0882 2014-08-22 Photo by Tripp Cook E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta Tripp TLF Photography
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.

IMG_0867 2014-08-22 Photo by Tripp Cook E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta Tripp TLF Photography
To see this. Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.

IMG_0832 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
The cleaning uncovered more sheep. My photo.

IMG_0833 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Doves. My photo.

IMG_0835 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Angels galore. My photo

IMG_0836 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Angel in a frock. My photo.

IMG_0837 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta 
My photo.

IMG_0838 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
The angels in the arches aren't quite so finely rendered. My photo.

IMG_0839 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
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.

IMG_0840 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
Pardon the poor focus. My photo.

IMG_0841 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
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.

IMG_0879 2014-08-22 Photo by Tripp Cook E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta Tripp TLF Photography
Photo by Tripp TLF Photography.

IMG_0844 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
The restoration includes relighting from below. It will be seen as never before.

IMG_0842 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
The whole flock. My photo.

IMG_0845 2014-08-21 E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta
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.

IMG_0945 2014-08-22 Photo by Tripp Cook E H Blashfield 1913 Good Shepherd Restoration St Lukes Episcopal Atlanta Tripp TLF Photography
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.

IMG_0465 2014-08-16 Saturday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 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'


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Wedding and a Movie in one of Atlanta's Great Spaces

Is there a more comfortable outdoor gathering place in Atlanta? A more comfortable indoor space? When  events end, folks linger.

It looks like a rock quarry but when you fill it with people...

 
Folks gather for the Living Walls Movie Night on August 14, 2014. It's the amphitheater on the retention pond of Historic Fourth Ward Park.

P1090103-2012-06-09-Erin-Craig-Kennedy-wedding-procession-Erin-arrives
My first visit was for Erin and Craig Kennedy's wedding on June 9, 2012.

P1090087-2012-06-09-Erin-Craig-Kennedy-wedding-DK-BL-KK-full
You can bring a chair, sit on the wall, on the grass, on a blanket. There's plenty of space to move around and hug your friends.T-shirts are perfect, white suits and summer dresses too.

P1090094-2012-06-09-Erin-Craig-Kennedy-wedding-crowd-gathers
As you approach, you can see in, see the whole place, see everybody. Once inside you can see folks approach. It has a definite, comprehensible shape. It feels safe, small enough so that you can identify a distant face. There's a sense of enclosure. The curved benches are walls that make small "convex" spaces, places for groups to congregate with a view out into the larger space. It's a people watching paradise.

P1090093-2012-06-09-Erin-Craig-Kennedy-wedding-crowd-gathers-Molly-full
This is rocket science design for human comfort, comfort that helps shy folks be sociable. The really shy folks can watch from the balconies.

P1090112-2012-06-09-Erin-Craig-Kennedy-wedding-vows
And who doesn't love a wedding.

I didn't return for a couple of years and I confess: I forget how great this place is. Thanks Living Walls!

IMG_0386 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
There's a grassy "lobby" big enough for Food Trucks and Italian Ice Carts.

IMG_0382 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
The stairway and the dogs are truly grand. But there are ramps for elders like me.

IMG_0393 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
The clearly defined spaces feel informal and flexible. There's breathing room. It's hard to feel rushed in here. Where else can you bike to the front row?

IMG_0396 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
By the time the movie started there must have been 250+ folks there.

IMG_0404 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park

IMG_0401 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
The movie finished about 10 and the first wave of folks left.

IMG_0403 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
The second wave wasn't in any hurry. The experienced picnickers packed up their baskets.

IMG_0406 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
The third wave lingered and lollygagged.

IMG_0407 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
The fourth wave chatted in cozy clumps. For all I know they stayed until the park closed.

IMG_0405 2014-08-14 Thursday Living Walls Atlanta LW2014 Movie Public Discourse at O4W Park
Trust me on this: This is one of Atlanta's great spaces.

Blog Archive