Monday, January 23, 2012

A messianic mural in the making

You don't really expect to see much new when you visit a small cemetery begun at the end of the 19th century; so when I stopped in to the Alliance Church International Cemetery in Jerusalem's German Colony in November, I could hardly believe my eyes.

A grand mural painting was underway!

Most days the tall gate is locked on this place of final repose of Christians, Messianic Jews, internationals, and people refused burial elsewhere.
I took advantage of an open moment when a woman came out; the gardener allowed me in and when I asked him about the mural, he said that was the artist who just left.

Back home, I found their website which explains it thus:
[In 2009 a Wisconsin woman, Patricia Solveson,] announced to us how the Lord laid it on her heart to donate her talents to the cemetery. As the Lord would provide, she would put together an assisting work team and periodically visit Jerusalem to paint a biblical mural on our "unfinished" cement walls. The mural would begin with Genesis and continue through Revelation and tell the prophetic story of "God's Sacrificial, Salvation Lamb".

This webpage, with photos, interprets each Bible scene of the mural in a messianic way.
They call it "The Jerusalem 'Wall of Life' ministry project."

Tall enough to need a scaffold.

Here you see how part of the 300-foot wall is being prepped for painting.
"Over the years, neighboring construction projects have caused some of our historic stone walls to be destroyed and replaced with unsightly, unfinished cement walls," the website explains.

It seems like artist Pat couldn't wait, got ahead of herself and skipped over to the end of the Christian scriptures to what looks like her favorite scene, Revelation 1:13:
"and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest."
This portrait is not yet finished.
In future posts I'll tell more about the interesting history of this place and of those buried here.
I want to contribute this post to some new memes--Monday Mural and Taphophile Tragics (for those who like to wander through graveyards), and also to our old favorite Our World Tuesday.


Rob Siemann said...

Some really nice bits in there, I specially like Moses

VioletSky said...

Many cemeteries seem to be in hilly, picturesque spots with the best views... so if one is stuck behind a wall, why not still get a view?

μαρτυς said...

I think the mural is ghastly; the subject matter notwithstanding. It looks like a cheap cartoon tract to me, or a foyer wall in the Las Vegas Sistine Casino and Day Care.

Reader Wil said...

This is a real great piece of work. Thanks for taking these photos and sharing them.Jerusalem is full of surprises.

VP said...

The fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) of 'Dogma' by Kevin Smith were exiled to Wisconsin which, as they said, was worse than hell.
Now something spectacularly messianic is coming out of there and I begin to wonder if there is something really interesting hidden around Milwaukee...

Anonymous said...

awesome !

Impressive a place where alike is possible. Probably unthinkable over here, as so many other things.

Please have a good week ahead.

Ann said...

I like that.

NixBlog said...

Thank you for this photographic tour of this interesting cemetery and your text explaining the genesis of the mural (pun intended!). Whether one likes the mural or not and whether one believes it is a piece of art or not, I am glad that someone has taken the initiative to cover those drab grey walls with something that is not graffiti but rather with something appropriate (in terms of subject matter).

Any artwork will not please everyone, but I am sure that many visitors to the cemetery will appreciate the "picture book" illustrations. Frescoes in places of worship had traditionally a didactic and catechismal role, so by extension one may view this in a similar way.

Gemma Wiseman said...

The wall seems like an alternative to the Wailing Wall? Lovely flow of colours linking each scene!

Jim said...

Amazing stuff.

crystal said...

Nice photos! I wonder how the families of the people buried there feel about the mural. Messianic Jews are Christians, not Jewish?

Sondra said...

The Murals are quite striking!

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Quite a sweeping task she's undertaken. I enlarged each photo so I could really see the images. You're right, she skipped a lot the Old Testament to get to what she must feel is the really good stuff. What struck me most about your post was to know that there is a cemetery for those who have been refused burial elsewhere. Why would that be? And as an archeologist, you must be bereft at the notion that the ancient walls were destroyed.

Thank you for participating in Monday Mural. I hope you'll post more wall art you encounter.

Sara said...

How interesting to see those words from Revelation translated literally into something visual. Not my favorite sort of art, but it is certainly a comprehensive undertaking.

Suzanne said...

Ya think it's some derivitive form of Jerusalem syndrome?

Lew said...

Interesting post. Mes Solveson has a long story to tell with her painting! Murals are becoming popular again though with a more modern style than this one.

Lochinver Daily Photo said...

What an excellent project.

mirae said...

Hello beautiful Dina,this is an awesome idea, it seems like wonderful art to me.
It is great to give the cemetary that artist's hand, it gives the place a lived in look,....

Joan Elizabeth said...

Very clever to have a post that so perfectly fits 3 memes.

Andy said...

A lot of work has gone into the mural. I would love to see it in person.

Julie said...

Dina, not only is the painting of the murals a gargantuan undertaking, so too is your research and reporting upon the murals.

You have certainly attracted a wide range of comments, both for and against, some vituperatively so. You must be onto something in my opinion!

I do not mind this type of art in public spaces at all, it is certainly better than the unadorned concrete wall if the orignal had to be torn down - which I bet was a choice rather than a necessity.

If the trustees of the cemetery gave permission for the art work to be created in their space, then they would best know the reactions of their stakeholders, IMO.

Yes, please. Do keep Taphophile Tragics informed on the progress of this mural and anything else about the cemetery that you find absorbing.

I thank you for your contribution to our meme.

Karl said...

Great mural paintings, Dina!

biebkriebels said...

That is a huge lot of work, but I think it is well done. Always better to look at a mural than a cement wall.

Kay said...

This is such a wonderful, beautiful discovery, Dina! The murals are gorgeous! It will be fun to see the murals in the other area being prepped.

Dina said...

Shalom friends. Wow, what interesting responses!

I'll try to answer a few questions.

Crystal, that is a thorny question too big for me to answer. I have my opinion, but that is not an answer.

Oakland DP, the walls, whichever ones had to be moved, were not ancient so it was not so bad.
In Israel Jews are buried in Jewish cemeteries, Muslims in Muslim cemeteries. Christians who in their lives were part of a community would be buried in their community's cemetery, e.g. Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Protestant, Franciscan, etc.
I have the impression that space is running out. Anyone from outside the group, his family (if any) will have to look elsewhere.
I really have no first hand experience and will have to ask around first instead of just guessing who "would be refused burial."

Suzanne, the artist took her call seriously and the cemetery owners are all for it. (Sorry, that's not much of an answer to your question. oi)

Julie, OK, I'll keep you informed.
This is not at all a public place. The high gate has a phone number if you want to coordinate a time to be let in.

I had to promise not to post names on graves there. Some of the families are sensitive about having relatives there.

Everyone--read the links, at least the first two of the three, in my post and you will understand why I am not so happy with this "ministry" of murals.

Rachel said...

Wow! That is an amazing artwork with such a broad scope. How wonderful that she has accomplished so much already!

Pietro said...

It's amazing, Dina, really amazing. Thanks for sharing this.