Tuesday, September 11


La Bohème, Chicago Style

That worthy repository of urbanist causes, the Society of St. Barbara blog, has brought yet another local masterpiece to my attention--the murals at the Bohemian National Cemetary Chapel in Chicago, by the unjustly neglected ecclesiastical muralist John Mallin, who labored in his traditional style well into the 1960s. The chapel is not Catholic, but non-denominational, but features some wonderful paintwork which would be a tremendous shame to lose.

The cemetary itself started out as a burial-ground for non-Catholic Bohemians, particularly those of a radical or agnostic bent, but over time more Catholics have come to be buried there. There has even been some discussion of opening up a specifically Catholic chapel in the cemetary in recent years--admittedly somewhat tenuous discussions--but nonetheless Catholic funerals are occasionally held inside this particular chapel, and a priest recently consecrated the grounds.

And the folks at St. Barbara have the solution:
American Express has a novel program to protect and celebrate American architecture, they are calling Partners in Preservation. The idea sure sounds like a pleasnt one, in sort of 1960's radio contest way: Amex will donate $1 Million to the upkeep of a Chicago area landmark, based on the leader in number of votes on their website to maintain the landmark (it also sounds a bit like the SNL skit where callers voted on whether to boil a live lobster or not).

John Mallin is the premier ecclesiastical mural painter in the United States. He did work all over the Archdiocese of Chicago, following Henry Schlacks with his finishing touches to Schlacks Churches. One of his finest works, however, was not at a Catholic chapel, rather at the non-denominational Bohemian National Cemetery Chapel at Pulaski and Foster in Chicago.


John Mallin lived a very long time, and was still producing classical artwork in the 1960's when the rest of the world had given up on 2000 + years of tradition in exchange for Roy Lichtenstein. We need more artists such as Mallin to uphold the fine arts regardless of the prevailing artistic norms.
More on the contest here.

And if now you suddenly have a mysterious craving for lobster, go here afterwards.

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