Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LDS Temple Murals - Pt 3 - The Spireless Temple Murals

This is a continuation of my posts on LDS Temple Murals.  Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.
 
It took 20 years after the Salt Lake Temple was completed for another temple to start construction.  Ten years after that, the Cardston Alberta Canada Temple was finally completed.  In the meantime the Laie Hawaii Temple had been started and completed.  Four years later, the Mesa Arizona Temple was completed.  These three temples share a common floor plan and a lack of a spire or tower.  They are beautiful temples.  They also had murals which I will discuss briefly.  I have only been in the Mesa Arizona Temple so my insights on the other temple murals will be less detailed.  Please write in the comments and tell us about their murals if you know more.


The Laie Hawaii Temple has unique murals with a different style than those found in pioneer temples.  (Addition to the original post - the baptistery also includes murals) Here are pictures of the creation, garden, and world room murals.  I particularly like how the creation room mural has different panels for each day of creation instead of the one continuous mural painting seen in most temples. I also like how the wood brings warmth into the rooms.  LeConte Stewart painted the murals according to the LDS church's news release after the latest remodel.
Laie Hawaii Temple Baptistery Murals
Laie Hawaii Temple Baptistery Murals
Laie Hawaii Temple Creation Room Mural

Laie Hawaii Temple Garden Room Mural

Laie Hawaii Temple World Room Mural
The Cardston Alberta Canada Temple was the next completed.  It has intricate woodwork throughout the temple that can be seen alongside the murals.  Also, murals are found in the baptistery, chapel, and terrestrial rooms and not just the creation, garden and world rooms.  I think this is the only temple with terrestrial room murals, although I could be wrong.  An ensign article found here talks about the Cardston Temple and gives this insight into the murals:
Latter-day Saint artists spanning three generations worked side by side on the murals of the temple. LeConte Stewart, in his late twenties, supervised the decorative work and painted the murals in the creation room. These murals were painted with small daubs of color, much like the pointillist style of some of the French impressionists. In the next room was Lee Greene Richards, a man in his early forties, who had been one of LeConte Stewart’s teachers. His garden room murals recalled some elements of art nouveau, including a sinuously curved tree and a graceful peacock. A. B. Wright, one of Richards’s contemporaries, was also at work on smaller paintings in the chapel and terrestrial rooms. Meanwhile, Edwin Evans, a well-established artist in his sixties, who had taught both Richards and Wright, painted scenes of the Alberta countryside in the world room.
I hope you noticed that pointillism and art nouveau were mentioned in regards to the creation room and garden room murals respectively.  The artistic liberties granted to the mural artists were perhaps a lot greater than those given artists today.  Today we stress strict realism in temple murals; in the past we allowed other artistic styles to have some expression.  Prints of the garden room murals are now on the walls of the Kyiv Ukraine Temple as well.  I like how in the Carston Temple garden room the front of the room has two trees painted on half cylindrical portions of the walls.  This seems to make them more tree like, in my opinion. Here are pictures of the various rooms with murals.  If any of you have been to the Cardston Temple and can give more details on what is in the murals, etc. then please comment.  I notice from the pictures that the murals take up a larger portion of each wall than the previous room's murals (with the possible exception of the terrestrial room) which adds to symbolic progression in the temple.
Cardston Alberta Canada Temple Font


Mural of Abraham Offering Sacrifice in Cardston Temple Baptistery
Cardston Temple Baptism of Christ Mural Detail
Cardston Alberta Canada Temple Chapel
Cardston Alberta Canada Temple Creation Room
Cardston Alberta Canada Temple Garden Room
Cardston Alberta Canada Temple World Room
Cardston Alberta Canada Temple Terrestrial Room
The Mesa Arizona Temple was has been called a Lamanite temple in that many Native Americans and Mexicans have historically attended the temple.  The murals reflect the Lamanite influences.  In the baptistery the murals show baptisms being performed in ancient America as well as the baptism of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  In the upstairs hallway next to the grand staircase there is a mural of Joseph Smith Jr. preaching to the Lamanites (Native Americans).  The other rooms have typical murals of the creation, Garden of Eden, and world.  The world room presents a barren desert landscape as a symbol of this fallen world.  This is fitting as the Mesa Temple is in a very hot and dry desert.  The Snowflake Arizona Temple uses desert scenes differently and has murals capturing the beauty of the desert landscape instead of showing it strictly as a symptom of a fallen world.
Mesa Temple Baptistery with Mural
Mesa Arizona Temple Baptistery Mural
Mesa Arizona Temple Creation Room Being Painted

Mesa Arizona Temple Garden Room

Mesa Arizona Temple Garden Room
Mesa Arizona Temple World Room
Mesa Arizona Temple Staircase
Mesa Arizona Temple Mural of Joseph Smith Jr. Preaching to the Lamanites



I like that the murals in these three temples are unique.  They display different art styles unlike our current murals which seem to be all natural realism.  Also, I like that murals were worked into different places such as baptisteries, chapels, halls, and terrestrial rooms.  When the endowment was presented using film, the need, and unfortunately the desire, to have murals was lost.  Unfortunately this meant that a lot of good art was not produced for temples until recently when murals have begun to be used again in temples.  There is no reason why a temple using film cannot follow the example of the Laie, Cardston, and Mesa Temples and use murals in the baptistery and in hallways, lobbies, and chapels.  Actually some temples have done this, but that is for another post.  In my next post I plan to talk about the Idaho Falls and Los Angeles Temples and their murals.  They pushed mural progression even further forward with celestial room murals.

Please take the time to comment on these temples and their murals.  I'd love to hear your insights on these murals and how concepts present in these temples could be applied to new temples today.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does the Mesa Temple still have murals in the endowment rooms today? I thought maybe they were removed after the Temple was equipped with the film endowment, where patrons stay in one room the entire time.

Jon said...

Even though so many temple murals feature the natural realism nowadays, I'm sure this is due more to the mass marketing and consequent popularity of the style in various print formats than to some creative control exerted by the church.

Don said...

The Mesa Temple murals were all completely destroyed in the remodeling that took place in the 1970s, and the room-to-room progression was stopped. In more recent years, some wall paintings have been partially restored.

Scott said...

When I went to the Mesa Temple (last time was in 2004 or 2005) the murals were still there, although you stayed in 1 room until the end, then moved to the terrestrial room.

Don, I don't think they were "completely destroyed" as there would be no reason for them to re-paint the murals as they aren't moving from room to room any more. Do you know something more? Did they paint over them and then remove the layer of paint. That scenario wouldn't involve completely destroying the murals. What do you mean?

Scott said...

Anonymous,
Other than the Logan Temple, when other temples have been remodeled the murals have been kept. In some cases such as Idaho Falls, you move from room to room but watch the corresponding parts of the film in each room. In other temples (Mesa, St. George) they have you stay in one room for the entire session. This makes the murals not have the same effect because you are getting the mural out of sequence

Anonymous said...

Scott, you mentioned that in St. George you stay in just one room during a session. Do they still have murals there or have they been removed?

Scott said...

The murals are still in the St. George Temple, but now they have you stay in either the creation, garden, or world room for the whole session, then you move to the terrestrial room at the end and from there to the celestial room. I don't know why they don't just make the rooms progressive again. It would make more sense.

Anonymous said...

Scott,
Another question regarding the Mesa and St. George Temples. It sounds like you've verified that both of these Temples have all 4 sequential endowment rooms (Creation, Garden, World, & Terrestrial), and that you stay in one room for an entire session. Ldschurchtemples.com shows that St. George has 3 endowment rooms and Mesa has 4. Do you know why? Are they not counting the Terrestrial room of the St. George Temple because it's used as a veil room only?

Scott said...

Yes, in the St. George and Mesa (and other) temples the terrestrial room is now used as a veil room so you always go to it. Because of this, some sources will count the number of endowment rooms as 3 instead of 4.

Heather B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don said...

Scott, you asked if I know "anything more" about the destruction and restoration of the murals in Mesa. What I know is what I've already posted. The murals were completely taken out. I have attended the Mesa Temple when it had no murals whatsoever. The Creation, Garden, and World Rooms were entirely redecorated and patrons did not move from room to room. A small demonstrative "veil" was used in those rooms and then patrons moved to the Terrestrial Room only for actually going through the veil. Later, some panels of the rooms were partly repainted, but the room-to-room progression had not been restored. I saw this, too, by attending the Mesa Temple myself. The murals weren't "still there." They were repainted.

Scott said...

The last time I was in Mesa you stayed in one room until the end and used demonstration veils, then moved to the terrestrial room. But the murals were definitely there and they are definitely the original murals. It is possible that they removed the canvas murals for a time and have since added them back.

Don said...

I don't think I understand what makes you sure that the murals are "definitely the original murals." The panels on the walls of the rooms I attended weren't original. They were newly painted, and only covered a small portion of the wall.

Scott said...

Because I've been in the rooms and they were the same paintings as are in the photos. So unless they painted new murals to look exactly like the old ones, I think they are the original murals. As I said, they may have at one time removed them and then recently brought them back. I don't know the details on that. We are both stating things from our experiences here. What we need to do is find a book that outlines the changes and definitively states what happened in the remodels and where the current murals came from. Sure there is a chance that some of them are completely new, just like the Manti Temple garden and world room murals aren't the originals.

Don said...

...and just like the Salt Lake Temple murals have been repainted. The photos in Talmage's original book don't show the same trees in Eden, for example, as are there now.

El Organista said...

My grandmother, who has attended the Mesa Temple nearly weekly for about 40 years, indicates that, as long as she can remember, the endowment room murals are the same that have always been there. Only one wall in each room features murals.

El Organista said...

Re my previous post (posted too hastily):
Admittedly, my comment would not appear to jibe with the posted photos--but those pictures may be older even than my grandma.

Crystal HW said...

Just so that you know, your picture marked Creation room for the Cardston Temple is actually the Cardston Terrestrial room from a different angle than the picture below it. The Creation Room has benches set up exactly like those in the World Room and Garden Room. The wall murals throughout the rooms cover the same amount of wall space, as well. The wall mirrors in the Celestial Room have been covered by curtains before the last dedication in 1991 by President Hinkley. You still move room to room, which is rare these days in LDS Temples.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I noticed that the Mesa Arizona temple is listed as having 4 ordinance rooms. Being that there is no longer any endowment room progression in that temple, does that mean that the room formerly known as the Terrestial Room is one of the rooms you sit in for the entire endowment ceremony until the veil part? I know you still go from either the Creation, Garden, or World Room to the Terrestial Room for the veil ceremony, but I wondered if this room was one where the majority of the endowment is presented in.

The St. George Temple is only counted as having three ordinance rooms because the "Terrestial Room" there is only used for the veil ceremony. Thus my question regarding the Mesa Temple.

Scott said...

ldschurchtemples.com lists the Mesa Temple as having 4 endowment rooms. I've attended this temple a few times and you start in the creation, garden or world room and spend 95% of the ceremony there and then move to the Terrestrial Room for the end. So the Terrestrial Room is not used for the full ceremony. I'm not sure if they've added another room, or if this temple is more of a 3 endowment room and 1 veil room temple.

R. Workman said...

I have some answers as far as the Mesa Temple is concerned. The reason that there are "4" ordinance rooms in the Mesa Temple, as opposed to 3, like in St. George, is that "Ordinance Room 4" was added to increase capacity in 1980. This was all done while the temple was still open. I believe it took the place of the womens dressing room (although the only thing I know for sure, is that the womens dressing room was moved during the creation of the 4th ordinance room.
Additionallym Don is mostly correct. According to "The Ninth Temple, A Light in the Desert" by Evan Tye Peterson, very little of the original murals were able to be salvaged. There was only enough usable pieces to do one wall in each of the 4 ordinance rooms (done in 1991). The great bulk of the murals had deteriorated too much to be restored.

Scott said...

Thanks for the info.

Lewis said...
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Lewis said...

Just a bit more about the restored murals in the Mesa Arizona temple-- the original murals were painted on canvas after it had been embedded in a coat of wet plaster on the walls. When the remodel of the temple occurred in 1974 and the temple was expanded and converted to a film presentation, the murals were painstakingly removed by separating the canvas from the rest of the wall. These were rolled up and stored in the basement of the temple, if I remember correctly. In 1991, the interior of the temple was redecorated. At that time the decision was made to try and restore the murals to their place in the ordinance rooms. However, upon examination of the murals, a great deal of the painting had deteriorated due to improper storage and some of it was damaged in the removal from the wall. It was clear that the entire murals were beyond repair. From the three original murals, four large, full-length pieces were salvaged. These were each placed on one wall in each of the four endowment rooms (the fourth room had been added during the 1974 remodel). These are not long enough to cover the entire wall, so they are framed with painted molding on either side. The four remnants that were selected were not without flaw. In most cases, they had lines of cracked or missing paint where they had been rolled up. A sister from an Eastern European country (I can’t recall which) was commissioned to clean and restore the mural fragments. She was responsible for blending new paint and colors to repair the missing lines of color. She did a fantastic job and you cannot tell except if you are sitting right next to one of the seams. While working on the mural restoration—which took several months—she attended our Ward (I live near the temple) and recounted these facts to me first-hand.

Anonymous said...

Hey, being a temple worker in the Mesa temple, I'll say this. There are four instruction rooms, and an additional veil room. One instruction room is on the ground floor. The other three are on the same floor as the veil room. I looked at the photos posted. I recognized some, but others I did not. For instance, one of the baptistery murals has been re-done. (The second photo) it's no longer there. I hope this helps.

Dorinne Jacobs said...

Is there any way to purchase a picture of some of the murals in the temples? Our ward library doesn't have any and m
any of the lessons on temples could use some.

Anonymous said...

My husbands great aunt had a hand in touching up the murals at the Salt Lake Temple. I can definitely see her style in the Hawaii temple murals. I believe she also worked with one of the artist you mentioned. Her name is Mabel Pearl Frazer. Thank you.