THE MASONIC MURALIN ROCKY RIVER LODGE
By Bro. Richard M. Rairigh
Oct. 10th 1946
A Great feeling of pride should possess every “703" member as he glances at the beautifully colored Masonic mural in its "West" and contemplates the history of its creation and the deep meaning of its symbolism. This month marks the passage of thir teen years since its unveiling in the fall of 1933.
The classic beauty and fine artistry of this valuable painting was acclaimed by art critics and highly re spected artists soon after its completion. But besides being an outstanding work of art, the story of its creation and its significance in Masonry make it especially valuable and intimate to each of us who is fortunate enough to see it often.
We are indebted, principally, to our late brother, Richard Fawn, for originating and inspiring the crea tion of a Masonic mural for Rocky River Lodge. It was through his efforts that the services of the tal ented young artist, Michael Sarisky, were secured to render the preliminary rough sketches and finally paint the actual mural. Though Bro. Fawn was not, him self, an artist, he was the manager of an art studio and had an expert's appreciation of well executed work. He was familiar with the talents of Sarisky, the artist, who was then in his employ, and had the utmost confi dence in Sarisky's ability to do a fine piece of work. The final result confirmed the soundness of his judgment.
Problems, large and small, faced both the artist and the brethren of "703" before painting could start and even after it began. Historical and Masonic research, financial backing. approvals from the Grand Lodge and many other details were faced and mastered through the unselfish cooperation of such brethren as Wor. Bro. Bob Goldbach, Bros. Les Hershberger, Fad Watkins, Clyde Brown, Bill Theuer and Wor. Pro. Ken Littlejohn. A near catastrophe occurred when, after the first canvas had been stretched and sized, it was discovered one night that the shrinking canvas had begun to pull the wall down. Only the alertness of an awning company in answering a frantic call for help prevented the wall from collapsing. The 23 ½ ft. by 11¼ ft. piece of seamless material was once again stretched, but after the wall had been properly reinforced.
Such irritating delays in the actual start of painting finally shortened the time left before the scheduled unveiling until there were only ten days left to do the entire job. For an artist to attempt to render a paint ing of this immensity in such a short space of working time was phenomenal. Yet it was done-and done as carefully and as well as if many times that length of time were taken. It meant, however, that Sarisky and his helper had to actually live-eat, sleep and work-in the lodge room. Their hours were irregular because they would work until they were exhausted and, after stealing a few short hours of sleep, would resume their labors. Only on one occasion did they leave their work to attend a downtown movie and see a picture entitled "Henry the Eighth." Many amusing and exciting incidents developed under these unusual conditions and among them were the organ "interludes" which the artist's helper played for his own amusement in the small hours of the morning when their artistic talents would refuse to function further. The organ, incidentally, was of much older vintage than the one that now graces our lodge.
On one occasion, when the artists were stealing a few golden hours of sleep in the late afternoon, they awakened to find the room gayly decorated and occu pied by a group of the ladies from the Eastern Star. Noticing the bewildered and surprised expressions on the faces of the two men, one of the ladies quickly explained to them that their chapter was holding a card party there that evening and had been preparing the room for the occasion. They had observed the two of them in the midst of their slumbers and had gone on about their business as quietly as possible. all that afternoon, so as not to disturb them. Fortu nately, they awakened soon enough to avoid sleeping through the party that was held in the same room.
Unbeknown to anyone but themselves, the two artists painted their own likenesses into the mural. The attire and character of the two figures would make it difficult for anyone to recognize these self portraits. It was not intended by either of them that anyone should, necessarily. It served them as a means of deriving refreshment and enjoyment during the long, tedious hours of their work. They found pleasure and amusement in pretending that their own likenesses were alive and taking part in the scene depicted on the painting. This was but one of the many devices they employed to spur themselves on through such a sizable undertaking in such a short time.
Thus, after many problems and much labor, the mural was finished in the allotted time and properly unveiled on the night when Wor. Bro. Bob Qoldbach was installed as Master of Rocky River Lodge in 1933. But, to the great loss and sorrow of everyone who knew him, Bro. Dick Fawn did not live to see the work completed. Just a couple of evenings before its completion, Bro. Dick stopped in the lodge room to see how well the work was progressing. He left, satisfied with the fruit that his efforts had borne, and was taken suddenly in death that night. Today, that painting carries an inscription in his memory.
The hopes and ambitions, toil and sacrifice that made it possible for Rocky River Lodge to have a mural that has never been duplicated anywhere, plus its impressive beauty and instructive portrayals should make every one of us contemplate its value --should make us proud to possess it.
This folder contains excerpts from a talk given by Bro. Dick Rairigh on Oct. 10th, 1946, when he ex plained the symbols and signs portrayed on our mural. Its purpose is to give the members and friends of Rocky River Lodge a deeper appreciation and closer acquaintance with the beauty and worth of a truly great Masonic mural. Its purpose is to give the members and friends of Rocky River Lodge a deeper appreciation and closer acquaintance with the beauty and worth of a truly great Masonic mural.
THE MASONIC MURALIN ROCKY RIVER LODGE