SCA 2007 Archaeology Month Poster
The 2007 SCA California Archaeology Month poster displays a constellation of images about the hidden mural of Mission Dolores. In the winter of 2004, Eric Blind and Ben Wood began working with Brother Guire Cleary and Andrew Galvan of Mission Dolores to photograph this concealed artwork. The mural was most likely painted for the dedication of the Mission Church in 1791. This 22'x 20' mural was painted on the most prominent wall of the church, behind the altar, where it has remained for over 200 years. It was eclipsed several years after the dedication by a wall sculpture, called a reredos, that was imported from Mexico in the last years of the 18th Century. In the 1930s this reredos was considered to be the finest example of baroque sculpture in the country by members of the Historic American Buildings Survey [HABS] team. As for the hidden mural, Mission Fathers and lately curators have known about its existence, but the cramped space behind the reredos prohibited view of this early colonial relic, until these photographs revealed its presence.
Included in the poster is the headline from the San Francisco Chronicle, which details some of reporter Carl Nolte's story about the revealed mural. The centerpiece is a montage of some of the 300+ images needed to photograph the upper portions of the 22'x 20' mural. Adjacent to the montage is a section drawing of the reredos done in the 1930's by the HABS team. Extending out of California from the location of Mission Dolores is a graphic showing the Mission's sphere of influence, depicting the tribal groups that had members baptized before the reredos arrived and the mural was eclipsed. Baptized natives most likely had a substantial role in painting the mural. Therefore, descending down the facade of the reredos and behind the mural montage are the names of neophytes known to be baptized prior to the dedication of the church in 1791. One or many of these people could have painted the mural, but only a fraction of the 500+ neophytes baptized before 1791 are graphically incorporated into the poster. Their names are presented as they were transcribed from their native tongue into the Libro de Baptismos alongside their ascribed Christian names. Over the ensuing centuries, tens of thousands of people would be baptized and married in front of the still standing reredos and the hidden mural, a unique juxtaposition of colonial Californian heritage.