Hanging in a classroom at CUI is a wall-sized mural by renowned Lutheran painter Gerald Brommer, commissioned for the original Lutheran high school in Southern California in the early 1960s. The mural, installed last year in the Library Arts building, has seen much history at two previous Lutheran campuses before arriving at CUI.
“It’s phenomenal to look at,” says Nyle Schafhauer, an alum of the original school where the mural hung.
I was kind of amazed when I first saw it on the wall. It brought back memories.
Named “We Witness Now,” the mural depicts Christ in the center of a broad sweep of southern California landscapes including the San Fernando valley, downtown Los Angeles, farming areas and nearby deserts. It hung on an outside wall at Walter A. Maier Lutheran High School in Inglewood on 70th St. The school opened on September 8, 1953, and was named for a prominent Lutheran minister. Enrollment topped 600 in the mid-1960s. “It was the only Lutheran high school in southern California at the time, and it drew from all over,” says Paul Massmann, a 1964 graduate of the school and a 28-year staff member at CUI, who rode a bus daily to the school from Pasadena. “The mural was part of a lot of students’ visual experience there.”
When the school moved locations in 1977 and the building was sold, the mural remained. Eighteen years later, Schafhauer and another alum of the school who had been mentored by Brommer decided to see if the owners of the property would part with the artwork. They raised support from former classmates and received the go-ahead to remove it in 1995.
And so the giant mural—4 feet tall and 24 feet wide, painted on ten panels of plywood—moved to a Lutheran high school in Sylmar. There it stayed for 21 years, appreciated by more generations of students. When that high school closed, Schafhauer and his friend took the mural down again and searched for a place to install it.
Within months they found a receptive host at CUI. Massmann had taken yearbook classes from Brommer and gone on a European art tour with him. Brommer taught him the elements of good design, especially the value of white space to make layout visually appealing.
“When we learned the Brommer mural needed a home, my mind said, ‘If there is a possibility we can house it here, I want to see it happen,’” says Massmann. “I think President Krueger and the rest of the executive council had the same thought.”
Massmann used Brommer’s own principle of white space to find a suitable place for it—on a long wall in Library Arts 123.
“I was kind of amazed when I first saw it on the wall,” Massmann says. “It brought back memories.”
You think about, what’s God doing with the experiences I'm getting now at Concordia, and how is he going to use those further down the road to advance his kingdom? This is a reminder that God uses people from all over to accomplish what he wants.
Brommer is perhaps the most accomplished artist in The Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. The mural, Massmann says, shows “the reach of the Lutheran High School, its mission in bringing the gospel to the people who went to school there and training them to go out and minister as well.”
The secret to the artwork’s longevity is in the materials.
“He used automotive paint,” says Massmann. “That’s why it weathered so well.”
Brommer was pleased that his artwork had found yet another Lutheran home. The mural also provided the artwork used for Concordia’s Reformations celebrations, another testament to the relevance of its theme. Massmann calls the mural a living witness of what students at Lutheran schools can do to impact the world.
“You think about, what’s God doing with the experiences I'm getting now at Concordia, and how is he going to use those further down the road to advance his kingdom?” he says. “This is a reminder that God uses people from all over to accomplish what he wants.”
View it up close! Visit cui.edu/mural for a narrated video describing each of the 10 mural panels.