John Wehrle’s Celestial Masterpiece: Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo

galileo jupiter apollo john wehrle

John O. Wehrle, an esteemed artist, left an indelible mark on Los Angeles with his monumental mural creation titled “Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo.” Crafted in 1983 and situated along the north retaining wall between Spring Street and Broadway, this mural serves as a captivating blend of classical motifs and contemporary references.

Melding Classical Allusions with Modern Symbolism

Wehrle’s mural is an amalgamation of unconventional imagery and scenes, integrating fragments of classical Greek architecture and statues suspended in a cosmic backdrop. This mural stands as a visual testament to Los Angeles, symbolizing its essence as both a hub of technological advancement and the host of the 1984 Summer Olympics.

The Evolution of Artistic Vision: From Ruins of Babel to Olympic Spectacle

Originally conceived as the “Ruins of Babel,” a mural portraying a mythic tower aspiring to reach the heavens, Wehrle transformed and adapted this concept to align with the spirit of the Olympics. The artist replaced Roman architecture with remnants of a Greek Temple, accompanied by the Olympic motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (Swifter, Higher, Stronger), etched into the architectural elements.

Symbolism Rooted in Mythology and Historical Achievements

The mural’s title, “Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo,” draws from historical and mythological references. Galileo, the first to observe Jupiter through a telescope, mirrors the Roman god Jupiter (Zeus in Greek mythology), father of both the Olympics and Apollo. Notably, the mural incorporates an astronaut on Jupiter’s left, reminiscent of Michelangelo’s iconic Sistine Chapel creation.

Restoration and Endurance

Over its more than three-decade lifespan, the mural has encountered challenges, facing tagging and aerosol abuse. However, efforts led by Donna Williams, Chris Stavroudis, and Willie Herron, in collaboration with MCLA (Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles), initiated restoration endeavors in 2004, 1995, and continuing in 2015. The mural’s endurance and restoration signify its cultural significance and the ongoing dedication to preserving Wehrle’s celestial masterpiece.

Location and Legacy

Located at Hollywood Freeway (101) and Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, Wehrle’s “Galileo, Jupiter, Apollo” stands not just as a mural but as a testament to the fusion of artistic imagination, historical references, and Los Angeles’ vibrant cultural landscape.

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