Wednesday, April 2, 2008

GPS Tour: Forest Lawn, Glendale

When you think you've seen all there is to see in your area, consult your GPS to make sure. Wanting to take advantage of a beautiful Saturday my former roommate and dear friend Tina and I headed out in the great blue yonder with only our GPS as our guide. LOL. This is roughing it in LA.

The first stop on our random GPS led Tour was the Forest Lawn Cemetary in Glendale. Other stops on the tour were: the Hollywood Sign and Greystone Mansion.

Why stop at a cemetery? Let me tell you.

Forest Lawn in Glendale is more than a cemetery, it is a veritable cultural experience.

In addition to being the final resting place to over 250,000 people, including the largest number of celebrities, it also houses a museum, wedding chapel, art gallery, and an architectural showcase. Forest Lawn is founded on the belief that there is joy in the life after death.

During our trip we visited an amazing mural, The Crucifixion and Resurrection, a stained-glass replica of the Last Supper, and the Plaza of MesoAmerican Heritage - all part of Forest Lawn's permanent collection.

The Last Supper is one of Leonardo da Vinci's greatest works, and the original is now faded and damaged. Hubert Easton commissioned a stained glass artist from Italy to study da Vinci's sketches and recreate his masterpiece in stained glass for his gallery. It is spectacular. Amazing that it survived being shipped.

The Crucifixion and Resurrection murals are housed in the Hall of Crucifixion and Resurrection, built specifically for these amazing works of art.

The Crucifixion, painted by Polish artist Jan Styka, is the largest framed mounted to canvas painting in the world, standing 195' long by 45' high. It is hard to absorb it all, instead you have to break it down piece by piece, element by element to take it all in. Luckily the painting is narrated and important parts are iilluminated for easy finding.

What struck me most about this fantastic work of art was the story of how it came to Forest Lawn. Artist Jan Styka studied in the holy land and had his palette blessed by Pope Leo the XIII before he began his awesome effort to paint the moment of Christ's crucifixion from all perspectives.

However, when it came to America, in 1904, to be shown at an exhibition St. Louis it was lost. Jan was forced to return to Poland without his masterpiece, and he never saw it again. Dr. Huber Eaton, founder of Forest Lawn, decided to find it and get it a permanent home. In 1944 it was found in a warehouse in Chicago wrapped around a telephone pole.

The Resurrection was painted by American Artist, Robert Clark. With it's completion Forest Lawn created a sacred trilogy of the three most significant events in Christ's life - the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

The Plaza of MesoAmerican Heritage has beautiful sculptures and amazing views.

Never fear, there are also a ton of celebrities to be found at Forest Lawn. In fact, it is the final resting place for the greatest number of celebrities in the world. Here is a small sample of those buried on site. Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Pickford, Errol Flynn, and Spencer Tracy. George Burns & Gracie Allen, W.C. Fields, Sammy Davis Jr., Walt Disney, Red Skelton, Lon Chaney, Ethel Waters, Alan Ladd, Dick Powell, Ted Knight, Sam Cooke, Joe E. Brown, Nat King Cole, Norma Shearer, Chico Marx, Dorothy Dandridge, Sid Grauman, Casey Stengel, Larry Fine, Aimee Semple McPherson, Louis L'Amour and L. Frank Baum.

However, Forest Lawn employees will not help you find these graves on their expansive grounds. Rather they frown on it and have on occasion confiscated grave maps.

This is not your average cemetery.

Forest Lawn — Glendale

1712 S. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, CA 91205

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