Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cody Mural Visitor Center Missionaries

It has been a wonderful opportunity to spend the summers of 2009 and 2011 in Cody getting away from the summer heat of Arizona and serving as missionaries at the Mural. The mural was completed in 1951. Mark remembers watching the Mural being painted.

This Mural is a less known treasure of church history. Reproduction of several of its panels, including a portrayal of the miracle of the seagulls in the Salt Lake Valley in 1868, has made the art feel familiar to first time LDS visitors.  It is an impressive story to the many who visit and hear it for the first time at the Mural.

Incidentally, we gained some additional insight into the story of the crickets.  It came in the form of a question.

 “How do you dress for Halloween as a Mormon cricket?”

Wear a basic black outfit with some sort of antennas. Then get about a thousand of your friends and family to dress the same and then – together - descend on someone’s party.
There is a web site,, that is well done, presents the mural in good detail, and tells a little of it’s history.  

The Mural was commissioned by Glen E. Nielson in commemoration of a significant spiritual experience he had when seeking financial backing for a business endeavor.  It was painted by Edward T. Grigware. Mr. Grigware was already a nationally recognized artist when he moved to Cody in the late 1930s.  He would eventually be commissioned to paint the Garden Room in the Los Angeles temple.

When commissioned to paint the Cody mural, he knew little about the church. For a year he studied – learning of its doctrine and history--traveling to many historic sites with the Bishop of the Cody Ward.  The mural then required another year to complete.  Mr. Grigware stated  that  what he  painted “was the love and admiration he held in his heart for this indomitable people.”

A frequently asked question was if he joined the church.  Several years ago a mural missionary documented an interesting story regarding that question.

This missionary was eating lunch at the Senior Citizen Center  when a lady approached and introduced herself. She told this missionary that she and her husband had been close friends of the Grigwares. She said, “I watched Ed as he studied your church and painted your mural. He changed.”  She continued saying that Ed’s wife, who was dying of cancer, saw the change also and was afraid that he would join the Mormon Church.  Before her death, she asked him to promise her that he would not join.  He promised.

She then added,  “I have a son who joined your church.  He changed.   Your church makes people change."

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