Father Maur was a Benedictine monk who divided his time between communities in Valyermo,CA and Bruges. When I first asked him if we could use the image from his original ceramic entitled “Jesus Roller Skating with Friends at Venice Beach” for the front of our church he said, “No.” Then, with an actor’s deft sense of dramatic pause added, “But I will be happy to recreate a new one just for you.” And so the Venice mural came to be. First, he built canvas panels so he could paint on them in brighter colors (I had the pleasure of sitting with him under the shade of an apple tree at St. Andrew’s Abbey while he worked:) Then we photographed the panels so the images could be digitized using outdoor board technology, wrapped on metal bases, and secured to the front of First Lutheran Church of Venice.

On any given day, you’re likely to find a carload of tourists popping out of their cars to take a snapshot in front of the mural, which has become something of a Venice landmark. When I asked Fr. Maur how he chose this theme— which he first rendered in ceramic back in the 70s— he told me, “The first time I ever came to Venice Beach I knew. Jesus would love spending time here.

“The work has been described as being second in local popularity only to Venice’s ‘Ballerina Clown’ sculpture.” Fr. Maur went to his heavenly home in 2013. I had a chance to visit with him one last time in his studio at St. Andrew’s Abbey the year before he died.

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