It was 2 days before the grand unveiling of a painting that had cost me thousands and I was finally meeting the man I had hired to paint it. Though we had talked by phone in 1986 and collaborated during the three years of hard work on the painting, I had not met him face to face until today. Elfred nonchalantly picked off the stainless merry-go-round a long black PVC tube that held the 4 x 8 ft. canvas. Looking more like a bazooka than a painting valued somewhere in the six figures, I was amazed he had gotten through airport security.
The Westvale SDA church in Syracuse, N.Y. had invited Elfred and Bibleland Studios for this very important weekend, which would culminate in the unveiling of The Invitation The audience hung on every word as Elfred recounted his rescue as a child from a prison camp where he first learned to draw. When he shared the slides of his expeditions up Mt. Ararat in search of the Ark and recounted the testimonies of the Ark eyewitnesses he had interviewed, the audience showed no interest in quitting though the time had long expired for the lecture. The excitement grew as the time neared to finally see Noahs Ark captured on canvas.
Now it was the evening of April 18, 2004. The moment had finally arrived. The night before I had hardly slept. I realized I was about to stick my neck out and in one sense never be able to go back to the unknown and rather uneventful life I had felt comfortable with. Was I ready for this? Did I really want this? Could I do it? The people were seated; my wife Christen and my mother-in-law Carolyn manned the unveiling cloth. Without anymore adieu I said, Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, may I introduce to you The Invitation. As the black cloth dropped to the floor, the audience let out a simultaneous gasp. Unexpectedly they rose and gave their approval a standing ovation. To tell you the truth I felt very uncomfortable. I appreciated the response but felt Elfred and mostly God should get the credit.
When they took their seats, Elfred spoke. He began by describing the symbolism hidden in the painting and reason for certain design elements. He saved one symbol, the best, for last. Notice Noah’s shadow? It’s the shadow of a cross. Continuing he said, Noah was a carpenter, so was Christ, Noah made a way of salvation for the people, so did Christ. People milled about asking question after question. Their obvious pleasure was satisfying to watch. I had wondered if I was ready for this, but after watching everyone’s response that night the answer was clear – full steam ahead. I think I grew about a foot that weekend.
Next up: Bibleland launches a website and The Invitation goes international.