Art & Architecture
Hillside Memorial Park is an island of tranquility and peace in the midst of the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles. Many notable works of art are located within the park’s beautiful grounds and graceful buildings. Several featured works of art are highlighted below; please follow the links for full descriptions and more about the artists.
Albert Wein Sculptures: Several works by the internationally acclaimed artist and sculptor Albert Wein can be found around the park. The centerpiece of the fountain in the Court of Faith and the adorning bronze sculptures above the Goetz and Cummins sarcophagi are all found within the Garden of Memories.
Jolson Memorial: Designed by architect Paul R. Williams, the elegant, classical columns and long waterfall of the Al Jolson Memorial have become a landmark to hundreds of thousands of commuters on the San Diego Freeway.
Mary Ann DeVine Sculptures: Nationally renowned artist and sculptor Mary Ann DeVine was commissioned to create four panels on the theme of Canaan in the Torah for Hillside. Each panel consists of a bronze sculpture against a mosaic background of granite and marble depicting well-known biblical figures including Moses, Aaron and Jacob.
Valley of the Prophets – Laurie Gross Studios: Nationally renowned artist Laurie Gross designed the spiritually-inspired stained-glass windows and rotunda floor of our most recent development, Valley of the Prophets.
Stained Glass: Throughout the Mausoleum and the Courts of the Book are notable works of stained glass, rich in symbolism, which bring ancient Jewish history to life.
Known throughout history as the People of the Book, Jews attach great mystical significance to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Towering above a fountain in the Court of Faith in the Garden of Memories is an Albert Wein sculpture that gives kinetic perspective to a tower of Hebrew letters. Completed in 1968, the five welded bronze letters spell the Hebrew word emunah, or “faith” in English.
Others of Wein’s bronze sculptures can be seen above the Goetz sarcophagus and the Cummins sarcophagus in the Garden of Memories. Also of note are the bronze door handles on the Administration Building in the form of the Hebrew letter shin, which represents the name of God.
Albert Wein (1915 – 1991) once said the main thrust of his work was “to modernize and stylize the classical tradition.” Over his career, he completed commissions for the Brookgreen Gardens, the world’s largest outdoor sculpture garden, the Steuben Glass Co., the Bronx Zoo and the Libby Dam granite-relief project dedicated to former president Gerald Ford.
He has been recognized with the coveted Prix de Rome, which has been likened to the Nobel Prize in the arts; the Tiffany Foundation Fellowship; a Rockefeller Foundation grant and many others. In 1979, he was elected a full Academician of the National Academy of Design.
The elegant, classical columns of the Al Jolson Memorial are a signature of Hillside Memorial Park’s grace and beauty. The airy, white monument on a hillside above a long waterfall is a landmark to hundreds of thousands of commuters on the San Diego Freeway.
The monument was constructed in 1951, when Al Jolson’s body was moved from Beth Olam in Hollywood to Hillside Memorial Park. The domed structure rises over Jolson’s sarcophagus and features a ceiling mosaic of Moses and the tablets.
Architect Paul R. Williams (1894-1980), who designed the memorial, was the first African-American member and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of Los Angeles’s first Planning Commission. From the 1920’s through the 1970’s, he enjoyed worldwide success, designing more than 3,000 buildings—from private homes to public buildings.
In 1939, Williams won an AIA Award of Merit for his design of the elegant MCA building in Beverly Hills at the intersection of Burton Way and Crescent Drive. He also designed the interiors of the original Saks Fifth Avenue building in Beverly Hills. Among his clients were Frank Sinatra, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Julie London, Barbara Stanwyck and Anthony Quinn.
His works include the 28th Street YMCA, where Williams incorporated likenesses of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington in the façade, the Second Baptist Church, the Botany Building and Franz Hall at UCLA and the flying saucer-shaped Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport.
In 1992, sculptor Mary Ann DeVine was commissioned to create four panels on the theme of Canaan in the Torah. Each panel consists of a bronze sculpture against a mosaic background of granite and marble.
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel
In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with a being, which he refuses to release until it gives him its blessing. The man asks Jacob his name, and then says, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.”
Moses Parting the Sea of Reeds
In Exodus 13-14, the Israelites, in their final moments of generations of slavery in Mitzrayim (Egypt), are led by a towering pillar of clouds and fire to the shores of the Sea of Reeds with 600 of Pharaoh’s chariots thundering at their heels. They witness Moses, commanded by God, holding his arm over the sea as a fierce east wind splits the sea opening a passage of dry land so that “the Israelites went into the sea on dry land, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.”
Receiving the Ten Commandments
In the Jewish tradition, all Jews who were personally led out of Mitzrayim (Egypt), their children, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren — every Jew then, now and in the future — was present at God’s giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Sinai. Each has been chosen to take on the responsibility and accountability to fulfill those commandments and all the mitzvot.
Aaron Before the Temple
Moses’ brother, Aaron, was the first high priest of the Israelites. Exodus 28 describes how Aaron and his sons are to serve the Lord. In this sculpture, the “breast piece of decision” is a focal point. In Torah, it is described as four rows of stones mounted as follows: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald; then turquoise, sapphire and amethyst; then jacinth, agate and crystal; and lastly beryl, lapis lazuli and jasper. The stones correspond to the tribes of Israel. When Aaron wore the breastplate, the names of the tribes of Israel were over his heart “for remembrance before the Lord at all times.”
DeVine (1935 –1996) was equally proficient in carving stone and casting bronze. Her work drew on her profound knowledge of the history of art, religion and mythology. Her works are held in the public collections of the Library of Congress, the University of California at Los Angeles and the Long Beach Museum of Art, among others. She was a 1984 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant for sculpture. Her series at Hillside Memorial Park was one of the last that she completed prior to her death.
The four window suite in the Valley of the Prophets Mausoleum incorporate themes of the natural world: day and night, sustenance and solace, fluidity and continuity. Moses, Aaron and Miriam are the representatives of the Prophetic tradition.
The Rotunda floor consists of seven concentric circles of varying colors. In Judaism the number seven represents creation, good fortune and blessing. Shabbat is the seventh day of the week; we sit Shiva for seven days; seven branches on the Temple Menorah. The middle circle contains the Hebrew words Zachor L’dor v’Dor meaning remembrance from generation to generation. The words link the generations by memory, signifying the important role each of us have in the continuity of our families and our Jewish history.
Gross’s work on synagogue projects has received numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects and The Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture. Her work is heavily inspired by Jewish tradition, which she uses to create works embodying universal themes and rich metaphors. She works closely with Elizabeth Devereaux Architectural Glass to bring the stained-glass designs to life.
Throughout the Mausoleum and the Courts of the Book are notable works of stained glass. Rich in symbolism, the art brings ancient Jewish history to life.
The stained glass walls in the Courts of the Book glow with sunrise and sunset on the walls of the court. Vivid, brilliant, abstract, yet interconnected in design, these works inspire, give hope and remind us of the magnificence of the gift of life.
The most spectacular are the contemporary stained glass windows in three locations in the Courts of the Book. The largest runs the height of the building and is positioned to capture the setting sun’s western light. Vivid blues, purples and plums flow around starbursts of glass in greens, whites, oranges and yellows.
Directly opposite, catching the eastern morning light, is another contemporary design window featuring yellow, white and orange stained glass.
A third window, also of contemporary design, is located on the eastern wall and can be viewed from different sides at different levels of the Courts of the Book. Tall and narrow, it catches both eastern and western sun through panes of gold, orange and white stained glass.