Discovering Great Mormon Buildings

Las Vegas 9th Ward Artwork


By Norwegian LDS sculptor Torleif S. Knaphus, 1954

3400 W Charleston Blvd
Las Vegas, NV
Built 1961
Architect: Harold W Burton
Map Location of Building

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7 responses

  1. Brandon Hall

    This piece of art was actually originally located in the old 8th and Franklin Chapel, downtown Las Vegas. The chapel was demolished a few years ago and this piece was relocated to the West Charleston Chapel where you found it. The 8th and Franklin Chapel, dedicated by David O. McKay, was one of the old 1st Ward Chapels. I grew up attending there and remember seeing this every Sunday. I’ve not very old, but know others who may know more history on this piece and the original chapel. Thanks for capturing it and including it in your photography. (Brandon Hall)

    October 15, 2011 at 6:46 pm

  2. seshat

    By Norwegian LDS sculptor Torleif S. Knaphus, 1954

    I admit I think the guy’s name is more interesting than the art he produced–too damn didactic and unimaginatively representational.

    October 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

  3. Bro. Jones

    Didactic or not, at least it’s something different than our 15 or so canonical paintings that make up the bulk of our temple and chapel decor.

    October 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    • seshat

      It’s true: this is not one of the standard bits of artwork that shows up in LDS buildings. Its aesthetic and purpose are the same as those, though: a strictly representational depiction of church leaders exercising their priesthood, reinforcing all the other messages you get. Nothing innovative, nothing thoughtful, nothing that makes you see Joseph Smith’s discovery of the golden plates in a new way–because no one wants you to see it in a new way. There’s only one way to see it, and that’s the way it’s always presented.

      The basic problem, and one this blog illustrates, is that with the advent of correlation, Mormon visual aesthetics became crappy rather than good by intention. Corporate control is what’s most important, so the end result is almost always a kind of horrible sterility. You look at something like the Brigham City Temple, which is just AWFUL, even though it’s so clearly modeled on the Manti Temple, which is absolutely glorious. You can see how they’ve tried to clean up certain things about the Manti Temple in designing the BC Temple, and all the bits they cleaned up are what made it glorious. It’s really depressing.

      October 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

  4. Jay

    Interesting thing about Mr. Knaphus is he designed and created the friezes for the Arizona temple, which I loved as a child, as well as the e original Handcart Pioneers statue, the Hill Cumorah monument, as well as other work for the temples. http://www.knaphusfamily.org/tsk/tsktlindex.html

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=13&num=1&id=345

    October 16, 2011 at 12:15 am

  5. Roberto

    I well remember this piece of artwork at the 8th and Franklin chapel. It was unusual and I liked that. Wonderful that it was moved to the 9th Ward building where I grew up. The 9th Ward was supposed to be the first tilt-up building of its kind in Las Vegas. You actually got to help build it back then.

    The other Las Vegas chapel similar in appearance to the 8th and Franklin chapel is now under concrete as part of the I-95 freeway. While the architecture was purely 50’s style they used to have a full professional boxing ring in the activities hall portion of the chapel in the 70’s. YEP! You could box away to your hearts desire on friday nights, take on all comers, and there were no release forms to sign. Try and correlate that!!

    October 21, 2011 at 4:15 pm

  6. Love it. Thanks for posting.

    November 3, 2011 at 5:47 am

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