Moving pictures: Art that needs to be experienced

In more than three decades of working at this newspaper, I have written thousands of stories but few have affected me in the way the ones I’ve written about Ed Lantzer’s panels have.

The first story about Lantzer’s work was published in July with several more pieces written to follow the panels as they were brought to Marquette, set up for people to view in an exhibit called My Father’s Love.

Since all this, Ed Lantzer, who died in 2009, has crossed my mind just about daily.

For those who haven’t read the stories, Lantzer created mosaic mural panels out of more than a million half-inch diamonds of wood which were then glued together to form images. If that wasn’t amazing enough, Ed did the majority of his work while homeless, taking refuge in an abandoned schoolhouse in lower Michigan to put the art together, one tiny piece at a time.

Ed foraged for wood from many places as he did his life’s work, 30 panels each 4 feet by 8 feet. Each panel weighs about 400 pounds and depicts a moment in the life of Jesus Christ.

It’s difficult to explain the effect the panels had on me just from writing about them. Seeing them in person was profoundly moving. My life’s work is to communicate, to find the words to tell a story, but I feel as though in describing Ed’s work, I fail miserably.

Which is why I am encouraging you all to go to see the panels while you have the chance no matter what your religious background may be. They aren’t about religion so much as they are about faith.

The panels are on exhibit at 2168 U.S. 41 West in Marquette, the building between Lawry’s Pasty Shop and the AT&T store. Through April 30, the panels will be on display from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sundays; from 4 to 7 p.m. Mondays; from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays; from noon to 3 p.m. Fridays; and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

An open house is planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 for the exhibit.

Ed pops into my thoughts at different moments. Sometimes, when I am grumbling about the weather, I think of Ed in the coldest of winter days searching through dumpsters to find that perfectly colored piece of wood for a certain corner of a panel.

He crosses my mind when I worry – as I do too often – about the littlest of things over which I have no control. Ed had the deepest of faith in just keeping on with his work, though others offered no encouragement. That helps me to see how small those worries really are.

And I think of Ed when I consider the wonderful people I met through doing interviews about the panels, folks like Nancy Rife, Meg Engelhart and the Rev. Ryan Ford who have worked behind the scenes with the panels, which were first displayed this fall at St. Peter Cathedral, drawing hundreds of visitors from around the country.

Special mention must go to Lance and Diane Gauthier, who have quietly shown tremendous dedication and determination in bringing the panels to our area and making sure they are available for the public to see.

And then there’s Deb Heinzelman, who so eloquently shared her experiences in meeting and getting to know Ed for the first story I wrote about the panels. She’s an absolutely amazing person.

While the right words fail me, I hope you all stop to look at Ed Lantzer’s life work and to think, even for just a moment, about what it took for him to create such beauty, one miniscule piece at a time. You will be amazed.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is