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Mater Dolorosa Accepts Gift from Tournament of Roses Association 

Monday, April 5, 2010


Father Pat Brennan, on behalf of the Mater Dolorosa Retreat House in Sierra Madre, recently accepted a gift of a reproduction of a painting from the Tournament of Roses Association.  The presentation was made by 2011 Tournament President Jeff Throop, himself a Sierra Madre resident, who described the work as encasing “the long history (of the Tournament of Roses) in one framed piece, a task not easily done.”

 The painting is the work of American Master artist Ruth Mayer, who was commissioned by the Association to produce the work in 2002 in celebration of the centennial year of Rose Bowl games.  The piece took three years to produce, and was unveiled on the eve of the New Year when the theme of the parade was “Good Times,” ironic following so closely the tragedy of September 11, 2001.  The original hangs in the Tournament House, and the presentation to the Retreat House was made in recognition of the years in which the teams that appeared in the Rose Bowl were housed at the Retreat House in the days leading up to the game.

Mayer, who acknowledged divine intervention in her concept for the painting, has a gallery in Laguna Beach and has had her work displayed worldwide, including galleries in New York for more than thirty years.  In addition to the Rose Bowl work, Mayer was commissioned in 2003 to produce a portrait of Pope John Paul II, which required her to meet on multiple occasions with the late pontiff prior to its unveiling in November, 2004.

The Rose Bowl painting, titled “Tournament of Roses – Living Brave” is an impressive piece, featuring an aerial view of the Rose Bowl with the San Gabriel mountains in the background.  Also featured in the piece are the images of Coaches Bo Shembechler and Woody Hayes, who between them coached a combined eighteen Rose Bowl games, the 2002 Parade Grand Marshal Regis Philbin, numerous floats beginning with one of the first floats as depicted in the Tournament Archives and running through a float that was built after 9/11, but in time for the 2002 parade.  The work also depicts the Tournament House, the Rose Court, the four horsemen of Notre Dame as described by sportswriter Grantland Rice in 1924 prior to their appearance in the 1925 game, military jets doing a flyover, players in action on the field, and a gorgeous view of the northwest San Gabriel Valley.  Ms. Mayer also revealed at the ceremony that one of the football players depicted in the painting is actually her dentist, noting that if you look closely, you’ll see he has “perfect teeth.” 

 In making the presentation, Throop said that “it is our joy to commemorate community organizations like the retreat house…We’re delighted to be here to present this piece of art and honored that the house is highlighting its partnership in history with us today and for the many days to come that more people will be able view this lovely piece of work.”

Father Brennan recounted some stories from the years when the teams stayed at the Retreat House, noting that Coach Shembechler had suffered a heart attack on the grounds and that Woody Hayes enjoyed having his boys stay there away from the noise and distractions.  “Something happens when you get into a place of solitude, and I’ve heard stories about some of the players that came here to this place of solitude and basically got the bejeebees scared out of them because they didn’t know how to handle it,” and drawing an appreciative laugh from the crowd by adding that he was sorry that by the time he got to Mater Dolorosa, the teams were no longer staying there, because “when they did stay here we would get maybe eight or ten seats to the game and they were really great seats.”  

Sierra Madre Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray and Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard were on hand representing the recipient and donor cities, respectively.  

The ceremony was emceed by Ron Okum, president of the 2001 – 2002 Tournament year for which the painting was originally produced.


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