Images at the Crossroads Fresco
A fresco produced by artist Ben Long in the Statesville Civic Center
The influence of ancient stories and myths can be detected in much of Statesville's fresco, entitled "Images at the Crossroads". Mythology has great respect for the goddess of the crossroads as she has the power of knowing what's ahead. She is usually portrayed with three heads or faces, signifying her ability to know what is going on in every direction. The maiden stands at the heart of the fresco in the foreground. Her hand to her breast is an ancient signal of greeting - a sign of arrival.
It is no coincidence that Ben Long has chosen this image to serve as the inspiration for Statesville's fresco. Statesville is a city that also finds itself at a crossroads, faced with deciding which road is best for its future.
All the elements of what happens when paths come together and cross can be found in the medley of vignettes painted as a backdrop to the guardian of the crossroads. No one image is meant to overshadow another. It is hoped that observers will have their own response to the figures and faces in the environs of the maiden.
What is a fresco?
Fresco is the medium Michelangelo chose when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The technique involves mixing sand and lime, placing the mix on a wall and painting it while it is still wet. Fresco painting is a tenuous art. So quickly does the bonding of the pigment to wet plaster take place that great sill and meticulous planning must be maintained in order to achieve the beautiful result.
Who is Ben Long?
Ben Long grew up in Statesville and attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He studied painting at the Art Student's League in New York. After serving in the Vietnam War, Long traveled to Florence, Italy to study the work and time-honored techniques of old masters. As an apprentice to the master artisit Pietro Annigoni, he spent seven years there mastering techniques which included oil, tempera and fresco. Long's first fresco was unveiled in 1974 in Beaver Creek, North Carolina. Since then Long has painted numerous frescos around the world, including commissions in Italy, France and at seven other locations in North Carolina.