Most of us have paid a visit to Levering Hall in our time at Hopkins, whether it’s to grab a cup of coffee, see a play in Arellano Theater, or attend an event or meeting in the Glass Pavilion. Fewer, though, have ventured up to Levering’s second floor. It’s there that you’ll find the offices of the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project and one of the more unusual art installations on campus—a swirling, psychedelic mural covering the walls and stairwell.
The mural, titled “Apocalypse,” is the work of artist Bob Hieronimus, who was hired to paint it in 1968 by University Chaplain Chester Wickwire. Wickwire’s office managed a coffee shop and music venue on Levering’s second floor called Chester’s Place, and Wickwire wanted a mural to decorate the space. The mural explores the cyclical nature of history through a dense network of symbols drawn from many world cultures.
Commissioning this bold piece of artwork was not at all out of character for Wickwire. His work went far beyond administering to the spiritual needs of Hopkins students. He was the social conscience of Hopkins for three decades, creating the tutorial project, organizing the first integrated concert in Baltimore, inviting civil rights leaders such as Bayard Rustin to speak on campus, and working tirelessly for equality and justice in Baltimore.
Happily, the “Apocalypse” mural is currently being restored by a team led by Hieronimus himself. Stop by Levering Hall this summer to take a peek at the restoration progress, and perhaps you’ll get the chance to talk to the artist himself about his work and what Hopkins was like in 1968.
- The Papers of Chester Wickwire are housed at the University of Baltimore, and our own Ferdinand Hamburger University Archives in the Brody Learning Commons holds the Records of the Office of the Chaplain/YMCA.
- McCabe, Bret. “Apocalypse Now.” Johns Hopkins Magazine. Johns Hopkins University. Summer 2013. Web. 7 July 2015.