Homeless artist turned pieces of wood into intricate biblical murals

CHICAGO — Shunned by the public, Ed Lantzer worked in a warehouse night and day for 20 years to create biblical murals inspired by his dreams of saints and saviors.

There is no dye, stain, or paint used in the eight-foot panels that make up his mosaics, but rather wood from 150 different kinds of trees, each lending its own shape, color or texture. Ed was homeless, and would often find his material at the bottom of a dumpster.

Scarlet fever devastated his family, killing his baby brother when Ed was a child, and impacting his brain in ways that made it difficult to write or even draw. As the years went by, anger and alcohol sent his life spiraling out of control.

"Throughout his life he was bullied, he was mistreated, he was sort of the local misfit, and through time, he really suffered a lot of hardship," said Allyson Cayce, who runs an exhibit of Lantzer's art today.

What made Ed feel most at home was reading the Bible and working in the workshop with his dad, who taught him how to cut sticks into works of art. The huge, intricate murals include hidden objects, sacred symbols and shifting perspectives.

Ed Lantzer passed away in 2009, and left one important rules about his work: no one should ever have to pay to see it. His art still touches those lucky enough to witness it.

"It starts people’s emotions and this is what people live for," Brad Bonham said.

Larry Potash has the Backstory.

For more about Ed's story, read "The Mural Writer" by Lashelle Van Houten, or find information on future exhibitions of his work at my myfatherslove.com.

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