This early 1971 original United Press International (UPI) press photo of G. Mark Mulleian was recently discovered for sale on ebay, offered by Historic Images, a website specializing in historical photos of the past. The photo shows the artist at work on his first mural size painting "Spring Crossing" high atop a scaffold in his studio at the Frank Gallery on Sutter Street, in the heart of San Francisco’s Gallery row. As controversial as it was epic, this 1972 work depicting the crucifixion of Christ was posed by the artist’s model Ron Raz on a 17 feet high cross, at a time when just down the street at Union Square, classic mime Robert Shields was performing, and intermittently, Janice Joplin, William Kunstler and countless others from the counter-culture movement would make their appearance at the gallery to watch the artist’s progress. At ground street level, the Frank Gallery’s “Spring Crossing” became one of San Francisco's main attractions. People from all over California and throughout the country would come to watch Mulleian at work on this epic piece, bearing small gifts such as flowers, letters, and wine for the artist, followed by extensive media attention throughout the U.S. and internationally for months to come. The painting took six months to complete. Mulleian was 24 years old.
Founded in 1907, UPI’s far-reaching global news operation, at its peak in the 1970s, was the equivalent to today’s CNN. Despite its mass media distribution to thousands of news papers, radio and television stations throughout the world of forty years ago, no one knows how many of the articles still survive today. This particular press release photo is considered a rare find.