News about our work

Mission Dolores Digital Mural Project given California Governors Historic Preservation Award

by Office of Historic Preservation

Awarded on November 17th, 2004

This award concerns the rediscovery of wall decorations in the Mission Dolores, painted circa 1791 but covered over in 1796 by an elaborate reredos at the rear of the altar. Two volunteers - Eric Blind, an archaeologist for the Presidio of San Francisco and Ben Wood, an artist - heard of the murals and developed a process for lowering a digital camera and lights into the narrow space between the murals and reredos, taking the first-known images of the 200 year old folk art. The project brought to public view this artwork which will likely not be seen in any other manner, since public view would require demolition of the 1796 reredos.

Boxer Announces Senate Hearing On Missions Bill

by Ben Wood

Published on February 5th, 2004

Washington, D.C.- U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today announced that the Senate Energy Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks will hold a hearing on Thursday, February 5, on Boxer's legislation to restore and preserve the California Missions. Boxer said, "Each day we are finding new hidden gems in these missions. Recently, archaeologists discovered magnificent Native American murals in San Francisco's Mission Dolores that have been hidden for more than 200 years. These treasures might be lost to us forever if we fail to preserve the California Missions."

A digital projection of historic imagery onto the face of the Coit Tower

by Ben Wood

Published on May 12th, 2004

Ben Wood and Dave Mark will project imagery relating to over 200 years of San Francisco's history onto the face of Coit Tower this July 4th. This projection is a celebration of the rich indigenous heritage and history of the bay area. Ben Wood is a British born artist who creates site specific projects related to recreating historic images and superimposing them onto architectural structures. He recently undertook a projection presenting documentation of the 1791 mural at Mission Dolores. Dave Mark is a local artist, and inventor who creates 3d photography. This projection, will be a one of a kind of exhibit, presenting images relating to the history of San Francisco. The project is supported by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Telegraph Hill Dwellers Association, and the San Francisco Art Institute.

Through the Lens

by KQED Spark

Original Air Date January, 2005

In this episode of Spark, go on a visual journey with artists who are using the camera to reveal hidden realities. Ben Wood uses digital technology to retrieve and restore a centuries-old mural painted by Native American artists in San Francisco's Mission Dolores. Go on a photo shoot with video artist Ben Wood to retrieve a centuries-old mural in the Mission Dolores.

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Saved by Neglect

by Archaeology Magazine

Published May 2004

A unique record of what was probably the first contact between Native Americans and Europeans in central California has been uncovered behind the ornately carved altar at the Mission Dolores, a 228-year-old landmark church in central San Francisco. There, accessed only by a trapdoor in the mission's attic, is a 20-foot-tall, 22-foot-wide mural that was painted by Native American artists in 1791.

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Murals From 1791 Are Found at Mission

by Los Angeles Times, News Wire

Published on Friday January 30th, 2004, p. B.8

Religious murals painted by Native Americans more than 200 years ago were rediscovered behind a trapdoor and the main altar of San Francisco's historic Mission Dolores. The two men who rediscovered the forgotten murals -- freelance artist Ben Wood and archeologist Eric Blind -- have taken digital photographs of the red, black and yellow artwork done in 1791. They are projecting the images at the modern Mission Dolores Basilica next door in a display that runs through Feb. 7.

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Centuries-old murals revealed in Mission Dolores, Indians' hidden paintings open open window into S.F.'s sacred past

by Carl Nolte, San Francisco Chronicle

Published on Thursday January 29th, 2004

Two young men, one an artist, the other an archaeologist, crawled over the ancient redwood beams of San Francisco's Mission Dolores earlier this month, opened a trap door, lowered an electric light into a space behind the ornate altar - and stared into the 18th century.

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Mission Dolores Holds Hidden Secrets

by Angela Krouch, NBC Bay Area News

Published January 9th 2004

San Francisco's Mission Dolores is believed to be the oldest existing building in Northern California and even though it is so old it still holds a few surprises.

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Fun Fact

Ben Wood is the middle of a set of triplets, the others being Bryan (identical) and Richard (fraternal) When the Wood Triplets were born, they were the first triplets to be born in many years at Southlands Hospital in West Sussex, United Kingdom. Ben weighed the least at a little under 2 llbs. He is one of six boys.See news from 1980.