"In the same way that the artists of the Hudson River School captured the cathedrals of America's natural beauty, so does Robert Hieronimus capture the inner sanctions of our nation's greatness. His artwork is the silence between the notes of the national anthem -- the esoteric symbolism and ideals that undergird our country. Hieronimus is the artist of our inner life as a nation." -- Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America
Most of you know Dr. Bob Hieronimus, the radio broadcaster, but for the first half of his adult life, Dr. Bob was known chiefly for his numerous colorful and symbolic murals and other contributions to the art world. Some of his earliest murals were filmed by Maryland Public Television in a half hour documentary called Artist of Savitria (1971) which explored the motives behind the artist's work. Below is a brief summary of the critical acclaim received by some of his better-known pieces.
Praise Hieronimuss 2,700 square foot mural The Apocalypse (1969) was widespread and immediate. Art critic Liz Quisgard stated: If Renaissance Catholicism gave us the Sistine ceiling, Twentieth Century Protestantism has given us ceiling, three walls and stairwell. It is called The Apocalypse and will be seen (but not quite believed) in Levering Hall on the Hopkins campus from now until Armageddon. The sheer size and scope of the work make Mr. Hieronimus one of the most ambitious artists in the area... Bob Hieronimus possesses many of those qualities we associate with the term genius... an unbridled imagination, an almost unlimited capacity for hard work, an unfaltering dedication to his own point of view, a vision that overrides or ignores conventional discrepancies and above all, an ability to function in the real world without selling himself out... He operates altogether outside of the real, materialistic, organization-minded 20th century world.
Forecast Magazine called Hieronimus one of the countrys best muralists.
Art critic and author Alan Barnett, Ph.D. wrote: Hieronimus has a talent for winning the cooperation of the establishment while he lives and works within the counter-culture.... Probably the first murals of the new movement to be done in Baltimore were Robert Hieronimuss in 1968 and 1969 at Johns Hopkins University, where he was again painting in the student union chapel in 1974. His Bicentennial mural was one of the works done in the neighborhoods also in that year under the auspices of the citys Department of Housing and Community Development with funds from the NEA.
Hieronimuss attractive painting and serious writing on the hermetic symbolism that absorbed a number of founding fathers, especially Jefferson, earned him the respect of the conservative establishment of Baltimore, including the mayor, who appointed him to head the art committee of the citys Bicentennial Commission. He is also the founding director of the Aquarian University of Maryland (AUM, the primal sound of occult lore.) His state-accredited school attempts to integrate the esoteric and exoteric sciences and includes a course on murals. Hieronimus has a talent for winning the cooperation of the establishment while he lives and works within the counterculture.
Kindred psychedelic and new-life-style murals were being created in the late sixties and early seventies around the country. In Baltimore, Bob Hieronimus, as early as 1968 was introducing them to staid old Johns Hopkins University and only finished six year later. He enveloped the walls and ceilings of the chapel and staircase well of the student center with occult and contemporary symbols that included the Statue of Liberty, the Russian bear, Chinese dragon, biblical prophets, and Egyptian and kabalistic imagery. He called it all The Apocalypse. Flowers and vibrating lines enrich it. There is a tonality of the whole ranging from deep wine to gold that combines with the density of detail to create a serious religious ambience. Working with assistants, Hieronimus sought the same meticulousness in painting as in his researching of the symbols. At the Graduate Club in 1969 he used tarot figures, script familiar from psychedelic posters and rippling pattern to illustrate the Lords Prayer.
Hieronimuss and Jobsons work are important examples of the early murals of the counterculture, which the term hippies tends to demean. Trying to create an alternative to bourgeois life, they use wall art as an instrument of revisualizing and reshaping the world. Both artists approached the task with a strong sense of the past and the ongoing processes of the universe.
--from Community Murals: The Peoples Art by Alan Barnett, The Art Alliance Press, 1984