A large painting dedicated to the memory of Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old Prescott woman who dedicated her life to humanitarian causes, is in safekeeping at The Frame and I Gallery in Prescott until it travels to the state Capitol.
Mueller was killed in Syria by ISIS in February 2015.
The framed painting, complimented by a photograph of Mueller and a letter from U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, is scheduled to be unveiled Oct. 26 in the Arizona State Capitol.
Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey presented his State of the State address to an invited audience at the Prescott Resort & Conference Center. He told his special guests, Carl and Marsha Mueller, parents of Kayla, that he would honor Kayla as an Arizona hero by having a painting placed in the Capitol.
The high-resolution canvas print of the painting, called “Into the Breach,” was created by English artist Stuart Brown after he was commissioned by the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.
The realistic scene shows Army military forces breaking into terrorist quarters. The raid acknowledged Mueller by attaching her birthday date — Aug. 14 — to the mission. The scene is symbolic of the raid, which ended the life of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, terrorist leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group that kidnapped, tortured and killed Mueller.
The backstory behind the commemorative painting and its being in Prescott goes back several years. Stan Goligoski, now retired, was a 20-year U.S. Army major who served as a military commander in Afghanistan and Iraq. Goligoski, a hometown Prescott boy and graduate of Prescott High School, is now executive director of special services for the Yavapai County Education Service Agency. He wrote Gen. Milley following the raid that killed Mueller’s captors to thank him and the others for authorizing the mission. Goligoski had served with Milley while in the Middle East. Goligoski learned of the painting when Milley responded to him.
Goligoski told the Mueller family of the painting, and Carl Mueller traced it to Brown, the artist. Mueller explained he would like a copy of the painting because of its symbolic meaning to him and his family — destruction of an ISIS enclave.
Through complex negotiations, Goligoski, Mueller and Milley arranged for the painting to be given to the Mueller family on Christmas Eve 2019. Additionally, Milley sent a letter in which he explained the decision to code-name the mission to honor Kayla. That letter is also included in the frame.
When Ida Woll, owner of the Frame & I Gallery, learned of the painting, she had her staff create an attractive frame for the 65-inch-long by 39-inch-wide painting. She donated that frame, valued at more than $2,000.
Photo: Russell Johnson of The Frame and I Gallery at 229 .Gurley displayed the 65-inch by 39-inch framed painting dedicated to the memory of Prescott native Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old humanitarian who died at the hands of ISIS terrorists in Syria. The painting will be taken the Arizona State Capitol later this fall for permanent display. (Photo by Ray Newton)