The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak

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The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak
Series Title:
The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak
Cuba, Stan
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:46:14 AM] Home The Murals of Colorado: Walls that SpeakThe Murals of Colorado: Walls that SpeakSubmitted by nwharton on 7-17-2012 10:53 AMAuthor: Mary Motian-Meadows and Georgia Garnsey Publishing: Boulder, CO: Johnson Books, 2012. Reviewer: Stan Cuba More than a century after statehood, Colorados art history remains in its infancy. Thus well-written and well-illustrated publications on the subject are always welcome. The latest addition is The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak by Mary Motian-Meadows and Georgia Garnsey. The volume is the extension of Motian-Meadowss interest in and previous writings about Colorados post-office murals from the 1930s and early 1940s and about Chicano artists active in the state. The Murals of Colorado has eleven chapters of varying lengths. Two of them provide a brief introduction to the mural painting tradition over the centuries and Colorados early efforts in the genre. Separate chapters are devoted to Colorado Springs native Allen Tupper True; the Broadmoor Art Academy and its successor institution, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; government-sponsored murals from the WPA era for post offices and other public buildings; privately commissioned murals during the 1930s and 1940s; and Chicano artists and examples of murals done in the late twentieth century and first decade of our own. The authors have rendered a great service in tracking down, documenting, and photographing more than 100 years worth of muralsfortunately most in colorfrom various parts of Colorado. It is a laudable effort because not all of the works are in the Denver area and thus required a lot of travel throughout the state to locate and photograph them. The reproductions are an important and useful reference because readers may have seen these murals in passing but are unaware of the artists who created them. The book could have benefited from a good editor prior to publication, eliminating repetition and wordiness in various sections to produce a smoother, flowing text enabling readers to navigate through a large amount of new, diverse material about a heretofore little-researched subject. There are some puzzling observations, such as Boardman Robinsons earlier New York work as a cartoonist and social commentator not being reflected in his Colorado Stock Sale mural from 1940 at the post office in Englewood, Colorado. The murals subject matter, selected through a national competition, was not intended as social realism focusing on the city and its problems, but instead sought to depict the American scenealso known as regionalisma democratic art with commonly recognizable images presented in easily understood styles fostered by government-sponsored public art programs during the Depression. Editorial input also would have eliminated factual errors marring the otherwise commendable effort of The Murals of Colorado For example, identifying Giorgio de Chirico as a nineteenth-century Italian artist is rather misleading because, although he was born in 1880, his creative output is primarily identified with EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanCasimiro Barela, state senator for over 37 years, fought to ensure Colorados first constitution was published in English, Spanish and German.


The Murals of Colorado: Walls that Speak | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:46:14 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us the first half of the twentieth century. The color reproduction purported to show Michelangelos Sistine Chapel actually is the mural-covered dome of another structure with classical motifs. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is erroneously described as a monolithic, pueblo-style buildinga term better applied to La Fonda Hotel and the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Artist John E. Thompson is incorrectly noted as starting Denvers Chappell School of Artit actually was established by H. A. W. Manard in 1924. The controversial Denver Armory Show (the twenty-fifth Annual Exhibition of the Denver Art Association) was held in April 1919, not in 1918 as stated in the text. These and a number of other such misstatements and spelling errors unfortunately detract from the authoritative status that The Murals of Colorado should enjoy. The book records the fate of a number of murals that have been painted over, misplaced, or destroyed at different times when the buildings housing them were demolished. The authors recount the dramatic rescue just ahead of the wreckers ball of three of five of Vance Kirklands murals from Neusteters department store in downtown Denver in the 1980s. Similarly, Albert Olsons reredos ( The Ascension and the Worshipping Angels ) apparently was ripped out when St. Marks Episcopal Church in downtown Denver was converted into a popular nightclub called The Church. Modern-day murals continue to share the same fate, including one completed in 2004 but recently painted out at the now-closed Sabor Latino Restaurant in northwest Denver. Motian-Meadows and Garnsey conclude with an important and well-organized directory of mural locations throughout Colorado facilitating access and constituting a valuable record for the future. There is also a bibliography for readers seeking to pursue the subject on their own. Perhaps their interest will bring to light the whereabouts of one or more of the murals noted as lost in the worthwhile, pioneering publication The Murals of Colorado Reviewer Info: Stan Cuba, a graduate of Columbia University in New York with a M.A. in history, is associate curator of the Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art in Denver. His written works include John F. Carlson and Artists of the Broadmoor Academy (David Cook Gallery, Denver), and he co-authored The Art of Charles Partridge Adams The Colorado Book and Pikes Peak Vision: The Broadmoor Art Academy, 1919-1945 He curated and wrote the catalogs for Olive Rush: A Hoosier Artist in New Mexico (Minnestrista Cultural Center, Muncie, Indiana), Jzef Bakos: An Early Modernist (New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe), Colorado Women Artists, 1859-1950 and Hayes Lyon: A Colorado Regionalist, 1909-1987 (Arvada Center Museum, Colorado).