Monday, August 04, 2008

Post Office Mural Causes Controversy

Wisconsin's Hudson Star-Observer reports, "Since the day it arrived in Hudson in 1943, the post office mural was unable to escape controversy."

Milwaukee artist Ruth Grotenrath (1912-1988), who went on to become one of Wisconsin’s most celebrated painters, received the commission to paint the mural for the downtown Hudson post office. Her instructions at the time were to consult with local officials, peruse local books and create a painting illustrating Hudson’s early days.

The mural supposedly illustrated the unloading of a river boat in Hudson. However, some felt the scene looked more like a painting of the deep South during the days of slavery. When the mural was hung in September 1943, it drew immediate criticism from local officials.

Art Conservator Anton Rajer was commissioned to touch up and move the large painting when the U.S. Government sold the building in 1999. Rajer soon discovered, however, that no one was really interested in displaying it because of the controversy surrounding it.

Rajer finally made the mural available to The Museum of Wisconsin Art and the transaction was completed in 2001.

Reporter Doug Stohlberg writes, "At the time he said that what makes the painting even more unique is that it was painted by a woman. He said it was very difficult for a woman to get a commission for painting in the early 1940s. The artist was paid $730 for the painting by the Federal Works Agency."

Rajer is quoted as saying there are 40,000 post offices in the country; only 2,000 had murals and Hudson was one of those.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM