Murals | 1934 Works by Local Artist

Several weeks ago, fellow blogger shoreacres posted a story about murals she enjoyed while poking around the environs of Arkansas and Missouri. A visit to her post is well worth the time. I found her pictures of them and the background stories very interesting.

Soon after her post, I visit our local shopping mall which opened in 1998. It has 4 large murals on walls of the walkway depicting scenes of Iowa. They add some visual interest to the mall.

This past week two much older murals were put on public display. Originally, eight were commissioned for display by the Hotel Jefferson in downtown Iowa City in 1934. The works were done by Mildred Pelzer but were not part of the Works Progress Administration murals in which started in May 1935. After Pelzer’s murals were finished, the eight were listed as a tourist attraction on display in the hotel.

In 1949, the hotel was remodeled. The murals were taken down for storage and never put back up. In 1970, the two shown here were discovered in the basement of the hotel. Three others were discovered later in the old city hall building. Three others are still missing. These two, Railroad Arrives and Stage Ready, are now on display in the Senior Center and the Public Library in Iowa City.

Railroad Arrives | Click to embiggen

Stage Ready | Click to embiggen

More of the story about the paintings and the artist is available in this sign posted next to the railroad painting.. It needs to be enlarged for readability.

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4 thoughts on “Murals | 1934 Works by Local Artist

  1. shoreacres

    Thanks for the mention, Jim, and thanks for re-presenting these murals. Don’t you wonder how murals can go missing? I suppose it’s possible, especially if they’re somehow destroyed. Still, it’s curious.

    Preservation always is a problem. Some of my favorite side-of-building murals in Texas towns are slowly flaking away, and the carvings done from storm-destroyed trees in Galveston aren’t holding up as well as they could. Apparently some people didn’t understand that wood has to be protected from the elements — they needed a good varnisher to help them out in the beginning!

    Liked by 1 person

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