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Hidden Treasures: The Lane Tech Murals
At the Chicago Cultural Center, through March 1, 2009.

Eleven murals commissioned for Chicago's Lane Tech College Prep School in 1909 and 1913 form this exhibition of exemplary American muralism and present works rarely exhibited outside the school itself. Steel Mill, Construction Site, Dock Scene, and the long-lost Primitive Forge (recovered in 2004), all from 1909, are examples of naturalistic handling of scenes portraying American vitality in industry and commerce. Six later murals by Henry George Brandt show a more decorative handling of themes of the Noble Savage, in harmony with river and forest (see especially Dance, in which the long panel of primeval forest sets a scene of solitary beauty for the two graceful figures), while an additional work by Brandt, Harvest, places two powerful ox-teams and their masters, one group sowing, one reaping, as side pendants to a central depiction of Bounty personified and enthroned beneath an oak tree. These beautiful selections from Chicago's canon of historic public school art were intended to "inspire and instruct", and they do. At the Chicago Cultural Center, extended through March 1, 2009.

Image: Gordon Stevenson, Construction Site (detail), 1909

--Katherine R. Lieber

Katherine R. Lieber has edited ArtScope.net's Visual Arts reviews since 1998. Ms. Lieber is Editor and Associate Producer for ArtScope.net.

Editorial Note: Related books: Art for the People: The Rediscovery and Preservation of Progressive and WPA-Era Murals in the Chicago Public Schools, 1904-1943 (Chronicle Books: Nov 2002), A Guide to Chicago's Murals (University of Chicago Press: Apr 2001), and other books related to www.artscope.net reviews may be purchased through ArtScope.net's Amazon.com link or by clicking on the links above.

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