Harlem Hospital Murals / New York City: Vertis Hayes, The Pursuit of Happiness, 1937.
It’s Labor Day weekend and that means squeezing the last few drops out of summer. Commonly regarded as a bitter-sweet ode to the close of the season, Labor Day was originally conceived by the Central Labor Union and implemented by the federal government to pay tribute to the workers who contributed to the economic and technological progress of the nation. America’s first Labor Day, in 1894, was marked with parades and festivals across the country. While there are fewer Labor Day parades these days, these seven historic sites display artwork celebrating those who have rolled up their sleeves to make this country what it is today.
Vertis Hayes created a series of 10 murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) documenting one family’s move from an ancestral African village to an American city. These murals, originally adorning the walls of the New Nurses Residence, now hang in the new Harlem Hospital Murals Pavilion. Among The Pursuit of Happiness series is one mural depicting a family overlooking their new metropolitan home, complete with an over-sized cog and crowning smoke stacks. Representing the move from agrarian roots to metropolitan dwelling for a better life, the mural’s narrative (within the larger arc of the series) is one common to the American worker at the turn of the 20th century. EverGreene conserved and relocated these murals, salvaging an element of Harlem’s rich African American narrative and history.
Kentucky State Capitol / Frankfort: EverGreene, Industry, 2009.
In 2009 EverGreene artists designed and fabricated four pendentive murals for the interior of the Kentucky State Capitol dome. Each pendentive artwork is imbued with Kentucky-specific symbology celebrating various aspects of the commonwealth’s heritage and culture. Industry depicts the Kentucky River flowing behind the figure Mercury, who represents commerce and trade. The figure on the right is manipulating a barrel of bourbon, one of Kentucky’s most notable commodities. The central figure’s anvil and hammer solidifies the Commonwealth’s history of manual labor and craftsmanship. It pays tribute to both the natural resources and our ability to cultivate them for communal benefit.
Rockefeller Plaza / New York City: Josep Maria Sert, American Progress, 1937.
Rockefeller Center’s iconic Art Deco lobby contains some of the most impressive—in both size and artistry—murals in New York City. EverGreene cleaned and conserved these distinctive murals, including Josep Maria Sert’s monumental 16’ x 41’ American Progress. The work conveys the building of modern America; men align themselves in tiers of action, handing off monumental materials, Abraham Lincoln is pictured with his hand on the shoulder of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Utah State Capitol / Salt Lake City: Various Artists, Cyclorama Murals, 1934.
The artwork in the Utah State Capitol rotunda was funded by the WPA and completed in 1934. The cyclorama, designed by Utah artist Lee Greene Richards and executed by other local artists, articulates scenes from 19th century Utah life highlighting American progress in commerce and agriculture. In 2007 EverGreene restored the decorative paint in the impressive dome, working with others who restored the murals.
Union Terminal Mosaics / Cincinnati: Winold Reiss, 1933.
The Art Deco-style Union Terminal in Cincinnati was home to 10,000 square feet of WPA mosaics by Winold Reiss. While the mosaic in the main terminal remains, most of them were relocated to the Cincinnati International Airport. The mosaics depict various industries integral to Cincinnati’s rich history and thriving economy. From soap-making to piano-manufacturing; and from WLW, once the most powerful radio station in the nation, to the Aeronautical Corporation of America, each mural pays tribute to the Ohio industries that shaped Cincinnati in the 1930’s. EverGreene cleaned and restored the Reiss murals and aided in their relocation to the airport.
Chrysler Building / New York City: Edward Trumbull, 1931.
The iconic Chrysler building defines the Art Deco aesthetic both inside and out. Its lobby murals, designed by Edward Trumbull in 1931 depicts the Chrysler Building itself and memorializes the men who built it. EverGreene cleaned and conserved the mural, stabilizing and consolidating areas of loose paint and removing layers of post-historic varnish.
U.S. Capitol Building / Washington, DC: Jeff Greene, Westward Expansion Murals, 1993.
The Westward Expansion Corridor murals, by Alan Cox, detail the growth of the US from early exploration through the 1950s. From mountain men to railroad workers, each vault commemorates those who aided in America’s geographic expansion. In 1987, EverGreene President, Jeff Greene won the national competition to complete the murals in a style compatible with Cox’s original work. The mural “Golden Spike” depicts the ceremonial final spike which joined the rails of the First Transcontinental Railroad.