Wednesday, April 9, 2008

56 Year Old Mural, Take It Please!

Betcha this story will have some legs!

UPDATE: Now it's on the news! ABC13 click HERE

Peter Hurd, West Texas Farm, 1952

Peter Hurd's 16-by-47-foot mural depicting life on a West Texas farm, currently installed at MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1100 Holcombe, will be razed along with the building.

"The painting is free. But the cost of removing it from the curved wall in the building's foyer, restoring it and installing it elsewhere likely would exceed $500,000."

"Ann Hale, director of the Hurd La Rinconada Gallery in San Patricio, N.M... placed the mural's value at more than $3 million."

"Three of Hurd's paintings are displayed at Smithsonian Institution museums, including the official White House portrait of Lyndon Johnson, which the former president rejected.

"MFAH Director Peter Marzio said his museum was approached about taking the mural, but it declined because the painting was "site specific."

To complicate matters, Hurd's mural depicts white landowners and black farmworkers, making it a hot potato of racial/historical controversy. Reinstalling it in a new Cancer Center slated to be constructed on the spot is out of the question, so says William Daigneau, "[Hurd's mural] does not reflect the values of M.D. Anderson. ... There's the issue of who's running the farm, and who's working on it."

"Faculty and employees, he said, were opposed to installing the mural in a new building.

"There is a lot of science to art in a healing environment," Daigneau said, noting that the cancer center employs a consultant to help choose soothing artwork for patient areas.

Why couldn't it have been THIS mural he did for Texas Tech?

That would've been easier to save- even though it has less to do with Houston history than the work in question... Hurd's work is anachronistically reminiscent of 1930s murals, but it is also of the postwar period that John Biggers found himself engaging in upon his arrival in Houston to found the Texas Southern University Art Department. Much of his early work is within this genre, where he reflected his own values into the backwater vernacular popular in Houston.

John Biggers, Red Barn Farm, 1960

just to be oblique, one anonymous comment on the Chronicle article says:

"There is no dishonor in hauling hay. My family has done it for hundreds of years."

via Chron


Anonymous said...

i should buy this for my mansion

Unknown said...

If the painting is free, maybe I should walk into the place and chisel myself off a piece of art history.

Anonymous said...

The black and white mural at TTU which this page attributes to Peter Hurd was not painted/drawn by Peter Hurd. TTU does have a large set of murals by Hurd in Holden Hall.