|Post Office Murals by James Michael Newell|
These murals were photographed at the former U.S. Post Office at Des Plaines, Illinois.
They are oil paintings on canvas; I believe they are glued to the walls.
Chicago Attractions | Picasso Sculpture | Chicago Water Tower | Adler Planetarium
As a small child, I could not understand why the people at left were so unconcerned with the murders occurring 5 feet away.
The title of this mural is currently unknown. It was painted in 1947.
These murals figure in some of my earliest memories. I grew up in Des Plaines during the 1950s, and trips to the Post Office with my mother imprinted on me wonder, horror and fear at the graphic depictions of sickness and violence. I know now these period pieces are imbued with racism and brutality, a sickening reminder of the U.S. government-sponsored genocide waged against North American aboriginals; that these murals were financed by the government for display in a public government building speaks volumes about our shameful attitudes.
The Death of Pere Marquette - Oil on Canvas - James Michael Newell, 1940
This mural represents the famous explorer of the Des Plaines, Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers, at his death near Ludington, Michigan, 19 May, 1675. He died at age 39.
James Michael Newell, a fresco muralist, was born on February 21, 1900 in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. During World War I, at the age of eighteen, Newell was enlisted in the Marines. From 1921 to 1923, Newell began to sketch on trips. When Newell was 23 he moved to New York City. Between the years of 1924-1926 Newell studied at National Academy of Design and at Art Student's League.
James Newell returned to the United States in 1913. In the same year he was commissioned by Potomac Electric Power Company to paint murals in lobbies of Washington D.C. offices. During the late 1930's Newell worked under P.W.A.P. and Federal arts project painting eight murals titled "The History of Western Civilization". These murals were also the subjects of the W.P.A. firm, "The Technique of Fresco Painting." Two of Newell's works included "Alaska" and "Insular Possessions" done in the year 1939. In 1940 Newell was commissioned by the Section of Fine Arts of Federal Works Agency to paint "The Underground Railroad". This mural was placed in the Dolgeville, NY post office. In the same year Newell painted an oil on canvas named "The Death of Pere Marquette." This mural was placed in the U.S. Post Office in Des Plaines, Illinois.
At left is the front door to the former Post Office. The clerks' windows were situated under the mural at the right.
The Federal Eagle decoration over the front door was used on
hundreds of U.S. Post Offices built during the 20th Century.
North American Insects & Spiders
Explore over 7,000 close-up photos and information on over 700 species commonly found in North America. Live insects & spiders photographed in the wild.