: This photograph is a black-and-white image of a colorful mural titled "Pioneers Crossing the Ohio River," painted in 1941 by artist Michael Loew (1907-1985). The mural depicts a group of pioneers, a covered wagon, and an ox crowded together on a raft. Behind them is a body of water with hills in the background. From the rear, several men are using long poles to propel the raft forward, while in the front a young man is pulling on a rope with all of his strength to move the raft forward. Several women, one of whom is holding an infant, are grouped in the center next to the wagon, ox, a plow, and yoke.
The mural, painted in oil on canvas, is located in the former post office building in Amherst, Ohio. It measures 4-1/8 feet high by 14 feet long. The mural was funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Section of Painting and Sculpture, one of the department’s three visual arts programs instituted during the Great Depression. Established in 1934, the Section of Painting and Sculpture commissioned artists to create paintings and sculpture that would decorate new federal buildings. The commissions were awarded competitively. Unlike other cultural programs of the New Deal, the Section’s primary goal was to procure art for public buildings, not to provide work relief.
Born in New York City, artist Michael Loew was an abstract expressionist whose early works were representational, including the murals he painted for the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture. He studied at the Art Students League from 1926-1929 and worked as a stained-glass artist. He studied art in Paris from 1929-1930. In 1939 he had painted murals for the New York World’s Fair with his close friend and fellow artist, Willem de Kooning. By this time his style was shifting toward abstract expressionism. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Loew studied at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art from 1947-1949 and at the Atelier Fernand Leger from 1949-1950. Between 1956 and 1966, he taught painting at the Portland (Oregon) Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley, and at the School of Visual Arts in New York.
In 1988 photographer Connie Girard took color and black-and-white images of this mural for an article in "Timeline" magazine (June/July 1989).
View on Ohio Memory.
: AL04494 Subjects
: Mural paintings (visual works); Post office buildings--Ohio; United States. Works Progress Administration; United States. Department of the Treasury. Section of Painting and Sculpture; Loew, Michael, 1907-1985; Great Depression and the New Deal Places
: Amherst (Ohio); Lorain County (Ohio)