: This photograph is a black-and-white image of a colorful mural titled "Drift toward Industrialism,” painted in 1937 by artist Karl Anderson (1874-1956). The mural, also known as “Exodus to the Cities,” is located in the former post office building in Bedford, Ohio. The building now houses the offices of Doty & Miller Architects, 600 Broadway Avenue. As seen in the photograph, the mural surrounds an office door.
The mural portrays the widespread migration of workers, families, and young people from small towns and rural areas to large industrial cities during the late 19th century. In the lower left corner, a bearded farmer stands behind a horse-drawn plow and raises his right arm in farewell to the stream of people headed toward a cityscape visible in the background. A young girl clutches her mother’s arm and looks back at the place she is leaving and to which she’ll probably never return. An older mother embraces her daughter while an elderly man dressed in a Civil War uniform sits morosely on the sidelines.
Karl Anderson was born Carl James Anderson in Morning Sun, Ohio. His parents, Irwin M. and Emma Anderson, and their family of seven children lived in various communities in the state but eventually settled in Clyde (Sandusky County). Karl’s younger brother Sherwood, the noted American author, based his famous short-story collection "Winesburg, Ohio" on his memories of life in Clyde. Karl Anderson became a noted painter, illustrator, and engraver.
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. The post office in West Haven, Connecticut, features the second of two murals that Karl Anderson created for the program.
Anderson died in 1956 in Westport, Connecticut, where he had lived since 1912. Nicknamed “the Dean of Westport Painters,” he was part of the thriving arts community there.
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.
: AL04496 Subjects
: Anderson, Karl, 1874-1956; Mural paintings (visual works); Post office buildings--Ohio; United States. Department of the Treasury. Section of Painting and Sculpture; Great Depression and the New Deal; Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Places
: Bedford (Ohio); Cuyahoga County (Ohio)