National Geographic : 1948 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine gondolas. Much of the airport was built on ground created by slag. "This is an intrinsically dramatic setting," Bohrod said. "I chose the late afternoon, when the skies were darkening, so that the red-hot, diagonally descending splash would have the effect of greater than usual glow." Pittsburgh so fascinated Bohrod that after completing his work for the Gimbel Collection he painted a dozen more scenes there for his own pleasure. The Steel City also provided a subject for Adolf Dehn, of Minnesota, who surprised the art world nine years ago by turning to water colors after spending twenty years building a reputation as an expert in lithography and black-and-white wash drawings. Dehn was one of a group of artists who created a series of paintings for the United States Navy. Dehn departed from literal accuracy to create Industrial Area in Pittsburgh (Plate III). Pittsburghers, viewing the painting, have tried in vain to identify the locale. Actually, there is no such spot where the prin cipal elements-smoking mills and old-fash ioned homes in close juxtaposition-lend them selves to grouping in a single composition. The Famous Turnpike Portrayed Abandoning industrial scenes, Dehn turned to the open country for his Pennsylvania Turn pike (Plate VII), showing a section of the $70,000,000 superhighway which speeds mo tor traffic 160 miles across the southern part of the State between Carlisle and Pittsburgh. "The great, clean curves cutting through the rolling landscape were exciting," Dehn said. "The only problem I had in making the picture was a thundershower. This actually pleased me, for it made for a dramatic sky." The mood and spirit of a mellower Penn sylvania of an earlier day are reflected in Hobson Pittman's Music Room of Strawberry Mansion (Plate XI). Pittman has exhibited his work in all the important American museums and in Venice, London, and Paris. The home he depicts, in Philadelphia's Fair mount Park, was built in 1798 by Judge William Lewis, friend of George Washington. It was named for the wild strawberries which grew on the grounds. "I chose the music room of Strawberry Mansion," Pittman said, "first of all, because I am particularly fond of interiors. "There is an ageless warmth and personality throughout the house, and especially, it seems to me, in this particular room. Old things, faded things, and things that have given pleasure and happiness to generations, have always given me inspiration in my work." Fletcher Martin's choice of coal mining for his subjects seems natural in view of the artist's background. Born in Colorado, he worked as a harvest hand, lumberjack, pro fessional boxer, and sailor before taking up painting seriously. His only formal art train ing was a correspondence course in cartooning which he took at the age of ten. In 1939 he succeeded Grant Wood as art instructor at the State University of Iowa. Coal-mining Scenes Car Hoist (Plate XIII) is one of a series of mine scenes painted by Martin. "I chose the subject of coal mining," he said, "because it is a type of endeavor which has always interested me-dramatic and dan gerous work involving man against Nature. "To experience my subject, I spent many days down in the mines, observing the various operations and making numerous on-the-spot sketches. This particular painting depicts a power hoist lifting an explosives car from the shaft terminal to a point high enough so that it can be switched to the proper tunnel by gravity. "The particular mine or colliery where I worked is a Glen Alden Coal Company mine at Wilkes-Barre. The terminal shown is well over 1,000 feet below the surface. Tunnels lead away from the terminal in all directions; some follow the vein for several miles. "I might add that the miner's head lamp makes an ideal sketching light." When the collection first went on exhibition at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, it drew the largest crowds in the institution's history-4,000 persons on opening day alone. In Pittsburgh, steel puddlers rubbed elbows with college students to view the collection at the Carnegie Institute and Library. When 20,000 Pittsburghers were asked to vote for their favorite paintings, 10,000 complied and registered 99 different choices. Big crowds turned out at Harrisburg, where a precedent was set by hanging the paintings in the rotunda of the State Capitol. At State College, Reading, and many other places the public's response exceeded the highest hopes of the sponsors. After completing its tour of Pennsylvania cities and towns, by invitation the collection will visit other parts of the country and per haps inspire others to create similar artistic records of their home State. In all, it faces about five years of travel before coming to rest as the nucleus of a permanent State art exhibit. If the sponsoring committee's hopes are ful filled, the collection will be housed in a build ing specially erected for the purpose.