Hurd House Frieze (Harvest)
Hurd House Frieze (Harvest)
Oil on canvas
14 3/4 x 67 inches
Wichita Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Mr. L.R. Hurd
Not Currently on Display
About the Artwork
Walter Ufer often visited Wichita, where he met L.R. Hurd, president of the Red Star Mill company. Ufer designed and painted the Frieze for Mr. Hurd’s octagonal-shaped dining room, in his home on North Belmont Avenue, Wichita, KS. The Frieze was painted on canvas at Ufer’s home in New Mexico. This canvas was then glued to the plaster dining room walls. Mr. Hurd was a member of The Wichita Art Association and upon his death the estate presented the Frieze to the Wichita Art Museum. In 1945 the Frieze was removed and adhered to six Masonite panels. It hung at the Wichita Art Museum for many years in what is now the DeVore Gallery. In 1977 the panels were split into 11 pieces and reattached to honeycomb panels. The panels were adjusted to fit the architectural space of the 1st floor lobby near the elevators.
DESCRIPTION OF FRIEZE BY WALTER UFER
The theme for the dining room frieze in the L. R. Hurd residence represents the earlier pioneer days of the settling of the southwest, my thought, when I was asked to paint the frieze, being that Wichita in the early days was closely connected commercially with the southwest, and was considered to be on the Santa Fe Trail which is now historic and famous.
I chose the Valley of Taos, New Mexico, for Taos was also on the Santa Fe Trail. We have a very beautiful valley, Taos being almost completely surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains, excepting that the western horizon reaches in some places far over into the next divide.
I came to the conclusion that it would be appropriate if I could place, what we term in Taos, the Northern Wall on the north wall of the dining room, and what we call our East Wall and South wall on the east and south walls of the dining room; and therefore, I show on the west wall of the dining room, our West Wall. Incidentally, the dining room is built so as to show a northwest and a southwest corner; and in those two small spaces I have connected the north with the west and the west with the south.
My aim and object was to give the guests and diners seated in the dining room the impression that they were making a circle drive in the Taos Valley; and therefore, the mountain outline is a correct one and not exaggerated.
My next idea was to have an appropriate seasonal setting for the dining room. I therefore chose the autumn season which in itself suggests harvest, and we all know the meaning of harvest, as it suggests plenty for the table. The harvest season among all people also suggests a time for play after a long year’s work is done. This again I thought was appropriate for a dining room.
My next idea was to create among those that look at the frieze and eat in the dining room, a healthy, joyous feeling, a feeling that we have when our work is done and we wish to partake of food with laughter and music, and I chose a rhythmic action or motion in all the panels, plus a high key in color to bring this about. We all know that we can produce various emotions in the human brain by color and rhythm, and my aim was to produce appetite and joy.
To bring this about, I found that in order to be true to my first ideas, I had to depict the earlier life of Taos in small pictures, happenings that came about in the earlier days and in many ways are still practiced.
(essay continued on 1945.1.3)