Boston Globe complimenting Gloucester’s gorgeous WPA era murals


Did you see? Wonderful John McElhenny’s My View article to the Gloucester Daily Times thanking great work by the CPA committee and residents? And more this week in the Boston Globe? Nice to be the successful model. “In Gloucester, residents have leveraged funding for 80 units of affordable elderly housing in an old grammar school, replaced historic lead glass windows at the Cape Ann Museum, and restored Depression-era WPA murals at City Hall.”  Read more of the Boston Globe article here

Since April is National Poetry month it seems extra fitting to pause on the Charles Allan Winter mural–which by the way is notoriously difficult to photograph in that site. Nice job by photographer Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe.

In 1931, he and his wife Alice Beach Winter, also a successful artist, came to live in Gloucester year round having spent summers since 1914 and building their Mt. Pleasant studio  in 1922.  Poetry was the third mural Winter completed in Gloucester.

“Poetry is an allegory revealing the attributes of poetry,” he began to write in a series of drafts for a biographical sketch and scope of work required for this commission. Haltingly? Easily? Inspired? Occupied? We don’t know, but where to begin is something we can all relate to when looking inward and contemplating our public story.

Prior professor, a prominent and successful artist, erudite; –  there was a lot Winter could have written about himself and the project. If it were today Winter would have an easy 500+ Linkedin status. “In 1915 I made exhaustive experimental study of color in conjunction and with Robert Henri, George Bellows, John Sloan, Randall Davey and other artists who were working on similar problems.” At 67 years old, he would have been adept at polishing his artist statement –for his dealer, his art students, his magazine and illustration work, and the myriad Who’s Who of artist encyclopedic compilations that were the Facebook and Instagram calling cards of his day.

Here he is in another draft, another false start: “Harmony, Rhythm, Imagination, Thought, and Life are all personified by expressive figures while Dante and Virgil are also shown.” He picks up steam in this version:  “…The standing figure represents profound contemplation or thought- the one with the book Oration- another pouring water is Rhythm. The figure with the lyre Harmony- trimming the lamp is Life. The figure on the winged horse- Pegasus- represents imagination. Dante and Virgil are also shown in the composition. The size of the mural is 10 feet 48 inches by 9 feet 8 inches high placed at the end of a corridor. The figures are considerably over life-sized.” It was installed at the High School in August 1936, now Central Grammar apartments, the housing mentioned in the March 28 2016 Boston Globe CPA article by Renee Loth.

Winter was compelled to create these murals–the kid in the candy store he was as a boy, working for his cousin’s confectionary business in Cincinnati. But that’s another story.




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