Artworks
Mine Rescue (mural study for Kellogg, Idaho Post Office)
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Arty Fact

mbaa's picture

Contributor

Fletcher Martin had a knack for finding trouble, or maybe it was the other way around.

In any case, Martin’s shining track record (high school dropout, lumberjack, hobo, printer) proves to be that of a man who really wasn’t going to be basic. 

Through the Public Works Art Program, Martin got a sweet gig in Kellogg, Idaho. He had to paint the mining town a mural for their post office. This was a proposal for said mural and you'd think it would be the obvious choice. Unfortunately, it was rejected by the industrialists of the American town. They didn’t want to deal with the backlash from human rights and labor activists. Kellogg wasn’t a graveyard.

The mining companies believed they were championing the energy needs of the country. They were the nation's heroes and they didn’t lose, and their employees certainly didn’t die. They sound an awful lot like Thomas Midgley, the guy who poured Tetraethyl lead on his hands in front of reporters to demonstrate its harmlessness. “There’s nothing to worry about, I’m fine”. But he wasn’t, just like the miners weren’t. But the mine owners weren’t planning on backing down anytime soon. In the words of the wise Gina Linetti, “It’s called denial, bitch!”

Fletcher couldn’t see the daisies and rainbows that the company wanted him to paint. He was looking at the men who walked into these coal mines every day of their lives, never knowing for sure if they’d make it back out again. Martin knew these guys were the real heroes.

Martin was forced to change his plan for the mural and I’m sure he wasn’t happy about it. He eventually painted a portrayal of the founder of the town, Mr. Kellogg, instead.

 

Sources

Sources

  1. “Fletcher Martin Archives.” Living New Deal. Accessed November 1, 2019. https://livingnewdeal.org/artists/fletcher-martin/.
  2. McKinzie, Richard D. “The New Deal for Artists.” New Deal Muralists: "not in harmony with existing conditions". Accessed November 1, 2019. https://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/50s/new-deal-mural.html.
  3. Hart, Arthur. “Idaho History: Fletcher Martin Was a Painter Who Loved Action and Adventure.” idahostatesman. Idaho Statesman, August 15, 2015. https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/northwest/idaho/history/article41564....
  4. Bryson, Bill. A Short History of Nearly Everything. London: Black Swan, 2006.
  5. Eldridge, David. American Culture in the 1930s Twentieth Century American Culture EUP. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008.