Black River Canal 1845

Title: Black River Canal 1845

Creator: Suzanne McCullough, Lucerne McCullough

Region: Boonville

Date: 1939

Medium: oil paint, canvas

Technique: painting

Description: During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many civic buildings like the Post Office in Boonville not only were built as part of a federal initiative, but also benefitted from the addition of government-funded art. Artists were employed under the Federal Art Project, a part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). Another similar program was the Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture. These and other federal art programs under FDR’s “New Deal” represented the only time in American history that so many artists were paid by the government to create art specifically for the benefit of a public audience. The Boonville mural was painted by twin sisters Suzanne and Lucerne McCullough. Natives of Texas who had grown up in New Orleans, they were scholarship students at the Art Students League in New York City before working as commercial artists. They won a competition in 1938 to paint two murals for the Treasury Department Section: this and another in Thomaston, Connecticut. This scene depicts the Black River Canal in 1845. In a time of widespread unemployment, historical murals like this often celebrated the productive labor of simpler times. Here the heroic stature of the laborers and townspeople is depicted against the sweeping canal landscape.

Subject: Public art, Mural painting and decoration

Rights: This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.

(No Copyright - United States, NoC-US/1.0/)

Find out more:

“Black River Canal (mural Study, Boonville, N.Y. Post Office) by Lucerne McCullough.” Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.

ID#: AO-00086

Location: US Post Office, 101 Main Street, Boonville