Public Art, Private Expression

Why do so many public murals seem to have a homoerotic tone?

BY Christopher Harrity

July 20 2013 4:00 AM ET


Evolution of Corn,  Lowell Houser, 1938. North wall of Ames Post Office, Iowa.


Evolution of Corn, detail.

One of the works of public art in Ames is the Post Office mural, often taken for granted by residents. Painted by a highly-talented Ames artist, Lowell Houser.  The mural was created as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s array of New Deal programs designed to provide work for unemployed artists, create decoration for public buildings, and promote depiction of the American scene.  Houser was awarded a Treasury Dept. contract for the mural on August 1, 1936.  He was paid $1,320 for the completed work that was hung on April 20, 1938. This is a perfect example of the mural that has been comissioned to enlighten the public about agriculture and history that also has the kicker of male nudity.

Tags: Art

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