Champanier mural - Alice Flies over the East River
In 1936, Abram Champanier painted a large, multi-panel mural, entitled “Alice in Wonderland,” in the children’s ward of the old Gouverneur Hospital on Water Street, with funds provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The oil-on-canvas murals were all seven feet high, of varying widths, with subjects such as, “Alice Steps Out of a Book,” “Alice Flies Over the East River Bridges” and “Alice and Her Friends in the Subway,” with imaginative images in the social-realist style.
Unfortunately, “the murals were left behind, exposed to rain and other infelicities, when the hospital was abandoned in 1961. Nearly two decades later, the building was sold, and demolition threatened. On the very brink, the 15 salvageable murals were rescued by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Art Commission and private volunteers.” (www.nytimes.com) Five of the murals were restored and distributed to new sites around the city, but the rest remain in the studio of art restorer, Alan Ferancz, and their fate is unknown. (Dolkart)
The locations of the murals, as of several years ago, were as follows:
Alice and Friends at the Statue of Liberty – Elmhurst Hospital, 79-01 Broadway, Queens
Alice and Friends at Coney Island Playground – Coney Island Hospital Emergency Room, 2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn
Alice Flies over the East River Bridges – Cumberland Neighborhood Family Care Center, 39 Auburn Place, Brooklyn
The Central Park Zoo – Lincoln Medical Center, 234 East 149th Street (destroyed)
Alice and Friends at the New York Public Library at 42nd Street – Gouverneur Skilled Nursing Facility Diagnostic & Treatment Center, 227 Madison Street
One has been destroyed (Lincoln Medical Center) and the present status of the others is uncertain. It appears that the murals at Coney Island hospital and Cumberland Health Center are still in place. http://building.nychhc.org/ArtGallery/CollectionSignatureList.aspx?
The old hospital closed in 1971 and was replaced by a new Gouverneur Hospital at 227 Madison Street in 1972. The old building became an assisted living residence called Gouverneur Court in 1994.
Bruce Bustard, A New Deal for Art (Seattle: University of WA Press, 1997) Andrew Dolkart, Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation NY Times - A Guide to the City's Depression Murals http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/panyc/champani.shtml
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