“The Milwaukee Theatre is home to nine murals by the WPA artist Thorsten Lindberg. He was an accomplished artistic craftsman, nationally recognized for his technical skill in watercolor. Much of Lindberg’s work dating from the 1930s and early ‘40s features historical subjects of national, statewide, and local significance…
While in Milwaukee Lindberg was employed as a commercial artist and as a staff artist for many of the Works Project Administration’s (WPA) historical art projects for the Milwaukee County Historical Society, the Milwaukee Public Museum, and the County Park system…
Lindberg was selected to design and paint a series of historical murals which immortalize some of the city’s “Founding Fathers.” At the head of a grand staircase in The Milwaukee Theatre’s east rotunda is one of Lindberg’s largest murals, entitled Solomon Juneau. The mural features Juneau – Milwaukee’s first permanent white settler in 1818 – trading with area Indian tribes at the cabin he built east of the confluence of the Milwaukee and Menomonee Rivers, an area soon known as Juneautown. In an adjoining grand staircase is Solomon Juneau and Josette Vieau, depicting the wedding between Juneau and the daughter of a French-Indian trader and tribal chief, in 1820.
Three of Lindberg’s murals are found in Kilbourn Hall, where he painted Byron Kilbourn, depicting the founder of the West Side village then called Kilbourntown, Enoch Chase and E.S. Estes, who together founded an 1835 lakefront settlement in Bay View, and George H. Walker, the 1834 founder of Walker’s Point, now a South Side neighborhood.
Lindberg also used his talents to depict Wisconsin’s growing industries in what is now The Milwaukee Theatre’s box office lobby. These include Milwaukee Industries, featuring the city’s foundries, tanneries, dairies and steel and paper mills, and Wisconsin Agriculture, painted in 1944, showing a transition, with the State Capitol as a backdrop, from Wisconsin farming with hand labor and horse-drawn plow to the use of motorized tractors and other modern farm machinery. Also in the room is a portrait of Christopher Latham Sholes (1819 – 1890), the inventor of the typewriter, showing Sholes, inspired by a Muse, imagining an office full of women using his new invention.
The Wisconsin Center houses two pieces by Lindberg depicting industries that were crucial to Wisconsin’s growth and development – America’s Dairy Land, painted in 1942, and Wisconsin Loggers, done in 1943.”
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