"The Shadow of Crime"
“When the new courthouse was completed in January 1934, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) commissioned four of Taos’ premier artists to paint ten murals in the facility as part of the New Deal, to alleviate some of the crunching poverty resulting from the Depression…
Emil Bisttram, Ward Lockwood, Bert Phillips, and Victor Higgins…would become known as the ‘Taos Fresco Quartet.’
The original intent of the project was to have 13 panels of murals – 11 narrow vertical ones, a round medallion over the entrance, and Higgins’ large central Ten Commandments piece. The ten completed murals were originally supposed to recount events in Taos history, however at some point either the artists or their directors changed the subject of the murals to a much more serious and dramatic theme – the use and misuse of the law – described artistically in vivid scenes and titled in both English and Spanish. Commentators and contemporaries at the time of the murals noted that none of the works tended to be authentic to the “place” or “people” of Taos, explaining that “the compositions are allegorical because the historical events of Taos are yet subjects of bitter controversy.”
The murals were completed in March of 1934, after three months of work. The murals are constructed of tempera pigment mixed with distilled water and applied to a fresh coat of wet lime plaster, laid on several more coats of plaster.” (http://archinia.com)
Bert Phillips was responsible for “The Shadow of Crime” and “Obedience Casts Out Fear.”
Originally posted in the New Deal Art Registry: http://www.newdealartregistry.org/ http://archinia.com/index.php/58-publications/publications/419-taos-county-courthouse-murals "Fabulous Murals in the Old County Courthouse," The Architect's Guide to Taos
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