The oil-on-canvas mural “Loading Cattle” by James Turnbull was painted in 1940 for what was then the Jackson post office. That building is now the Chamber of Commerce, and the mural now hangs in the new post office. The mural was funded by the Treasury Section of Fine Arts.
It is an excellent work of art with his use of cattle being loaded onto a cattle car, men on horses, and the train. The intersecting and contrasting lines of the cattle car and the loading is particularly effective.
This has an additional interesting story in that it was initially selected to be placed in the Purcell, OK post office, but the 2 cities exchanged murals after the townspeople of Jackson objected to the Purcell mural since it portrayed just cattle being rounded up. They wished their town to be portrayed as more modern and vibrant with the use of the train and loaded cattle. To their credit, trains were a large part of the town and commerce of Jackson at the time.
James Turnbull was born in St. Louis in 1909, studied journalism at the Univ. of Missouri, then the School of Fine Arts in St. Louis and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He lobbied for and was then named the director of the Missouri WPA project, resigning in 4 months to pursue art. He painted 2 murals in Missouri. During WWII, he was a war correspondent for Life magazine and after the war settled in Woodstock, NY.
Charles Swaney Park and Markowitz, Democratic Vistas, Post Offices and Public Art in the New Deal, 1984. Originally posted in the New Deal Art Registry: http://www.newdealartregistry.org/
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