Art Deco Architecture

The Old Modern - Then and Now

Posts tagged american indian

57 notes &

S… Sioux City
Badgerow Building, Sioux City, IowaPhoto by Debra Jane Seltzer
Detail of a building absolutely covered in Native American themed Deco.
For an interesting take on early 20th century architecture incorporating Native motifs, see this page I stumbled on a while back on the blog Drawing on Indians. It discusses Detroit’s Penobscot Building and then moves on to themes applicable to other buildings, like the one above.

S… Sioux City

Badgerow Building, Sioux City, Iowa
Photo by Debra Jane Seltzer

Detail of a building absolutely covered in Native American themed Deco.

For an interesting take on early 20th century architecture incorporating Native motifs, see this page I stumbled on a while back on the blog Drawing on Indians. It discusses Detroit’s Penobscot Building and then moves on to themes applicable to other buildings, like the one above.

Filed under badgerow building sioux city iowa native american american indian architecture art deco facade cultural appropriation

45 notes &

Lobby Ceiling, Buffalo City Hall, Buffalo, New YorkPhoto by Wendy Darling
The ceiling is spectacular: all Native American inspired patterns, reminding me of a huge woven rug. The colors are vibrant and either not dimmed by age or very well restored. The patterns repeat in bands across the lobby floor ceilings. Just amazing!
From a write-up on the Visit Buffalo NY / Niagara web site:

The main lobby is a dramatic three-story high vaulted space with thousands of acoustic tiles featuring designs from Native American signs and symbols and colorful allegorical murals by famed New York City artist William de Leftwich Dodge.

If anyone can provide me with more info on the ceiling (not the murals, but these patterns) I would appreciate it.

Lobby Ceiling, Buffalo City Hall, Buffalo, New York
Photo by Wendy Darling

The ceiling is spectacular: all Native American inspired patterns, reminding me of a huge woven rug. The colors are vibrant and either not dimmed by age or very well restored. The patterns repeat in bands across the lobby floor ceilings. Just amazing!

From a write-up on the Visit Buffalo NY / Niagara web site:

The main lobby is a dramatic three-story high vaulted space with thousands of acoustic tiles featuring designs from Native American signs and symbols and colorful allegorical murals by famed New York City artist William de Leftwich Dodge.

If anyone can provide me with more info on the ceiling (not the murals, but these patterns) I would appreciate it.

Filed under buffalo new york state western new york erie county buffalo city hall city hall ceiling pattern geometric geometry ceiling tiles acoustic tiles native american american indian art deco architecture

22 notes &

From a write-up of the Penobscot Building in the blog "Drawing on Indians," which focuses on depictions of Native Americans over the past 500 years. Why is it written up? Because it’s covered with Native American references! Check it out!
In particular worth noting this analysis on how this is a typical example of white designers grabbing onto generic Indian designs for their own purposes:

Once again, we have a prominent example of non-Native individuals appropriating an Indian style or motif to express their nostalgia for a long ago time (in this case, for the logging camps of northern Maine).  Why  couldn’t they have used a Northwoods or lumberjack theme?  Wouldn’t that have been more appropriate considering their history?
It’s unique that they specifically decided to go with the Penobscot name (based on the river, named after the tribe).  But once again, the Indian designs come out as a complete grab bag of styles, designs, and symbolism very little of which has to do with the actual Penobscot people of northern Maine (who were certainly around in the 1920s to serve as design consultants!)
Why would the “Penobscot Building” include sculptures of Plains Indian style headdresses, southwest Indian geometric patterns, and animals ranging from foxes to turtles to eagles?
The answer is simple.  The designers weren’t actually going for a Penobscot theme but rather a generic “Indian” theme in which the most visually striking but culturally divergent elements are pulled together to fulfill the designers’ notions of Indianness.
In so many ways, the Indian figures throughout the Penobscot Building represent America’s thoughts and feelings about Native people in the early 20th century.  The cold stone bodies represent a people immobile, stuck in place and unable to change.  The stoic expressions represent a people devoid of emotion and sentiment, yet somehow appear both proud and sad.  They are forever linked to both Nature and the primitive ways of the past.  Like classical Greek columns or Gothic spires, they are rich with meaning and symbolism, put on display for all the world to see.
The Penobscot Building is above all an artifact.  It is an item from the past whose elements can reveal the secrets of a time long ago.
It is a truly remarkable building and worth the visit if you ever come to Detroit.

BTW, about the writer behind Drawing on Indians:
Stephen Bridenstine: I am a graduate student at the University of British Columbia where I study modern U.S. and Canadian social and cultural history. I specialize in issues of myth, memory, and representation concerning indigenous peoples and the North American fur trade. In an effort to bring attention to these topics and put my thoughts into writing, I have started blogging. I hope you appreciate the results.

From a write-up of the Penobscot Building in the blog "Drawing on Indians," which focuses on depictions of Native Americans over the past 500 years. Why is it written up? Because it’s covered with Native American references! Check it out!

In particular worth noting this analysis on how this is a typical example of white designers grabbing onto generic Indian designs for their own purposes:

Once again, we have a prominent example of non-Native individuals appropriating an Indian style or motif to express their nostalgia for a long ago time (in this case, for the logging camps of northern Maine).  Why  couldn’t they have used a Northwoods or lumberjack theme?  Wouldn’t that have been more appropriate considering their history?

It’s unique that they specifically decided to go with the Penobscot name (based on the river, named after the tribe).  But once again, the Indian designs come out as a complete grab bag of styles, designs, and symbolism very little of which has to do with the actual Penobscot people of northern Maine (who were certainly around in the 1920s to serve as design consultants!)

Why would the “Penobscot Building” include sculptures of Plains Indian style headdresses, southwest Indian geometric patterns, and animals ranging from foxes to turtles to eagles?

The answer is simple.  The designers weren’t actually going for a Penobscot theme but rather a generic “Indian” theme in which the most visually striking but culturally divergent elements are pulled together to fulfill the designers’ notions of Indianness.

In so many ways, the Indian figures throughout the Penobscot Building represent America’s thoughts and feelings about Native people in the early 20th century.  The cold stone bodies represent a people immobile, stuck in place and unable to change.  The stoic expressions represent a people devoid of emotion and sentiment, yet somehow appear both proud and sad.  They are forever linked to both Nature and the primitive ways of the past.  Like classical Greek columns or Gothic spires, they are rich with meaning and symbolism, put on display for all the world to see.

The Penobscot Building is above all an artifact.  It is an item from the past whose elements can reveal the secrets of a time long ago.

It is a truly remarkable building and worth the visit if you ever come to Detroit.

BTW, about the writer behind Drawing on Indians:

Stephen BridenstineI am a graduate student at the University of British Columbia where I study modern U.S. and Canadian social and cultural history. I specialize in issues of myth, memory, and representation concerning indigenous peoples and the North American fur trade. In an effort to bring attention to these topics and put my thoughts into writing, I have started blogging. I hope you appreciate the results.

Filed under penobscot penobscot building detroit michigan art deco architecture skyscraper 1920s native american american indian cultural appropriation indigenous peoples ethnocentrism racism history art history corrado parducci

4 notes &

Mural, Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago, Illinoisby Terence Faircloth
Huge painting in the school auditorium. Wow.
From Flickr:

Oil on steel painting entitled “Native American Theme” by John Walley executed in 1936; the piece measures 43 ft by 20 ft. and is located in the the school auditorium of what is now the Lane Tech College Prep High School at 2501 West Addison Street on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Illinois.
The work was sponsored by the Federal Art Project which was part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) designed to provide work for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression.

Mural, Lane Tech College Prep High School, Chicago, Illinois
by Terence Faircloth

Huge painting in the school auditorium. Wow.

From Flickr:

Oil on steel painting entitled “Native American Theme” by John Walley executed in 1936; the piece measures 43 ft by 20 ft. and is located in the the school auditorium of what is now the Lane Tech College Prep High School at 2501 West Addison Street on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Illinois.

The work was sponsored by the Federal Art Project which was part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) designed to provide work for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression.

Filed under lane tech college prep high school chicago illinois 1936 1930s painting mural john walley native american american indian

64 notes &

Interior Doors, Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska by kingstreasurephoto
First of many example of amazing interiors from the building, which includes a wide variety of Native American motifs, as you see here.
From Wikipedia:

The sculptural elements of the building were designed by sculptor Lee Lawrie. Hartley Burr Alexander,  a Lincoln native and professor of philosophy, served as “thematic  consultant.” It was Alexander’s influence that resulted in the strong  American Indian symbology, despite the wishes of [Bertam] Goodhue, who was from  the East Coast region. He felt that the incorporation of Indian designs  into the Capitol would make the building look like a tipi and would  therefore be “ruinous to the architectural design.” However, during  April 1924, two years after groundbreaking, Goodhue died. The sudden  death of the architect allowed Alexander to exert greater influence over  the artistic designs, and thereafter Indian images were incorporated.

Interior Doors, Nebraska State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska
by kingstreasurephoto

First of many example of amazing interiors from the building, which includes a wide variety of Native American motifs, as you see here.

From Wikipedia:

The sculptural elements of the building were designed by sculptor Lee Lawrie. Hartley Burr Alexander, a Lincoln native and professor of philosophy, served as “thematic consultant.” It was Alexander’s influence that resulted in the strong American Indian symbology, despite the wishes of [Bertam] Goodhue, who was from the East Coast region. He felt that the incorporation of Indian designs into the Capitol would make the building look like a tipi and would therefore be “ruinous to the architectural design.” However, during April 1924, two years after groundbreaking, Goodhue died. The sudden death of the architect allowed Alexander to exert greater influence over the artistic designs, and thereafter Indian images were incorporated.

Filed under doors nebraska state capitol state capitol lincoln nebraska 1930s art deco architecture native american hartley burr alexander bertram goodhue american indian

15 notes &

Comstock Hill Road Bridge, Merritt Parkway, Norwalk, Connecticutfrom the Library of Congress
Sculpture of Native American on one side of the bridge; the other side (coming up) shows a Pilgrim.
From the LoC:

COMSTOCK HILL ROAD BRIDGE, DETAIL OF ABUTMENT SHOWING INDIAN RELIEF SCULPTURE.  Merritt Parkway, Comstock Hill Road Bridge, Spanning Merritt Parkway, Norwalk, Fairfield, CT

I’ve spent a lot of time going through the LoC’s photo archives, which make available the Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record photos. I urge you to check them out yourself!

Comstock Hill Road Bridge, Merritt Parkway, Norwalk, Connecticut
from the Library of Congress

Sculpture of Native American on one side of the bridge; the other side (coming up) shows a Pilgrim.

From the LoC:

COMSTOCK HILL ROAD BRIDGE, DETAIL OF ABUTMENT SHOWING INDIAN RELIEF SCULPTURE.  Merritt Parkway, Comstock Hill Road Bridge, Spanning Merritt Parkway, Norwalk, Fairfield, CT

I’ve spent a lot of time going through the LoC’s photo archives, which make available the Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record photos. I urge you to check them out yourself!

Filed under merritt parkway norwalk connecticut indian american indian native american sculpture art deco architecture bridge civil engineering 1930s black and white