Tuesday, April 1, 2014



On Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 9AM to 4PM, the Potteries of Trenton Society, the New Jersey State Museum and the Trenton Museum Society will present a symposium on "Isaac Broome: America's First Ceramic Sculptor" at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium, 205 West State Street, Trenton. (Registration at the door is $40 and includes lunch.)

Keynote Speaker: 
Molly Randolph, "Isaac Broome, Ceramic Artist: His Life and Work"
Michael Padwee, "Isaac Broome: Innovation and Design in the Tile Industry
     After the Centennial Exhibition"
Ellen Denker, "The History and Artistry of Broome's Baseball Vase"


(All color photos courtesy of Michael Padwee unless otherwise noted)

In 1989 a series of seven painted mural panels, created by the artist Richard Haas, were installed on the Baxter Street facade of the White Street Detention Center (125 White Street) at the corner of Baxter and White Streets in Chinatown (Manhattan). (“CONTINUING COVERAGE: PUBLIC ART”, from The Village Voice column “Scene & Heard”, June 23, 1992; http://www.robertatkins.net/beta/witness/public/continuing.html)   “Richard Haas's artwork at the White Street Detention Center includes two sculptural friezes and a seven-paneled mural. The friezes, located on a bridge that connects Baxter and Centre Street, illustrate King Solomon and Pao Kung, a Sung Dynasty Chinese Judge.” The seven paneled mural is constructed with sculptural epoxy and cast stone, and the architects for the project were Urbahn Architects. (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/panyc/haas.shtml)  The mural is titled “Immigration on the Lower East Side”, and according to Jonathan Mandell, a journalist, had two strikes against it: “Haas’ mural is on the wall of a jail...the notorious Tombs… . [Also,]...most of the year, the mural is virtually invisible, completely obscured by the leaves of the trees that line White Street – and too high up for eye-level viewing in any case.” (Jonathan Mandell, “Is Public Art For The Public”, Gotham Gazette, May 6, 2005; http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/topics/open-government/2758-is-public-art-for-the-public)

“[The] seven panels show changing waves of immigration, beginning with people arriving on steamboats and ending with immigrants stepping down from an airplane... . 

“The middle panels show historical scenes from immigrant life in the surrounding neighborhood - people working in sewing factories and hand laundries.” (4 “The Hidden Immigrants”, The Gotham Gazette, December 2002; http://www.gothamgazette.com/citizen/dec02/original-mural.shtml)

This installation, however, “which was commissioned...by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs as part of its ‘Percent for Art Program,’ which calls for 1 percent of the budget for any new city-owned structure to be put toward the purchase or commission of an artwork for that structure,” (The New York Times, “The Art Market”, July 17, 1992; http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/17/arts/the-art-market.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm)  was not completed without controversy. “Haas' original design for the panel showing contemporary Lower East Side life - complete with a homeless person and a wrecked car - created a public-art controversy.” (“The Hidden Immigrants”, The Gotham Gazette, December 2002; http://www.gothamgazette.com/citizen/dec02/original-mural.shtml) This panel “was criticized...by a group headed by Ralph Moreiglio, a deputy warden who is treasurer of the Department of Correction Officers Hispanic Society. Members of the society said the panel offended Hispanic people. It showed a figure lying on the sidewalk next to a shuttered store whose sign read ‘bodega,’ an abandoned car and the back of a woman in rolled-up jeans, spike heels and a halter top.” (The New York Times, “The Art Market”, July 17, 1992; http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/17/arts/the-art-market.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm)

“While Haas scrupulously followed the mandatory guidelines for the Department of Cultural Affairs' Percent for Art Review Process--he made presentations to the Chinatown Planning Council in 1986 and Community Board 1 in 1988--the Hispanic Society mounted its mural protest more than two years after the work's 1989 installation.”  “CONTINUING COVERAGE: PUBLIC ART”, from The Village Voice column “Scene & Heard”, June 23, 1992; http://www.robertatkins.net/beta/witness/public/continuing.html)  

“The artist said he had not intended to offend anyone and was working on sketches for a new panel, which were to be reviewed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Hispanic Society.” (The New York Times, Ibid.)  Mr. Haas ultimately redrew the panel to show a fruit vendor, a musical group, and a circle of domino players. (“The Hidden Immigrants”, Op. Cit.

In 1991 the artist said of this work: “With these murals I intended to illustrate overlapping cultures, at a site adjacent to the 'melting pot' immigrant communities of the Lower East Side. Many immigrant cultures were represented, many with common ties, among them, Jewish, Hispanic, Chinese, and Italian. The photographs of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine at the turn of the century depicting the Ghetto communities, child labor, famous places like the Five Corners and Bandit's Roost at Mulberry Bend, were influential in some of my compositions." (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/panyc/haas.shtml )

A contemporary assessment of Haas' works states that "Murals traverse cultural and social boundaries with a rich history derived from long-standing traditions. The purpose of murals has ranged from instructional to decorative and they are created from a variety of media on virtually any surface. In the twentieth century, murals also have been used to address cultural, political, and social issues. ...Richard Haas [is] a contemporary American artist whose murals strive to mend the visual ailments and aesthetic challenges of urban environments." (https://art.unt.edu/ntieva/pages/about/newsletters/vol_12/no_2/page6.html)

The New York City “Percent for Art” Program

Since 1982 the “City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program makes art accessible and visible throughout[...the] city… . ...Percent for Art projects are site-specific and engage a variety of media—painting, mosaic, glass, textiles, sculpture, and works that are integrated into infrastructure, or architecture. ...the Percent for Art Program has been selecting professional, fine artists to create permanent public art in City-owned buildings. Local Law 65, the Percent for Art Law, states that 1% of the capital budget for newly constructed or reconstructed buildings must be spent on art.” (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/panyc/panyc.shtml) 

Since the law was passed, “more than $26 million has been spent on some 200 works of art in locations throughout the five boroughs. Because the last two decades have seen a boom in school construction, the art is mostly in schools. But some of it is in courthouses, firehouses, and libraries, and a few pieces are in far less traditional venues… .” (Jonathan Mandell, “Is Public Art For The Public”, Gotham Gazette, May 6, 2005; http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/topics/open-government/2758-is-public-art-for-the-public)

Richard Haas, 1982. (Photo ©Richard Haas, from http://www.artnet.com/awc/richard-haas.html)

Richard Haas

Richard Haas (1936- ) is “...a renowned painter and muralist, [who] has had a long and successful career in both the public and the private sectors of artistic achievement. He received his BS at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in 1959 and his MFA at the University of Minnesota in 1964. Haas has obtained many distinguished awards, grants, and commissions, including the Doris C. Freedman award, a N.E.A. award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Along with exhibiting extensively in the United States, Haas has also shown his work abroad in Germany, Japan, and France. Haas' great influence in public art can be seen throughout the United States on the walls and in the public spaces of most major cities.” (http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/panyc/haas.shtml) 

”La Salle Towers (Chicago) from south”. The high-rise was built in 1929 and was originally used as a hotel. It was renovated in the early 1980s by Weese, Seegers, Hickey, Weese and converted into an apartment complex. During the renovation, the exterior of the building was covered on three sides with trompe-l'œil murals by Richard Haas. One of the building's sides features the Chicago Board of Trade Building, intended as a reflection of the actual building two miles (3 km) south. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1211_North_LaSalle_Street; photo by Zagalejo, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Zagalejo

Haas “...is best known for architectural murals and his use of the trompe l'oeil style. His murals have been commissioned...for numerous public buildings in the United States. These include Chase Field; the Robert C. Byrd Federal Building [and] Courthouse in Beckley, West Virginia; the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Lakewood Public Library (Ohio), the Sarasota County, Florida Judicial Center and the former Board of Education building in Brooklyn, NY. One of his most renowned works, ‘Brooklyn Bridge’, couples both his artistic genius with his architectural background.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Haas)

"Fountainebleau Hotel", (1985-86, demolished 2002), Miami Beach, FL. Keim silicate paint on brick, 19,200 square feet. Commissioned by the Muss Corporation. Executed by American Illusion, New York. The large Art Deco "Arc de Triomphe" offers a view onto the original Fountainebleau Hilton Hotel, designed by Morris Lapidus, and is "lit" by two sixty-five feet high grand lamps in the form of caryatids. (Photo © by Richard Haas); http://richardhaas.com/artwork/2350462_Fountainebleau_Hotel.html)

“Haas has created fifty three exterior, trompe l’oeil murals throughout the United States and Germany to date. He first began painting large-scale murals on exterior walls while living in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood in the mid-1970s as a response to the widespread construction and urban renewal initiatives that were drastically changing the city landscape.” (Kenisha R. Thomas, The Outdoor Murals of Richard Haas: History, Challenges and Strategies for Preservation, Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree Master of Science in Historic Preservation, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, February 2013, p. 7. A full list of Haas’ outdoor murals can be found in Ms. Thomas’ thesis.)

"110 Livington Street" (2007), Brooklyn, NY. This very large project on the former Board of Education building in downtown Brooklyn was completed in the Spring of 2007. (Photo © by Richard Haas; http://richardhaas.com/artwork/2573352_110_Livington_Street.html)

“[As] a trompe-l’oeil architectural muralist, Mr. Haas...has opened panoramas where there were none, created facades that never before existed, enlivened flat walls with domes and arcades of his own invention and even recreated lost landmarks; at least in two dimensions.” (17 David W. Dunlap, “No Trompe-l’Oeil: A Muralist Loses His View”, The New York Times, December 18, 2008; http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/this-is-no-trompe-loeil-a-famed-architectural-muralist-is-losing-his-view/?_r=0

“Haas’s most provocative works are those that engage in a dialogue with a past reality and are bound in a meaningful way to their specific sites. Recently he has proposed a series of shadow murals to be painted on bland (and often bleak) city walls. These images will depict a shadow of a razed ediface that once stood nearby. He has conceived such murals for several locations. On an empty wall at the corner of 23rd Street and Park Avenue South in Manhattan, he would paint the shadow of the original late 19th-century Madison Square Garden Tower, which stood only three blocks away. He has proposed several other architectural ghosts... . To date none has been realized.” (Nancy Rosen, “Richard Haas”, Design Quarterly, No. 111/112, 1979, p. 30)

Mr. Haas has written about his use of trompe-l’oeil: "My use of trompe l'oeil...was never merely an end in itself, but a means to grab the viewer's attention. It was my hope that, once thus engaged, the viewer might seek other layers of meaning and be able to read the larger story told by the artwork. By marrying the painted architecture as closely as possible to the existing architecture, I endeavored to make the encounter with the painting as "plausible" as possible, to make one feel that it belongs where it is, that it was always part of the natural cityscape." (Richard Haas, The City is My Canvas, Prestel, New York, 2001, pp. 9-10; http://www.artnet.com/awc/richard-haas.html)

The Provident Life and Trust Company, designed by Frank Furness and built in 1879-1880 (demolished). (http://quizlet.com/3564099/19th-century-us-flash-cards/)

One such promising project, which did not come to fruition, was proposed by Haas in 1976. Haas worked on a series of proposals “returning facades of demolished structures to the locations where they once stood.” Haas concluded that “[since] it is generally impossible to reconstruct a necessary and important building removed by callous indifference, it should be possible to repaint the facade on or near the original site, as a memorial of its former existence.” Haas proposed to paint the facade of the Provident Life and Trust Company building, which was demolished in 1960, “...in its original scale on the wall adjacent to the site where it once stood in Philadelphia, near the corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets.” (Alison Sky and Michelle Stone, eds., Unbuilt America: Forgotten Architecture in the United States from Thomas Jefferson to the Space Age, SITE, Inc., 1976, p. 122)

Hass’ drawing for his Provident Life and Trust Company project, 1976. (Illustration from Alison Sky and Michelle Stone, eds., Unbuilt America Forgotten Architecture in the United States from Thomas Jefferson to the Space Age, SITE, Inc., 1976, p. 122

Many other projects were completed, however, and “..Haas’ works created between 1980 -1989[, like the Lower East Side mural,] can be considered his mid–career works. During this period his mural designs went beyond architectural detailing with its emphasis on extending or completing facades and began to include figurative imagery as well. ...It was also during this time that, instead of working with firms that specialized in mural painting, he created his own company. Called American Illusion, this company carried out the bulk of the work created in this period. The types of paints used in the creation of his murals during this period were Keim silicate paints and occasionally oil, acrylic and latex exterior paints. Twenty-eight murals were created during this timeframe with twelve murals still extant today.” (Kenisha R. Thomas, The Outdoor Murals of Richard Haas: History, Challenges and Strategies for Preservation, Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree Master of Science in Historic Preservation, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University, February 2013, p. 26)

The “Immigration on the Lower East Side” mural was one of those painted with Keim silicate paint. The mural was executed by the painter/muralist Jonathan Williams, who worked in the studio of Richard Haas for awhile, and then worked on a project-by-project basis for Haas. (http://www.jwpainting.net/read-more_murals.html) Williams wrote of his relationship to Haas and his work: “When Haas got a  commission to decorate the newly refurbished Dewitt Wallace Periodical Room, at the New York Public Library, he asked me to supervise the execution of the murals, based on his detailed maquettes.  James St. Clair, Jill Sternberg, Louis Hamlin and I painted these in a temporary studio in Brooklyn over the course of several months before installation in the library. This led, eventually, to my execution of work designed by Haas in the Philip Morris Headquarters in Manhattan, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, murals in Salt Lake City, Utah, Norfolk, Virginia, lower Manhattan, and other locations around the country.” (http://www.jwpainting.net/read-more_murals.html)

"Homage to the Chisholm Trail" mural (1985) in Sundance Square, Fort Worth, Texas, created by Richard Haas. (Photo courtesy of Matt Brown)

Richard Haas discussed his mural-making process in an interview about his 1985 “Homage to the Chisholm Trail” mural in Fort Worth Texas, which was also executed by Mr. Williams: “Once I have the owner's okay, I make drawings [with a ratio of] up to 1/2" to 1" per square foot. The contract painters [whom I hire] put a piece of clear acetate film with a grid superimposed over my original work and working square by square they can transfer the drawing accurately to the wall. For details, I send sketches on brown paper that has been perforated by a pounce machine. They [the painters] can tack the paper to the wall and rub charcoal through the holes to outline the images. Once the "cartoon" is up on the wall, the painters work from the top, lowering their rig to paint bands from top to bottom, usually using a German silicate paint, Keim, which is weather and fade resistant. ...A cement or stone surface, untreated by any paint is ideal. Sometimes the surface has to be pressure washed. Sometimes it needs to be patched and smoothed. The Keim paint works in a fresco-like manner, absorbing into the stone surface so that if the wall gets warm or absorbs water it just absorbs and evaporates. If you put an acrylic coating over the wall surface you get bubbles and peeling.”  (http://art.unt.edu/ntieva/pages/about/newsletters/vol_12/no_2/page8.html)

In a comment to the author about the process used to create the Immigration mural, Richard Haas stated that the entire series of murals were painted directly onto the cement wall niches using Keim paint. The technique was the same as that used in the Chisholm Trail mural, and both murals were painted by the same painters led by John Williams. The intended effect was that the murals would seem to be tiles. (Email from Richard Haas to Michael Padwee dated 8Jan2014) Jonathan Williams added: “By means of painted shadows and hi-lites, the illusion of three dimensionality is achieved. So while the building surface is composed of set stones, the panels comprising the mural are entirely flat painted surfaces!” (Email from Jonathan Williams to Michael Padwee dated 8Jan2014) [Richard Haas’ trompe l' oeil mural fooled my eyes when I saw it. (MP)]

Kenisha Thomas concludes that “The outdoor murals of Richard Haas are significant works of public art that perform several social functions within the built environment. His murals serve as significant markers of memory and history within the urban landscape. Each mural design is conceptualized based on a thorough understanding of the context of the site and the layered history of the town or city in which the mural is placed. Some of his murals pay homage to the architectural or industrial history of a location while others reflect on the historic origins of a given town or neighborhood. His murals bring local history to the forefront in ways that are subtly didactic. Many of his murals unknowingly become teaching tools, informing community members of an aspect of the history of their urban environment about which they may otherwise be unaware of, making his works significant local landmarks in their own right.” (Kenisha R. Thomas, p. 29)


I would like to thank Richard Haas (http://richardhaas.com/) and Jonathan Williams (http://www.jwpainting.net) for their help when I was researching this article. They graciously answered my questions, which helped me to visualize their mural-making process.

Announcement #2:

Lakefront Gallery, Hamilton, NJ. Opening reception.

My photos are currently part of a group exhibit called "Generations". The exhibit runs from March 8 through June 13 at the Lakefront Gallery, One Hamilton Health Place, Hamilton, NJ 08690. My sister, Lynn, a very talented photographer of nature subjects, will also be exhibiting. (Directions from the NJ Turnpike: Take Exit 7A to I-195 West to Exit 3B (Yardville-Hamilton Square Road). At second light make a left onto Klockner Road. At the next light make a left onto Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road. The hospital and gallery are on the left in the building with a flagpole in front.)

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