The Red Cloud, Nebraska Post Office
The Red Cloud Post Office Lobby (Notice that Red Cloud has three murals!)
The Red Cloud mural utilized three panels to illustrate the advent of white settlement, the movement of the India tribes west, and cowboys loading cattle into pens.
The Artist - Archie Musick
Archie Musick, born in Kirksville, Missouri, was a student of Thomas Hart Benton and of Boardman Robinson. In the Red Cloud murals, his elongated forms in motion echo Benton's style rather than Musick's. Musick also completed other post office murals in Colorado and Missouri and in his later years, taught in Colorado.
He said that his first two mural commissions were "scenic pot-boilers on restaurant walls, (which) were happily destroyed by fire." His first important mural was a 5 X 14 foot one in the Colorado City Auditorium sponsored by the Public Works of Arts Project.
The Red Cloud Murals
"Loading Cattle" by Archie Musick, 1941 (tempera on panel)
Archie Musick's invitation to paint the Red Cloud mural was based on this sketch. But the Red Cloud postmaster and the majority of the residents of Red Cloud had their hearts set on a theme related to Chief Red Cloud, the Indian who was elected chief after he led a massacre on Fort Kearney, Wyoming. Even though he had terrorized the region, he was the town's namesake and had not been involved negatively in its history. He had simply been present at the building of the stockade.
Therefore, Archie Musick, who was not crazy about the idea of immortalizing this notorious chief, contacted government officials who "found" an additional $500.00 for an extra two side scenes, "The Stockade Builders" and "Moving Westward" (see below).
"Stockade Builders" by Archie Musick, 1941 (tempera on panel)
"Moving Westward" by Archie Musick, 1941 (tempera on panel)
In this mural, Chief Red Cloud is shown leading the Oglalla Sioux, the tribe displaced by the settlers. Musick described this scene as a "might have been" conception, since Chief Red Cloud vented his hostility against the settlers in another part of the state.
Red Cloud immortalizes two of its heroes, Willa Cather and Chief Red Cloud, with blow-up posters of commemorative stamps that were issued in their honor. They hang on the opposite end of the post office from the murals.
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