Monday, June 1, 2009

Midland Savings Building frieze

Computers. And technology in general. It's a love hate thing with me some days, particularly now that my computer is comatose, my back-up hard drive is unresponsive and I somehow managed to loose half my pictures of Robert Garrison's magnificent frieze from the Midland Bank Building. But I am getting ahead of myself.

A 1928 booklet, "Art in Denver" has this to say about the Midland Savings Building.
"The building is also distinguished by the "Covered Wagon" frieze, executed by Robert Garrison, Denver sculptor. Incidents in the lives of the gold seekers have been interpreted humorously by Mr. Garrison through the medium of Romanesque sculpture, but in a spirit in keeping with the pioneer and with excellence of technique."

The building, designed by the well thought of (at least by me) Denver architectural firm of Fisher & Fisher, was erected in 1925, but the sculpture only lasted until 1964 when a wave of the modernism typical of the era caused the sculpture to be removed. Perhaps along with the rest of the building, I'm not sure about that. What was not typical was that some of the terra cotta panels were saved and were ultimately put on display at the Denver Botanical Gardens.

Hmmmm. They seem to have been pretty good shots too.
The panels are not something that a casual visitor is likely to discover, the content of the work being decidedly unpolitically correct, but the treatment of the pioneer women is interesting in that they are shown working and fighting right alongside the men. Not the whole frieze was preserved and an unfortunate click of my mouse seems to have lost half of the images that I took, but I think that there are enough remaining to give the viewer a sense of Garrison's remarkable work.