Art in Red Wing

Art in Red Wing

LAURENCE E. SCHMECKEBIER
Volume: 6
Copyright Date: 1946
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 96
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsgn7
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  • Book Info
    Art in Red Wing
    Book Description:

    Art in Red Wing was first published in 1946. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. What happens to the American small community in periods of war and challenge, change and uncertainty? In an age of planning, why not look at the community basis for planning? With these two questions as a basis, the University of Minnesota, in 1943, began one of the most exhaustive studies of an American community undertaken in recent times. Red Wing, Minnesota, on the banks of the Mississippi River in Goodhue County was chosen as the “typical small American city.” Professors of education, economics, sociology, art, home economics, journalism, and public health joined with city officials and civic leaders in studying every aspect of the city and its people. Their findings are published in eleven bulletins, each devoted to an individual topic. The entire survey, entitled The Community Basis for Postwar Planning, was coordinated by Roland S. Vaile, professor of economics and marketing at the University of Minnesota, and made possible by a grant from the Graduate School. The present study, Art in Red Wing, considers the public role of art and architecture in the reconstruction of the postwar Red Wing community; examining a variety of artistic expression including housing style, civic architecture, window displays, public sculpture, and pottery._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3830-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction to Red Wing
    (pp. 1-11)

    “Art has nothing to do with business and the realities of life. Let the ladies worry about that. We’re busy.” Thus spoke a former mayor and businessman of Red Wing when questioned some time ago on the role art has played in the community life of his city.

    The purpose of this survey is to test the validity and implications of that frequently expressed opinion. As in most American communities, the ladies of Red Wing have done a great deal of worrying about this problem and in recent years have instituted a number of well-organized investigations, like those of the...

  4. A Middlewestern City
    (pp. 12-13)

    Down from the north glides the mighty Mississippi, its spacious valley rimmed on the west by sweeping bluffs, its contours determining the course of the main railroads and highways bending from the northwest to the south and east. Barn Bluff towers above the city just off the photograph at the right; a short distance below it the swift channel opens into the wide and beautiful Lake Pepin. The high bridge carries Highway 63 from Minnesota to “The Island” and the Wisconsin side of the river.

    Today there is no trace of the original Indian village that bore the name of...

  5. The Community facade
    (pp. 14-15)

    In the 1920’s automobile highways began a swift development that threatened the railroads with serious competition, but with the improved streamliners and wartime gas rationing of the 1940’s the railroad again achieved supremacy. The crack Hiawatha’s regular stop on its four-times-a-day run between Minneapolis and Chicago is an important feature in the daily routine of Red Wing’s commercial and cultural life.

    While clay, leather, and marine engines are among Red Wing’s major industries, the most important product has always been the grain produced in the rich farm areas of surrounding Goodhue County. These two photographs reveal the city’s dramatically impressive...

  6. Standard Styles of the Pioneers
    (pp. 16-20)

    The history of housing in Red Wing reveals the basic standards, styles, and problems typical of the average small community in this Northwest region during the same periods. The lodges and tepees built of saplings and covered with elm bark, buffalo hides, or crude cloth soon disappeared after the Indians were evacuated under the terms of the treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1853. From the oldest photographs and written accounts log cabins seem to have been extremely rare. Sawmills, stone quarries, brickyards, sash and door factories provided building essentials from the very first years of settlement by the pioneers,...

  7. Group Housing, Old and Modern
    (pp. 20-22)

    The average man’s home in Red Wing was built on individual contract according to standard designs that became largely a matter of builders’ habit. Closer observation will reveal peculiarities of decorative detail, plan, and construction that are identical on many houses in widely scattered sections of the city. Often these can be identified with definite personalities well known in the community as carpenters or contractors, and one can easily recognize a house built by William Wendler, Gus Swanson, or Johannes Johnson in the years around 1910, 1920, and 1930 respectively.

    During the slack season it was common practice for many...

  8. Homes for Gracious Living
    (pp. 22-26)

    The homes of the more prominent citizens of Red Wing are easily distinguishable from those of the average family just described. Their architectural styles are not based on the standardized builders’ manuals but are far more elaborate in size, decoration, and material. They give expression to the desire of their builders to be individual and distinctive, yet at the same time they reflect the current fashions and fancies of their times. Thus the succession of styles in Red Wing is a fairly accurate index to the development of domestic architecture over the entire country. Some of the earlier buildings followed...

  9. Gothic in Wood and Stone
    (pp. 26-29)

    Among early democratic institutions of the community the churches played a role equal in importance to that of education, government, and industry. Within the first two years of the city’s establishment, no less than six religious denominations had organized themselves and were holding services in the community schoolroom, the stores, business offices, and private homes of their leading members.

    A letter from one of the parishioners of Christ Episcopal Church describes how on Christmas Eve in 1857 a group met to discuss the building of a parish church. “It was decided that we should not expend more than $2500 in...

  10. Church Architecture
    (pp. 29-30)

    This selection of important churches in Red Wing represents a development of style that is characteristic of religious architecture in almost every city in this Northwest area since the Civil War. The wooden meetinghouses of the first modest years were often deliberately temporary, yet they had style and dignity. Fire was an ever-present danger and whenever they could the pioneer congregations built in stone or brick as a protection against it. They wanted, moreover, the building to look permanent; the House of God should be a place of dignity and repose.

    Such a spirit is reflected in St. Joseph’s Catholic...

  11. School Architecture
    (pp. 30-34)

    A remarkable insight into the pioneer culture of early Red Wing is given by the fact that the same year, 1855, that saw the establishment of at least six religious organizations also witnessed the publication of the first newspaper (the Red Wing Sentinel) and the building of the first institution of higher learning. Hamline University was named for the Methodist Bishop Hamline, who gave $25,000 toward its establishment in 1854. That same year a preparatory department was opened in Red Wing for a small number of students in a room over the Smith and Hayes’ store, and the first brickyard...

  12. Physical Culture Centers
    (pp. 35-37)

    The Turnverein is another institution that has now disappeared but that once played an important role in the cultural development of Red Wing. These Turner societies were organized in practically every German community throughout the Middle West primarily for purposes of physical culture but also as centers for political discussions, lectures, musical and dramatic entertainments.

    Red Wing’s Turnverein was organized in 1867, and this building was erected in 1873–75 on the village green where the library now stands. The ground floor was occupied by a commodious dining room and barroom with the living quarters for a Wirt or keeper...

  13. The Community Library
    (pp. 37-39)

    Of the many cultural institutions of Red Wing the library holds a central, and in many ways the most vital, position as fountain of the community’s intellectual life. In the days of the pioneers books were confined to the relatively restricted libraries of the schools and private homes of cultured citizens like Rev. Jabez Brooks and Judge E. T. Wilder. As mentioned before, the small library maintained by Christ Episcopal Church offered for a time the only available circulating literature. Later Dr. Charles N. Hewitt established a small library of his own for lending purposes. It remained for a second...

  14. The Community Theater
    (pp. 40-43)

    To the citizens of Red Wing, Sheldon auditorium is not merely another motion picture house, but a symbol of the community’s cultural aspirations that date back to the first decade of its history. In pioneer days the theater was as much a part of community life as the church, the school, and the newspaper. Records show that a trim river craft called “The Theater” was built in Red Wing in 1857 and stopped there regularly on its seasonal tours up and down the Mississippi with plays from a standard repertoire. A Red Wing lyceum was also founded in 1857, the...

  15. Courthouse Architecture
    (pp. 43-45)

    The history of government architecture, not only of Goodhue County but of the entire state and region, is revealed in these two buildings. The first official buildings, like the old courthouse or even the territorial capitol in St. Paul (1851), were strictly utilitarian structures in brick with a small cupola, wooden cornice, pediment, and portico in the standard Classic Revival design. The 1855 design of Hamline University (Figure 22) reflects the same utilitarian modesty in Red Wing.

    By 1858, however, the official taste had already shifted in the direction of a more elaborate and consciously artistic style, the characteristics of...

  16. Industrial Architecture
    (pp. 45-48)

    Compared to other types of architecture in Red Wing the industrial plants reveal a style that is purest in form, most genuine in functional purpose, and most progressive in development. Its aesthetics are not confused by the personal whims of the builder or by the changing fashions of society, but are based on efficient adaptation of technical means and material to the practical function of the building.

    The history of this architecture can be followed in a number of specific examples, of which the old Red Wing Iron Works and the new shoe plant represent the earliest and the latest...

  17. Business Architecture
    (pp. 48-60)

    This choice of a dozen or more commercial buildings from the downtown business section of the city gives further insight into the community’s cultural history. Unlike industrial architecture, in which construction is primarily functional and utilitarian, the commercial building, by tradition and the nature of its particular function, has had to deal with more abstract problems of style and decoration in order to give pleasure and satisfaction to both the merchant and his customers. In many ways, therefore, its problems are more social in nature and closely related to those of the Main Street mansions already described. Like the mansions,...

  18. Window Display
    (pp. 60-64)

    The study of art in the commercial advertising of Red Wing, as in any other American community, is as complex as advertising itself—or, indeed, the entire science of merchandising. Ideas and techniques of national origin are closely interwoven with those of a local character so that in most cases it is impossible to separate them.

    The nature of this intermingling, however, can be understood through a study of these characteristic designs, each of which displays widely different products to a distinct clientele. The two illustrations in Figure 53 are taken from a large book of sample display windows published...

  19. Civic Enterprise
    (pp. 64-67)

    The subject of community art as an organized effort to beautify the city may be observed from several different viewpoints. During the early 1900’s there was a very aggressive movement in that direction, with much the same aesthetic consciousness as was shown in the new architectural styles of the library, auditorium, and the Goodhue County National Bank. In 1903 a civic league was formed under the active leadership of John H. Rich, who, with the then mayor, A. P. Pierce, was largely responsible for the reorganization of the river front into a levee park (1903). The portion of this park...

  20. Sculpture in Red Wing
    (pp. 67-70)

    The function of sculpture in the average community of this area is largely to serve as memorials to persons or ideals of the past and in so doing to provide some degree of communal inspiration to posterity. The selection given in these five illustrations affords a reasonably accurate cross section of the social and artistic problems involved.

    Church sculpture either is of the decorative variety used to ornament the wooden ecclesiastical fixtures of the front platform or is the strictly subject images required for devotional purposes. In both cases the products are industrially manufactured by out-of-town companies that specialize in...

  21. Art in Red Wing Pottery
    (pp. 71-76)

    The industries based on Red Wing’s greatest natural resource date from the very first years of the town when, it will be remembered, George Wilkinson opened a brickyard in 1854 to manufacture building material for Hamline University. In the 1860’s a farmer named John Paul in the near-by town of Goodhue began the manufacture of stone crocks, butter jars, and flowerpots on a potter’s wheel with the exceptionally fine clay dug on his farm. The first stoneware industry was established in 1868 by F. F. Philleo. Within the next two decades a number of other industries were established specializing in...

  22. The Artist in Red Wing
    (pp. 76-85)

    Painting is the most personal and human of all the visual arts. No matter how bad or good the artistic quality may be considered by succeeding generations, with their different standards of judgment, the fact is that painting offers the richest insight into the world of emotions, the search for beauty and expression and the frequent frustration that results from its absence. These are extremely personal and individual matters yet they are closely woven into the cultural pattern of a community.

    The viewpoint here is determined largely by the creator of art rather than by the patron or collector of...

  23. A Word of Comment
    (pp. 85-88)

    The foregoing illustrations and factual material are given as a report on the artistic resources of this community, and the means by which its citizens have exploited them during the ninety-odd years of its existence. As a report it is not intended to present an exhaustive catalogue of every available work of art, but it does seek to clarify the major principles of artistic character and function as they exist in society today and as they have developed since the early pioneer days of this particular locality. It demonstrates one factor that has never been given proper study by American...