My previous post shared some of the significant murals that have been saved and restored by airports that I included in my recent “At the Airport” column on USATODAY.com.
Here are more murals.
In Cincinnati, Ohio in 1974 a portion of the city’s Union Railway Terminal was to be demolished, fourteen 20 foot by 20 foot Art Deco mosaic tile and painted stucco murals made by Winhold Reiss in the early 1930s were moved to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, CVG.
The murals portray a wide range of local industrial history and have become a local tourist attraction. “We give around 150 tours a year for approximately 2,500 people,” said airport spokesperson Molly Flanagan, “and the murals are major part of that.”
In addition to the murals at CVG, the Art Deco-style terminal at Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport is home to two large oil-on-canvas paintings, created by William H. Gothard in 1937. “While today it is a general aviation airport, Lunken was at one time the largest commercial airport in the United States,” said Betsey Sanpere, creator of the Facebook page Arts in the Airports.
In the late 1930’s, local artist George Snow Hill created seven murals depicting the history of flight for what was then Tampa’s newly built Peter O. Knight Airport. When a new terminal was built, in 1971, the murals went along, but most ended up rolled up and improperly stored away.
A triptych showing the first scheduled airline flight in history and the panel about the Wright Brothers were displayed at the airport’s executive suite, but the murals showing contributions made by Icarus and Daedalus, Archimedes, The Montgolfier Brothers, Otto Lilienthal and Tony Jannus were getting ruined in storage.
A major mural restoration project was linked to the construction of Tampa Airport’s Terminal E and, according to airport spokesperson Brenda Geoghagan, the post-security concourse area was designed to accommodate all seven murals.
These aren’t the only airports with murals that needed to be saved. The Marine Terminal at New York’s LaGuardia Airport is home to “Flight,” a Works Project Administration mural painted in 1939-42 by James Brooks that tells the story of human flight beginning with Greek mythology on through to the mid-20th century. 12 feet high and 235 feet long, is it supposedly the largest WPA mural ever attempted. The mural was painted over in 1952, but uncovered, restored and named a city landmark in 1980.
And Sanpere, of Arts in Airports, is monitoring the six, ten-foot by ten-foot, colorful, transit-themed murals by Xavier Gonzalez currently behind protective walls at the art-deco terminal at Lakefront Airport on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. “The terminal is being accurately restored to its prior pre-Hurricane Katrina status and the entire city is waiting to see these paintings, which have been covered for decades,” said Sanpere.
While some murals need to be saved so the public can view them, at least one airport mural was created to save a view.
As part of a $35 million runway safety area improvement project completed in 2005, Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport had to relocate a creek and a roadway and construct a large embankment and a 30 foot by 800 foot retaining wall.
Rather than leave the wall blank and mar the view, the airport commissioned Eric Henn to paint a trompe l’oeil mural depicting a stone bridge, a federal style house and images from Kentucky horse farms.
The mural is so realistic-looking that “as an extra safety precaution we do publish information about the mural in publications typically accessed by visiting pilots,” said airport spokesperson Amy Caudill.