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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Storied 'Storm Lake' WPA mural to turn 65

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Dan Rhode's "Storm Lake" is an oil on canvas mural representing the arrival of early settlers to the shores of Storm Lake.

The 26-year old Rhodes was commissioned to paint the 12-feet by 6-feet mural May 15, 1937 under the Works Progress Administration, (WPA), one of three art programs under the Section of Finer Arts, Department of the Treasury. The mural was installed December 14, 1937 in the old post office on Lake Avenue and the artist was paid $560. When Storm Lake's present post office was built on Cayuga Street, the dirty, aging mural was rescued by Dorothy Skewis. Although somewhat damaged, the mural was restored in 1988 by Wisconsin art consultant Tony Rajer. Rajer was commissioned by the Midwest Postal Department to clean and restore the work. Rhodes went on to become a well-established artist and recalled the WPA program in a letter.

"The money I received from the post office mural commission kept me alive for several years and gave me time for easel painting. We believed that the artist was coming into a better relationship with the society at large and that what we were doing would chart the future for art in public places."

The mural is now available for viewing during all normal hours at the Storm Lake Public Library.