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"Kindergarden Mural Sherman School Meriden CT" by James Meikle Guy, Amer., (1909-1983)
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Gouache on thick watercolor paper, circa 1933-43, in fine condition, signed and titled in pencil by the artist on the paper overmat, which is stamped in ink "Public Works of Art Project, Region Number One, New England" on both mat and gouache several times verso. The original mat has soiling in the margins recto with edge tears and foxing to right edge, verso with light soiling only. The gouache is affixed to the overmat with a thin white watertape around the edges, as found. An early gouache maquette for a kindergarden class mural by James Guy, here signing as “Jim” Guy. Additional research is necessary to refine the dates Guy participated on the WFAP project in CT. This important CT Surrealist painter demonstrates his embrace of bright color, flattened space and dynamic perspectives; imbuing this work with his own surreal and politically charged war time sense of foreboding. While the traditional boy-girl gender-role playtime activities are pictured in vivid colors, the young participants are rendered in a monochrome Pepto-Bismall eraser pink. Reduced to ghostly placeholders, their existence in the present, and potential for the future remains uncertain. Even with the industrious domestic activities taking place in and outside this war torn ruin home, the open vulnerability of this “house of cards”offers little security. Balancing this bleak uncertainty, in the azure blue sky at right a solitary white dove approaches; a universal symbol of peace offering a note of hope. Though the concept and messsge here are powerfully presented by Guy, it is doubtful his messsge would have found favor with the Public Works of Art Project for which it was produced, or for the conservative school administators in who's school it was to be installed. With historical hindsight, today we realize this signals a potent early example of James Meikle Guy’s unique synthesis of the Surreal and Social Realist styles which would define his contributions to American Modernism.