Image Courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist:Berta Margoulies (1907-1996)
Title: Tomato Culture
Dimensions: center: 4 ft. 3 in. x 2 ft. 4 in., sides: 2 ft. 3 in. x 2 ft. 6 in.
Medium:unglazed terra cotta
Location:Monticello Economic Development Commission located at 211 West Gaines, Monticello, Arkansas
About the Mural: Berta Margoulies was commissioned for $750 to create a mural for Monticello, Arkansas as a result of competent designs submitted in a Section of Fine Arts Competition. Margoulies method of sculpting differed from the more usual techniques. Generally, an original model was copied in another material such as stone or bronze. These reliefs, however, were modeled directly in terra cotta clay and they were then fired in a kiln. This direct method, while more difficult and exacting, preserves the special quality of the molded clay as it leaves the hand of the artist.
The mural at the time of installation. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The mural is comprised of three bas-reliefs of unglazed terra cotta illustrating tomato culture. In the large central relief, preparation of the soil is suggested by the man and two mules. In the smaller flanking reliefs, one show a woman picking tomatoes, with the plant used as a decorative motif while the other shows a male figure with baskets of picked fruit ready for market.
About the Artist:Berta Margoulies was born in Lovitz, Poland in 1907. She attended school in The Netherlands and England until 1921 when she immigrated to America. She graduated from Hunter College in New York City in 1927 with a degree in Anthropology and Languages - she was fluent in both German and French. Margoulies began taking classes at the Art Students League of New York in 1928, studying under Edward McCarten. She studied in Paris for two years at the Acadamie Julien and Academie Calarossi. Upon returning to the United States in 1931, she taught sculpture classes at Finch College in and at Five Towns Music and Art School, both in New York City.
About the Location:Monticello, in Drew County, was incorporated in 1852. The city was initially founded in 1849. Many of Drew County's early settlers were from Virginia and consequently, the community was named after Monticello, Virginia, the home of President Thomas Jefferson. Monticello has been termed the Tomato Capital of Arkansas and the town hosts a Pink Tomato Festival every June.