Image courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist: Julius Woeltz (1911-1956)
Dimensions:6 ft. x 12 ft.
Medium:oil on canvas
Location:Benton Post Office; relocated to Saline County Courthouse, 200 North Main, Benton, Arkansas, 72015
About the Mural:Julius Woeltz was commissioned for $750 to create a mural for Benton, Arkansas as a result of a sketch submitted for the Newton, Mississippi Post Office Competition. Woeltz visited Benton, talked to the citizens, and toured the local bauxite mines. Since Bauxite mining was the staple industry of the area, Woeltz chose to use such subject matter within the mural. Interestingly, Woeltz completed his final cartoon for the mural just four days after the bombing of Pearl harbor. Since Bauxite is the raw material used to make aluminum that is employed in the production of aircraft, the subject matter of the mural was quite timely. Woeltz was unable to install the mural because he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. Orville Carroll, the artist who composed the mural for Osceola, installed the mural in the Benton Post Office.
Mural at the time of installation. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The mural depicts the operations of an open-pit amine. On the left, the figures are engaged in drilling holes for dynamite that will displace the valuable ore. In the center, men are loading bauxite into carts for delivery to the plant. On the right, a man pauses to get a drink in the midst of hard labor. In the background are the various layers of earth which are removed to reach the bauxite level.
About the Artist:Julius Woeltz was born on July 7, 1911, in San Antonio, Texas. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and traveled in both France and Mexico. Woeltz was the head of the Department of Art at the Sul Ross State Teachers College in Alpine, Texas and also taught at the New Orleans Art School. He exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair and in many group shows , plus he had numerous solo exhibitions in Jackson, Mississippi, New Orleans, and San Antonio. His other work for the Section of Fine Arts includes murals in Texas fpr the Elgin and Amarillo post offices.
About the Location:Benton, in Saline County, was incorporated in 1833 and became the county seat in 1835. It was named for the Missouri Senator, Thomas H. Benton. The first post office was established in 1836. Benton's economy was closely tied to that of Bauxite, a company town located approximately five miles east of Benton. Benton was termed the bauxite capital because the area was the largest producer of bauxite ore in the country from 1899 to the 1970s.