Image Courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist: Abraham Tobias (1913-1996)
Title:They Cleared the Land and Planted Cotton
Medium:oil on canvas
Location:never installed, current location unknown
About the Mural:Abraham Tobias was commissioned for $750 to create a mural for Clarendon, Arkansas only after the original artist selected was terminated due to a failure to perform in a timely manner. He was awarded the job only two months after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Tobias did not visit Clarendon, but researched the area's history and decided to create a simple design. He was the only Arkansas to deal directly with the frame of the postmaster's door. The start of World War II and the town's contention that they should focus on the war effort instead of artistic decoration resulted in an indefinite postponement of the mural's installation. Tobias's mural has never been publicly displayed.
. The mural at the time of installation. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The mural depicts a scene that extols the different aspects of work. On the left, a man fells a tree and stands to observe his accomplishment. On the right, two cotton pickers steadily gather cotton. In the center sit a mother and her two children. The woman embraces her children as she teaches them a lesson, educating them for the future.
About the Artist: Abraham Tobias was born in Rochester, New York, November 21, 1913. He lived in Glasgow, Scotland with his family until he was seven, when they returned to New York. Tobias studied at the Art Students League in New York and the Cooper Union Art School. He created numerous murals including one in Midwood High School in Brooklyn and another at Howard University in Washington D.C. Tobias had numerous one-man shows and was the artist in residence at the Adelphi University, Garden City, Long Island from 1947-1952.
About the Location:Clarendon, in Monroe County, is the county's seat of justice and was incorporated on February 8, 1859. It was known as the Mouth of Cache until 1837 and was named for the Earl of Clarendon, England. The area was settled as early as 1799 by Frenchmen along the Cache River. The community had both a ferry and a post office by 1828 and the area was the final stopping point of the stage coach line to the west. By 1911, Clarendon had both lumber and saw mills, ten factories, three banks, three hotels, ten churches and over thirty-five other businesses. Interestingly, many major league baseball players in the early 1900's used bats which were gifts of the Moss Brothers Bat Factory. In 1927 the White River flood and inundated the levee at Clarendon, causing it to break, and thus submerge the town underneath a blanket of water. The town was rebuilt and in 1937 a new levee was completed.