Image Courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist:William Traher (1908-1984)
Title:Portrait of Contemporary DeWitt
Dimensions:sides: 3 ft. 11 in. x 5 ft. 2 in., center: 3 ft. 6 in. x 5 ft. 2 in.
Medium: oil on canvas
Location:DeWitt Post Office located at 221 West Cross Street, DeWitt, Arkansas
About the Mural: William Traher was commissioned $750 to create a mural for DeWitt, Arkansas on the basis of competent designs submitted in the 1939, 48-States Mural Competition. He visited the community and noted the quiet nature of the town. Because of this unique disposition he determined that a matter-of-fact composition, capturing DeWitt just as it existed, would be the most fitting. While visiting, Traher made miniature sketches of the people and the community, which he used later to piece the mural together in his studio.
The mural at the time of installation. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The murals depict the beauty and human interest to be found in the community of DeWitt. Each panel combines characteristic features of different localities. On the left is a Negro quarter and on the right a residential section. In the center panel are rice fields with a pumping station and cattle. In the background is a rice mill. The panels have been painted in varying tints and glazes in oil on white gesso ground.
About the Artist:William Traher was born April 6, 1908 in Rock Springs, Wyoming. Traher studied for three years at the National Academy of Design in New York City under Leon Kroll and Arthur Covey. He later spent one year at Yale's School of Fine Arts, earning top honors in composition from both schools. In 1935, Traher became involved with the Public Works of Art Project and created a series of murals for the Cole Junior High School in Denver and bronze memorial tablets in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
About the Location:DeWitt, in Arkansas County, was incorporated as the county seat in 1852. The name of the town was determined by a drawing, commissioners and the town's surveyor drew slips of paper to decide who would choose the name of the community. Surveyor Adam McCool won the draw and chose to name the town after DeWitt Clinton, a New York politician and the sponsor of the Erie Canal. Much of the land in and around DeWitt is used to grow corn, rice, and soybeans. In 1941, DeWitt was the home of the largest rice mill in the country, owned and operated by the Standard Rice Company until 1943.