Image Courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist:Avery E. Johnson (1906-1990)
Title:Lake County Wild Life
Dimensions:5 ft. 3 in. x 12 ft.
Medium:oil on canvas
Location:Lake Village Post Office located at 206 South Cokley Street, Lake Village, Arkansas
About the Mural: Avery Johnson was commissioned for $750 to create a mural for Lake Village, Arkansas as a result of competently designing and installing a mural in the Marseille, Illinois post office in 1938. Johnson visited Lake Village and was impressed with the abundance of wildlife within the region. He proceeded to compose a mural which extolled the natural environment of the community. In order to capture the effect of light reflecting off water and the specific texture of vegetation, Johnson applied much of his paint with a palette knife.
The mural at the time of installation. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The mural depicts a wildlife scene native to the area surrounding Lake Chicot and the town of Lake Village. In the foreground are deer, wild turkey, egrets, a squirrel, a rabbit, a snipe, and a quail. In the branches of the trees, on either side, are an opossum and a raccoon. On Lake Chicot are ducks and a boat of fishermen.
About the Artist:Avery Johnson was born in Wheaton, Illinois in 1906, married Nina Johnson, and had a daughter. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1928 and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating in 1933. He taught art at the Montclair Art Museum from 1940 to 1970 and at Neward School of Fine art and Industrial Arts from 1947 to 1960. He exhibited pieces all over the United States and President Theodore Roosevelt Edward Bruce, and King Christian of Denmark owned works by Avery Johnson during the 1940s. Johnson also composed murals for the post offices in Marseilles, Illinois, Liberty, Indiana, and Bordentown, New Jersey.
About the Location: Lake Village, the fourth seat of Chicot County, was incorporated in 1857. The town is situated along the shore of Lake Chicot. During the 1930s and 40s, the region surrounding Lake Chicot and the town of Lake Village had more deer than any other section of the state as well as a profusion of smaller wild animals and birds. In the 1500s, Hernando DeSoto, passed through the region and befriended the area.s ruling Indian, Chief Chicot. DeSoto died of swamp fever and legend has it was buried in Lake Chicot. Also, the community has a notably rich Italian Catholic tradition. Many Italian laborers were brought to Chicot County to work on plantations.
Random fact: In 1923, Charles Lindbergh launched his first night flight from a cotton field on the outskirts of Lake Village.