Image Courtesy of Willie Allen. Used with the permission of the United States Postal ServiceŽ. All rights reserved.
Artist:E. Martin Hennings (1886-1956)
Title:The Chosen Site
Dimensions:12 ft. x 5 ft.
Medium:oil on canvas
Location:Van Buren Post Office located at 2741 Fayetteville Road, Van Buren, Arkansas
About the Mural:E. Martin Hennings was commissioned for $590 to create a mural for Van Buren, Arkansas as a result of an Honorable Mention in a Section of Fine Arts competition. Hennings used his wife and daughter as models for the women in the mural. He later reported that he had used a Mexican as a model for the father and had Americanized his features.
Mural at the time of installation. Image from the National Archives, Washington, D.C.
The mural depicts a pioneer family which has been making its way westward along the Arkansas River, facing the unknown with its hazards and dangers. They travel in a covered wagon drawn by a team of oxen, equipped with not much more than hope, courage, and a spirit of adventure. In this mural they are depicted as they have reached their destination. A promising site lies before them and here they will build their home and till the fields. Others will be coming to help make the beginning of the settlement that is to become Van Buren.
About the Artist:E. Martin Hennings was born in Pennsgrove, New Jersey, in February 5, 1886. He received his art training at the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Academy of Munich. He was the recipient of numerous prizes and awards such as an Honorable Mention in the Paris Salon of 1927 and first place in the Texas Wild Flower Competition in 1929. He is represented in museums through the nation including the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos, New Mexico, The Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, New York, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C.