Hindsight Is 2020: 1950s Collegiate Mural To Be Removed At URI

Yesterday we featured a contemporary artist who takes inspiration from the collegiate fashions of the past. Today, in contrast, we feature original collegiate fashion art from the 1950s which is scheduled to go the way of Columbus statues.

Joe College, meet the year 2020.

The iconic American figure Joe College is on the chopping block at the University of Rhode Island, just a short bridge crossing from Ivy Style headquarters in Newport. News agencies are reporting that the murals, which depict former World War II soldiers attending college on the GI Bill —instrumental in spreading the Ivy League Look nationwide — have stood for nearly 70 years, but are no longer deemed acceptable by the current student body and administration.

Local CBS affiliate writes (TV segment included in link):

Arthur “Art” Sherman was a decorated returning veteran and member of the class of 1950, a predominately all-white class.

Less than 2,000 students overall attended the university overall.

Originally, he was asked to draw cartoon-like murals in a Quonset Hut that served as an earlier site for the student union but in 1953, as the current Memorial Union was being completed, the building’s manager asked him to paint more murals in the new building’s ground.

“Oh, I loved painting that, yeah,” said Sherman, who’s now 95 years old. “I never had any formal education in painting by the way I just used to cartoon.”

The murals depict servicemen returning to Kingston, a class reunion, URI commencement, a South County beach scene, and students piled into a jalopy wearing letter sweaters.

“Well, it depicted that era,” said Sherman. “A lot of students, friends of mine, would come by and say why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that so that’s what I did so everybody chipped in.”

The mural has been left untouched for nearly 70 years.

On a few occasions, in his younger years, Sherman touched them up a few times but soon it will soon be gone for good.

“It really depicts a snapshot in time of the university’s history, important history, showing a person returning back to campus from World War II and other historical moments,” said Vice President of Student Affairs, Kathy Collins. “We’ve made a really difficult decision as we aim for the university’s future and we think about who are our students today, and who are our students going to be tomorrow.”

Collins said she’s been working for URI for the last four years and has received complaints from students.

“I have received complaints about the murals that portray a very homogeneous population predominately the persons painted and depicted on the wall are predominantly white and that does not represent who our institution is today,” said Collins. “Some of our students have even shared with us they didn’t feel comfortable sitting in that space.”

There’s an old saying that life is short but art is long. These days, under the prevailing spirit of inversion, things seem quite the opposite. Life feels interminable, while the only eternal thing about art is that it teaches us the perennial lesson that those who seek to control the future will first seek to control the past.

Enjoy the period depictions of white bucks, grey flannels, patch-pocket blazers, cricket and varsity sweaters, camel coats, college scarves, and young men smoking pipes. The Providence Journal has a high-resolution slideshow here. — CC

45 Comments on "Hindsight Is 2020: 1950s Collegiate Mural To Be Removed At URI"

  1. Functioning Adult | September 9, 2020 at 3:26 pm |

    The goal, of course, is to destroy our history and our culture. What nasty, nasty people.

  2. I’ve never cared much for murals. I care much less for self-absorbed post-adolescent iconoclasts and their administrators. Another 40 years and they, too, will have been forgotten, as if they never really mattered to anybody.

  3. Charlottesville | September 9, 2020 at 4:30 pm |

    I tend to love whimsical public art of the early to mid 20th century, including murals such as this one and those in Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle, the King Cole bar at the St. Regis, the Monkey Bar at the Hotel Elysée and others. Sorry to see this trend continuing.

  4. NaturalShoulder | September 9, 2020 at 4:31 pm |

    Never sure these days when I see an article above the removal of an offensive statute or image whether it is from the Onion or is legitimate.

  5. Doesn’t take much to offend the snowflakes that this country is becoming.

  6. Beto O'Leary | September 9, 2020 at 5:15 pm |

    I find it ironic that the person you inexplicably heaped praise upon yesterday, after years of virulently trolling ” Chenners ” is just the sort of leftist who would support the removal of these murals.

  7. I’ve always thought that “snowflakes” is such a lazy expression, sort of like “judicial activism”: people only use it when they’re complaining about events or decisions that they don’t agree with. There’s a lot to unpack in this story about art, education, history, youth, societal norms, etc., esp. for those of us with trad sensibilities. I guess some people just like to yell “you kids get off my lawn!” instead.

  8. Paul- I’m about to turn 71. I think I’ve become one of “those people”. Where’s Clint Eastwood when I need him?

  9. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (the historian from the JFK administration) wrote an excellent book entitled “The Disuniting of America.” Written from a classical liberal perspective, he outlines the dangers of unchecked multiculturalism; he was also firmly against re-writing history. Those who are interested can see him interviewed on CSPAN (tying into ‘Ivy Style,’ wears a bow tie of course) here:

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?103669-1/disuniting-america

  10. I tend to agree with the preservationists. I was told years ago when something offended me, to look away. The murals must have appealed to a significant majority to have them on exhibit that long. What also surprises me is how quickly and easily the administration caves into the activist minority. Surely the students toured the school before they attended classes. If what they found offended, attend/apply to another school that catered to their politics.

  11. John Carlos: pat yourself on the back for being self-aware, and for doing so with some humor. I’d also say that, at 71, you’ve earned the right to be one of “those people” now and then.

    Finally: if you haven’t already seen it, pick a day when you’re feeling extra-cranky and check out Clint’s “Gran Torino” – I think you’ll find it cathartic. And it’s a great movie, besides.

  12. @Beto

    I didn’t heap praise upon the artist featured yesterday. I didn’t say anything about him. The story was pitched to me by a contributor. I looked at the artist’s work and greenlighted the post.

    I don’t know who the artist is. I don’t know who you are.

  13. Paul- thanks. I’m usually not cranky at all. I know of the Clint movie to which you refer. That being said, I agree completely with the comments of Elder Prep. Get over it or move on.

  14. Beto O'Leary | September 9, 2020 at 8:05 pm |

    @ Christian The “artist” is the creep formerly known as “Bop” among other names. One of Jimmy Frost Mellor’s attack dogs. He was probably the most vile in the posts concerning you and this website. I see berkeley breathes has picked up the slack for him since he thankfully disappeared. But you can’t blame berkeley for coming on here , he’s the only one left posting on his pathetic forum. You really should check who you promote on your website Christian. He actually doxed someone on that forum once because he disagreed with him politically. Typical Marxist hypocrite.

  15. Serious question: why do you post garbage like this. Do you really not understand why this would be removed?

  16. What will URI replace the mural with now? Let me guess, a student body dressed in sweatpants, baseball caps, and cheap sneakers.

  17. According to the leftist definition of racism, merely a depiction of a “homogenous” group of white people is, in and of itself, racist. Can you just imagine applying the same kind of logic to ANY other group of people, except white people (Anglo-Saxons specifically)?
    The administration of this college is more disgusting than the students who “complained”. Anyone who “complained” should’ve been politely reminded that no one is forced to stay at this institution, and can leave at any moment, as he or she wishes.

  18. I’m sure it was just an accidental oversight that the linked article’s last line got clipped off:

    When asked what he thought about his murals being removed, he [Sherman] said, “That’s a good question. Time goes by and things change.”

    Obviously not at IS, however. Here it’s always the apocalypse.

  19. Old School Tie | September 10, 2020 at 7:49 am |

    To be fair, public spaces get updated all the time, including decorative features from bygone eras. Were this some commissioned work of art by a known artist of note, then it would be different. However, this does not really fall into that category and is clearly something subject to removal at any moment. They should have commissioned Pollock or Hopper or Rothko or whoever….

  20. In days of yore, murals were painted on walls. Nowadays, they are painted on streets. Just an observation –

  21. “The now 95-year-old Arthur Sherman told CBS 12 that “time goes by and things change” when asked about the removal.” Source: https://www.thecollegefix.com/university-to-remove-world-war-ii-murals-because-they-show-too-many-white-people/

    Ain’t that the truth. Things are changing rapidly…

  22. My name is so clever | September 10, 2020 at 9:47 am |

    What is lost on the “great offended masses” today is history. In this instance, they don’t understand that before the GI Bill, which paved the way for their own university education, college was an old boy’s club. It’s very likely that they wouldn’t have been accepted there. These murals being a contribution from the GI Bill crowd, what is the contribution from the class of 2024?

    To those who say, “get over it”, eventually complaints will be received for something you value. This current trend didn’t start with these murals and it won’t end there either. Come back in 5 or 10 years and let us know if you still think this is benign or somehow progress.

  23. An obvious but unanswered question is, what’s going to happen to the murals? The original WJAR story says only that the murals will be “taken down.” Will they be put in storage? Offered for sale? Given back to the artist and his family? Also, the URI official says that she received “complaints” from students about the murals. OK, how many complaints? Were they anonymous complaints? Were they just from students? Do any students support leaving the murals up? Come on, WJAR, do some real reporting.

  24. I, too, am offended by this! And while I’m on the subject, who let that vulgar Elvis Presley
    thrust his pelvis on television?!? Bring back Perry Como and Pat Boone, I say!

  25. Trace,
    Good questions (GQ)? Were these paintings done on the wall or a large draping canvass? If they were done on the wall, they will be sanded and painted over, or if sheet rock, it will be destroyed and replaced.

    Now, that black and white photo of Art Sherman painting should be made in to a poster-sized print, framed, and hung in the graduate reading room, where it will likely not be seen by the frivolous.

  26. Paul,
    You are correct, of course. Perry, Bing, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Deano, Ray Charles, Andy Williams, Paul Anka, Steve Lawrence, the list goes on…The worldly king has fallen.

  27. Elvis paved the way for Cardi B.

  28. C,

    Is that kinda like equating those who smoked “grass” back in the 1960s-1970s with paving the way for Methanphedimine and Heroin use in 2020?

    Cheers, BC

  29. Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show paved the way for “Cuties” on Netflix.

  30. Ivy-style at it’s racist, pseudo-intellectual best! This is right up there with all the Roger Stone fan boying from last year. Did I miss the IS post bemoaning Maine’s GOP governor’s removal of a public mural honoring labor unions and working men and women? Or posts dismaying Trump’s removal of certain Presidential portraits from public areas of the white house? Are those in queue?

  31. William Timmins | September 10, 2020 at 1:16 pm |

    I view this posting with a great degree of ambivalence. While I understand a desire by those in our society who have felt excluded to amend past transgressions, I seriously wonder if this is an over-reaction, the swinging of the pendulum too far to the left. I understand the mural depicts a homogeneous demographic of our society; but it was painted in 1950 and shows a reality at the time. College students who were returning WWII veterans attending school on the GI bill. If there is something offensive in the mural that depicts racism, offensive racial stereotypes or sexism, it should be noted and given as an explanation as to why the mural is being removed. Otherwise, I think those that “didn’t feel comfortable sitting in the space” that the mural occupies ought to reflect on the sacrifices made and the freedom preserved for all of us by those returning veterans, including their right to assemble, protest and make these type of demands.

    For what’s it’s worth, I am a Democrat. I believe in BLM, the need to monitor police activity and the desire to rid the country of symbols that glorify past transgressions and so called heroes. But I support these activities in those instances where someone has made a cogent argument / compelling case as to what the statue or plaque, or mural depicts. To the best of my knowledge, that is not the case regarding the URI mural. As is often the case with many movements, I fear the current trend will go overboard, unless specific criteria for such actions as eliminating public “art” be put in place. Thanks for your time.

  32. Mr. Timmons

    Are you aware that BLM is a well funded corporation run by trained Marxists? Check their website.

    Cheers,

    Will

  33. Functioning Adult | September 10, 2020 at 2:53 pm |

    Over Easy — Marxism is great, if you like the way things worked out in the Soviet Union, Red China, Venezuela, North Korea, East German, Cuba, pre-Thatcher England . . .

  34. Excellent question, Hardbopper. I took “taken down” to mean that the works are on panels and can be readily removed from the wall. That may be the case. According to the Providence Journal article, Sherman’s daughter and URI are discussing preserving the murals in some way, which, I would think, implies that they can removed without damaging them. However, if they can’t be “taken down” without being damaged or destroyed, URI may have to contend with legal issues under the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990.

  35. Over Easy

    Bless your heart.

    In the interest of ivy, white Oxford, Bill’s khakis, navy with pink bar stripped BB tie, blue car coat and old Alden gunboats. Finally getting some rain again in Hampton Roads.

    Will

  36. Over Easy…since you know so much about Marxism, do you think Marx’s concept of surplus value can be applied to government taxation in a modern democracy and mixed economy? This is not a gotcha question. I really want an expert opinion. I am not an expert. You are.

    By the way, old boy, you will be delighted to know that I am sitting here in my madras shorts and an old Annapolis-to-Newport-race t-shirt. Pip, pip!

  37. Actually I directed Mr. Timmons to the site. Since you ask though, a simple Google search of Patrice Cullors should convince even the most skeptical.

    How did you like my wardrobe description?

    Will

  38. trace

    Sounds like a cool shirt even though it is a t shirt. Were you a skipper or crew?

    Hampton One myself for days ailing.

    Will

  39. William Timmins | September 10, 2020 at 5:54 pm |

    Will @ sacksuit; don’t mind the suggestion to check out your allegations regarding BLM. But if you are going to do so, please have the common courtesy to spell my name correctly. Once might have been an oversight, twice careless and ignorant.

  40. Bill

    Sorry I misspelled your last name. I did have the courtesy to call you Mr. though.

    Good evening comrades,

    Will

  41. Over Easy…your response to my question is largely incoherent (as are all of your comments) but I gather that your objective is to use the “rhetorical application” (whatever that means) of Marxism to disparage and ridicule Ivy Style and its readers. Advice from an old Marxist (true, back in the day): Pick up copies of Das Kapital and Value, Price and Profit and try to learn something about Marx and his theories. Perhaps then you’ll know what you’re talking about. Or maybe not. I know your type from my grad school days in philosophy at, yes, an Ivy League school. You think you’re smart but you’re not. My final question is why are you here if you loathe us? Why torture yourself?

  42. OE…IS is not a platform for political debate so this is my last word. Ivy clothes are just clothes. It was a fairly standard way of dressing for men in the 1950s and much of the ’60s. That’s it. The Ivy look was independent of wearer’s politics. Just because some guy in a button-down shirt says something that conflicts with your rather close-minded politics is no reason for you to get into a lather and feel guilty about wearing a button-down shirt. Finis.

  43. Over Easy

    You’re giving this middle aged, ivy league clothes wearing, salty, olive skinned, devilishly handsome, college drop out way more credit than he deserves. All I did was ask a question. And by the way, Timmins autocorrects to Timmons on my phone and I spelled Patrice the classic way. Sheesh.

    White OCBD today with olive pants, Trafalgar belt in cordovan, favorite Alden loafers, no socks, and a red with blue bar striped BB tie with prominent American flags and an old BB sack blazer.

    Hope you stick around. Peace brother.

    Will

  44. “We’re taking the things down because it doesn’t represent the new demographics…

    “… But also no, whites aren’t being erased and replaced, you nazi conspiracist”

    This is happening all around us and has been for some years now.

  45. Greg Hendrickson | March 3, 2021 at 2:45 pm |

    Welcome to “Cancel Culture”, where everything has to be inclusive, and have a representation of all races, all genders to include pseudo-genders…etc. With regard to art, I guess one of the greatest artists of all time, probably the greatest, at depicting American Life will be the nest to get “cancelled” because he did not include enough “minorities” in his paintings. That artist is Norman Rockwell. The problem with people who are very liberal or progressive, they take things way to far. Even President Biden declared that his cabinet will look more like America by having women and minorites dominate his cabinet. How about hiring people based on merit and not on race and gender? How about preserving our history to depict society as it was during the time periods of that historical event, and erase it because people don’t think it is fair? Something to think about.

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