Cincinnati Gets Restored Mural of City
Saturday, June 16, 2007; 2:08 PM
CINCINNATI -- Polly Magrish Stein was 14 when she first saw the 90-foot-long mural, artist Saul Steinberg's whimsical view of Cincinnati.
It was September 1948, and she and her family were dining at the new Terrace Plaza Hotel in front of the wall bearing Steinberg's creation for its Skyline Dining Room.
"It was so exciting to be at the newest hotel in Cincinnati and to be able to see our city represented in art drawn by Steinberg, who did all that great magazine work," Stein said.
This summer, she will be able to see "Mural of Cincinnati" restored to its former glory after a 10-month cleaning _ 25 years after its last public exhibition.
Steinberg, the famed illustrator for The New Yorker and other magazines, was a diverse artist who also designed fabrics and greeting cards, worked as a fashion and advertising artist and stage designer and produced sculptures and paintings displayed in galleries and museums worldwide.
He produced more than 1,000 drawings and nearly 90 covers for The New Yorker over several decades.
One of his most famous illustrations for The New Yorker was the 1976 cover "View of the World from 9th Avenue." It shows a New Yorker's perception of the world dominated by Manhattan, with New Jersey as a small brown strip and the rest of America nothing more than a small green patch with Asia barely visible in the background.
"Mural of Cincinnati," painted with black lines on a white canvas and accented with muted, pastel colors, depicts Cincinnati landmarks such as the Roebling Suspension Bridge, Tyler Davidson Fountain and the Ohio River interspersed with traffic lights, dancing couples and women in large plumed hats.
The mural was donated to the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1965 by Terrace Plaza owner John Emery Jr. when he sold the hotel. It was displayed at the museum until 1982, and will return June 23-Sept. 23.
The showing, titled "A New Yorker's View of Cincinnati," will precede the museum's July 21-Sept. 23 exhibition of "Saul Steinberg: Illuminations" _ a Steinberg retrospective now at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington.
When it opened in 1948, the Terrace Plaza Hotel and its artwork _ including a Joan Miro mural and an Alexander Calder mobile _ received national attention. Fortune magazine called the sleek, modern hotel, with little ornamentation other than its artwork, "a triumphant marriage of art and economics."
The Miro mural and the Caldwell mobile, also were donated to the museum by Emery and remain on display.