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 Texas : Images : Murals : Post Office Murals

Post Office Murals

BLAZING CANVASES

Prairie Fires in Oil and Tempera

Dahlov Ipcar's Yukon, Oklahoma WPA Mural "The Run" detail showing prairie fire

Yukon, Oklahoma WPA Mural “The Run" detail
TE photo 2009

“The Run, April 22, 1889, Taking the Lead"
Second only to Indian attack, prairie fires were the most terrifying threat to pioneers. The threat continues today with recent fires in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. Kansas seems to have diminished the threat by fighting (future) fire with (intentionally set) fire. Dead grass is burned after winter throughout Kansas, eliminating potential fuel and creating fertilizing ash. A fast-burning fire twelve inches tall can easily be controlled while drought-dry 30 inch grass can ignite outbuildings, cars and homes.
Charred Kansas landscape after a controlled
Charred Kansas landscape after a controlled fire
TE photo, April 2009
Prairie Fires became the subject of at least two Depression-era murals, and provided a backdrop for another. The following gallery comes from two Oklahoma murals and one from West Texas. They are:

  • Yukon, Oklahoma, (SW Oklahoma) “The Run, April 22, 1889, Taking the Lead” Artist Dahlov Ipcar painted the oil on canvas mural in 1941
  • Madill, Oklahoma, (South Central Oklahoma) “Prairie Fire” by Ethel Magafan, a tempera painting installed in 1941. Location: Madill’s current post office
  • Brownfield, Texas: (West Texas) "Ranchers of the Panhandle Fighting Prairie Fire with Skinned Steer" by Frank Machau. Located in the Brownfield Police Headquarters (the former Brownfield post office)
  • Brownfield TX WPA Mural  detail - Ranchers of the Panhandle Fighting Prairie Fire with Skinned Steer by Frank Mechau
    Brownfield, Texas' "Fighting Prairie Fire" detail
    Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2010
    "Ranchers of the Panhandle
    Fighting Prairie Fire with Skinned Steer"
    Madill, Oklahoma - PO mural “Prairie Fire” by Ethel Magafan,  1941

    “Prairie Fire"
    Detail of Madill, Oklahoma WPA Mural by Ethel Magafan
    TE photo

    Madill, Oklahoma - PO mural “Prairie Fire” cowboy & steers, by Ethel Magafan,  1941

    “Prairie Fire" detail
    TE photo

    Fighting a Prairie Fire - Collage
    A detail from the Brownfield mural was used for the cover of the book The Texas Post Office Murals. Image left shows the detail as it appears in place, while the right side shows a reverse image for the cover.
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    This page last modified: March 9, 2010