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Parkville, Main Street

1933 Gale Stockwell Born: Kansas City, Missouri 1907 Died: Colorado Springs, Colorado 1983 oil on canvas 28 1/4 x 35 3/8 in. (71.8 x 90.0 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of Labor 1964.1.124 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

A mother and her young son walk down Main Street in this brightly colored scene of a small midwestern town overlooking the green valley of the Missouri River. Perhaps they are in downtown Parkville, Missouri, to shop in the little stores that line the street with goods piled appealingly in their front windows. Unable to find much market for his fine artworks in the Kansas City area during the Great Depression, artist Stockwell made his living as a commercial artist working for a chain of stores. He added appeal to this quiet town scene by using brilliant reds, greens, and blues like those he might have used in his advertising designs. In his commercial work, however, Stockwell was confined to creating an eye-catching version of nature. In fine art pieces like this one, he was free to choose and distribute hues for expressive purposes.

1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label

Luce Center Label

Gale Stockwell painted this scene of a street in Parkville, Missouri, for the Works Progress Administration. The old cars, colorful storefronts, and factory smokestack create a cheerful image of small-town America, despite the hardships faced by many midwesterners during the Depression. Paintings like this, which celebrate industry and community life, showed a nostalgic view of the past while also inspiring hope for the country's future.


Architecture Exterior - commercial - store

Architecture - vehicle - automobile

Cityscape - Missouri - Parkville

Cityscape - street - Main Street

Figure group - female and child

New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - Missouri


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Gale Stockwell

Born: Kansas City, Missouri 1907 Died: Colorado Springs, Colorado 1983