Gold Is Where You Find It
1934 Tyrone Comfort Born: Port Huron, Michigan 1909 Died: Los Angeles, California 1939 oil on canvas 40 1/8 x 50 1/8 in. (101.9 x 127.3 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service 1965.18.49 Not currently on view
This painting thrusts the viewer deep into a California gold mine where a sweating miner braces one foot against his powerful pneumatic drill. He is wedged into a crevice, boring holes that will be stuffed with dynamite, which will blast open new sections of the gold vein. California painter Tyrone Comfort brings the viewer uncomfortably close to this miner, stripped to his shorts and work boots in the suffocating heat of the mine. The vibrating drill fills the narrow space with jarring noise and throws dust and bits of rock at the unprotected man. Rough logs are all that hold up the low ceiling of the shaft. Comfort's vigorously painted image leaves no doubt that a professional miner needs tremendous strength and toughness to endure these conditions.
Rising gold prices during the Great Depression caused many old mines to reopen and sent the hopeful across the American West in search of new strikes. When President and Mrs. Roosevelt chose this painting to hang in the White House, it represented a rapidly rising industry helping to fuel the reviving American economy.
1934: A New Deal for Artists exhibition label
Architecture - industry - mine
Figure male - full length
Figure(s) in interior - other - mine
Object - tool - hammer
Occupation - industry - mining
New Deal - Public Works of Art Project - California
paint - oil
fabric - canvas