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Clearing the Right of Way (mural study, Garrett, Indiana Post Office)

ca. 1938 Joe Cox Born: Indianapolis, Indiana 1915 Died: Raleigh, North Carolina 1997 oil on canvas mounted on paperboard 33 1/4 x 29 3/8 in. (84.3 x 74.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the Internal Revenue Service through the General Services Administration 1962.8.66 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 35B

Luce Center Label

During the 1930s, Joe Cox worked for the Works Progress Administration, a government-sponsored program that put artists to work and made them part of America’s workforce. He identified with manual laborers whose survival was at stake, and Cox’s mural study for the Garrett, Indiana, post office reflects his sympathies. He chose to show the loggers hard at work, their muscular bodies bending over their tasks. Garrett had been mapped out in the 1870s by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The Chicago division of the B&O main line ran through, carrying people and goods to Baltimore and Washington, fueling Garrett’s economy and providing work for townspeople. During the Depression, however, the railroad’s consolidation led to many layoffs. This mural would have served as a reminder of the town’s heyday, when hard work and risk taking brought prosperity.


Architecture Exterior - civic - post office

Architecture - vehicle - train

Cityscape - Indiana - Garrett

Figure group - male

Occupation - industry - lumber

Study - mural study

New Deal - Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture - Indiana


paint - oil

fabric - canvas

About Joe Cox

Born: Indianapolis, Indiana 1915 Died: Raleigh, North Carolina 1997

More works in the collection by
Joe Cox