Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lindsay mural to be refurbished

The mural of Lindsay's painting, "The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus," in Downtown Springfield is getting a new lease on life. The Vachel Lindsay Association, in partnership with Downtown Springfield, Inc, is replacing the faded mural with a brand new one.

To passers-by on Fifth Street between Jefferson and Washington Streets, the mural will appear to have been restored but it actually is being replaced. Work will commence on February 1.

Both the painting and the poem of the same title celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and the intermingling of the waters of the Pacific and the Atlantic. The Rose signifies the West and the Lotus the East.

Lindsay recited the poem to Woodrow Wilson's cabinet in 1915. To a published version of the poem, Lindsay added the parenthetical notation, "A poem distributed to both houses of Congress by Secretary Franklin K. Lane on the opening day of the Panama-Pacific Exposition."

The Panama-Pacific International Exhibition opened on February 20, 1915 in San Francisco.

Springfield's mural was installed 10 years ago and has faded considerably in the last few years. The new installation will delight passers-by for many years to come.
Read the State Journal-Register article here.


SJ-R said...

I'm trying to track down Larry Stevens regarding this post. No lucking finding an email address or phone number. Please call Jayette at the SJ-R at 788-1530 at your earliest convenience. Thanks so much.

Larry Stevens said...

Thanks, Jayette Boliniski for some excellent reportage in the SJ-R today on the new mural.

Thanks for clearing up the date on the original installation (October, 1997) and the exact dimensions of the mural (8'x 16').

maureen said...

Hello, my name is Maureen Baumgartner. When I was very young (17) and on the road (inspired by Vachel's travels), the most magical night of my life was spent in the Vachel Lindsay House. I will never forget it. My hostess was a kindly old woman named Elizabeth, who knew (and clearly loved) Vachel in her youth. She told me wonderful stories about standing on the porch with the other girls as young Vachel tried out his poems on them, all of them enthralled. I lay in the big bed he was born in, with Elizabeth sitting next to me in the rocking chair, reading aloud to me from "A Handy Guide for Beggars." After she kissed me goodnight and went downstairs, I stayed awake as long as I could, the headlights of passing cars lighting up the many, many original photographs and poems hanging on the walls. I was in heaven. She trusted me, and broke all the rules, I'm sure, because she was just so shocked and pleased that I wasn't just another tourist, but an actual young person who knew about Vachel and his work and was deeply, deeply inspired by him. He was a kind of spiritual mentor for a rather lonely young girl. I had come all the way from California. I traveled long and far that summer, the summer of '77. I can't believe it's been 30 years since that special night. I know Elizabeth is long dead, but I wonder about Jay Fry (Frye?) a young (then) reporter for the Springfield Journal, who Elizabeth conspired w/to surprise me. They took me to the Carillon tower and he played for us; the next morning when Elizabeth took me to breakfast , I noticed everyone staring. I only had to look at the front page of the paper to understand: there I was, standing w/Elizabeth in front of Vachel's house, next to the headline about Vachel being my spiritual guide. It was a great article, from another lifetime. Sadly, it was lost when my mother moved. I would give anything to show it to my own (estranged) daughter. I hope that Jaye Fry is still alive, and that he remembers, too. For one day, I was a celebrity in Vachel's beloved Springfield, and people actually learned about him again; everywhere I went that day people stopped me on the street, gave me lifts, offered many kindnesses, even bought me lunch. I finally had to sneak away along the railroad tracks to make my way to the cemetery to pay my respects. What a time...

Larry Stevens said...

Maureen, that's an amazing story. Thanks for sharing.

Yes, Elizabeth Graham passed many years ago. There's a framed portrait of her in Vachel's study. You must have made quite an impression on her.

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