Sunday, July 19, 2009

Indian Memories at Colorado National Bank

Painted by Denver muralist Allen True, whose works also grace the walls of the Denver and Cheyenne capitols, the expanded Colorado National Bank interior opened to the public in December 1926. Mr. True worked on the series of fourteen murals for over three years. Reflecting the changing attitudes toward the American Indians in the 1920s, Mr. True sought to portray the Plains Indians "before his contact with the white race--days when he roamed the beautiful untouched reaches of our West in deep but unconscious sympathy with the loveliness of primeval nature--days when his dignity and cruelty, his joy of living, stoic endurance and primitive integrity, as well as beauty and superstition and religious belief, made the cycle of his life an epic which has never been properly sensed or understood by the white race."

This mural is entitled "Happy Hunting Ground".

" old leather-dry squaw sits by the edge of a waterfall, leaning eagerly and intently forward, for there in the iridescent spray she fancies that shes sees her own girlhood beckoning to her. She imagines herself young again and splashing through the water with other laughing, dancing maidens. In the morning air a mist hangs over the water and from the mist, and the shadows of the quaking aspens, appear the figures of still other girls and young mothers smiling contentedly at the happy dancers in the water."

"The once mighty chief of a warlike tribe besats the rhythm of his war chant whle the witer snows whirl past him...."

"An old buck sits in front of his chip fire and dreams..."

This series is entitled "Youth".

All of these photos were taken by Roger Whitacre and appear in the book Growing Through History with Colorado: The Colorado National Banks by Tom Noel. The quotes are from the artist himself.

As I have not heard any differently, these murals remain in the now shuttered Colorado National Bank building (most recently known as US Bank) at 17th and Champa. These treasures must be saved and it is hoped that they will again grace the walls of this building in one of its future uses. Some of Allen True's other paintings and murals appear in Civic Center Park and at the Brown Palace Hotel. He graduated from Manual High School in 1899.