By Karl Kurtz
Writing about the New Mexico Capitol in "A Roundhouse of Art," Wendy Underhill says that the Capitol is "a rich repository of the state’s artistic culture and a piece of art itself." She's right, of course, that the Roundhouse in Santa Fe has a marvelous collection of art.
But on a visit to the Wyoming Capitol on Friday, I reflected on how one can say this about the art in so many state capitols. I admired the eight remarkable Allen Tupper True murals in the House and Senate chambers in Cheyenne. These paintings led me to think about the beautiful murals by the same artist in the Colorado Capitol (True is almost certainly the only artist whose works are displayed in three different capitols--add the Missouri Capitol to his credits) and the amazing Thomas Hart Benton murals in the statehouse on the bluff overlooking the Missouri River in Jefferson City.
I'm not sure that taxidermy qualifies as art, but if it does, my favorite piece of state capitol art is the proud, majestic American bison with the baleful stare that stands on the first floor of the Cowboy State Capitol. I can't think of any other symbol in a statehouse that so captures the energy and spirit of its state. Whether it's art or symbol (or both), the bison is the first thing that pops into my mind when I think about the Capitol in Cheyenne.
Nominations are open for other great works of art--stuffed or otherwise--in state capitols. Click on the comments below to suggest your own favorites.