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Borger in Hutchinson County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

Boomtown

by Thomas Hart Benton

— 1889 - 1975 —

 
 
Boomtown Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
1. Boomtown Marker
Inscription.  Benton was born in Neosho, Missouri into an influential family of politicians. His father, Maecenas, was a lawyer and 4 times elected U.S. congressman from Missouri. Known as the "little giant of the Ozarks," he named his son after his great-uncle Thomas Hart Benton, one of the first two United States Senators elected from Missouri. At an early age Thomas wanted to develop his skills as an artist and his mother supported him in this endeavor. As a teenager, he worked as a cartoonist for the Joplin American newspaper in Joplin, Missouri.

In 1907 Benton enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago. He moved to Paris in 1909 to continue his art education at the Académie Julian. His mother supported him financially and emotionally to work at his art until he married in 1922. At age 33, Benton married Italian immigrant Rita Piacenza. They met while he was teaching art classes in New York City where she was one of his students. They had two children and were married for almost 53 years until Thomas' death in 1975. Rita died eleven weeks after her husband.

He returned to New York in 1913 and declared himself to be an
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"enemy of modernism" and thus began the naturalistic and representational work today known as Regionalism. Benton served in the U.S. Navy in World War I and was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. Directed to make drawings of shipyard work and life, the demand for realistic documentation helped his later style develop. Benton said that his work for the Navy "was the most important thing, so far, I had ever done for myself as an artist."

A friend of the family owned the Dilley Hotel in Borger where Benton painted "Boomtown" from his hotel room on Main Street in 1928 while on a summer sketching trip. The original resides in the permanent collection of the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.

Benton wrote of Borger, Texas
"Out on the open plain beyond the town a great thick column of black smoke rose as in a volcanic eruption from the earth to the middle of the sky. All the mighty anarchic carelessness of our country was revealed in Borger... It was revealed with a breadth, with an expansive grandeur... One did not get the feeling, in spite of the rough shacks and dirty tents in which the people lived, of that narrow cruelty and bitter misery that hovers around eastern industrial centers. There was a belief, written in men's faces, that all would find a share in the gifts of this mushroom town.... Borger
The Boomtown Marker and painting on the wall image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
2. The Boomtown Marker and painting on the wall
on the boom was a big party where capital joined hands with everybody in a great democratic dance."


Captions
Lower Right: This depiction of Thomas Hart Benton's "Boomtown" was painted pro bono, by local artist Michelle Dubiskas in February 2020. The paint and the steel base it is painted on were purchased by Friends of the Hutchinson County Historical Museum. The steel base was fabricated by the Hutchinson County Road and Bridge crew. Woody's Glass donated indoor studio space for the painting's execution. Thanks to all!
 
Erected 2020 by Hutchinson County Historical Museum.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, MusicIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical year for this entry is 1907.
 
Location. 35° 40.358′ N, 101° 23.382′ W. Marker is in Borger, Texas, in Hutchinson County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of North Main Street and East 7th Street. The marker is located in the courtyard north of the Hutchinson County Museum. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 618 North Main Street, Borger TX 79007, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Huber Paraffin Scraper (here, next to this marker); Bessemer Gas Engine (a few steps from this marker); Allis-Chalmers/Cooper Winch Tractor
Closeup of the Boomtown artwork image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, June 7, 2022
3. Closeup of the Boomtown artwork
(a few steps from this marker); LeRoi Motor-Generator Set (a few steps from this marker); Auxiliary Equipment from the Early Borger Oil Field (a few steps from this marker); Nitro Storage Safe & Do-It-Yourself Drilling Rig (a few steps from this marker); 1950 GMC Winch Truck (a few steps from this marker); The Panhandle Oil Boom & the Borger Field (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Borger.
 
Also see . . .  Thomas Hart Benton (painter).
Thomas Hart Benton (April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975) was an American painter, muralist, and printmaker. Along with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, he was at the forefront of the Regionalist art movement. The fluid, sculpted figures in his paintings showed everyday people in scenes of life in the United States. Source: Wikipedia
(Submitted on June 23, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 23, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 22, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 144 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on June 23, 2022, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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Jun. 16, 2024