Credit Line: Probable gift of the artist. Transferred from the Department of Architecture, College of Design. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
From "Subject to Change" exhibit:
Lawton M. Patten (American, 1905-1992)
Depot Street in Vermont, 1941
Oil on canvas
Transferred from the Architecture Department, College of Design. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Are you familiar with Sinclair Lewis' Main Street? This townscape can be imaged as Gopher Prairie, Minnesota--a town modeled on Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the author's birthplace. Viewers explore the neighborhood from the rear entrances to the homes, and contemplate the daily coming and going of the town's inhabitants. These are ordinary homes in an ordinary town, and as winter casts its blue-grey pall, these homes express that better times are in the past.
A native of Vermont, Patten devoted most of his professional career to Iowa State as a professor in architectural history. His office was located in Engineering Annex, a campus building demolished in the last decade. Patten's office window looked out onto the Marston water tower, built in 1897 by Anson Marston, the first dean of the College of Engineering. The 168-foot-tall tower supplied water to the campus in the early 20th century and was the first steel, water tower west of the Mississippi. Note that this painting includes the quintessential church steeple found in Vermont's villages, as well as a midwestern water tower - (not usually constructed of this design in the East at the time of the painting)-perhaps Patten was combining the two places that represented 'home' to him.