While a student of muralist Thomas Hart Benton in the middle of the Great Depression, Eric Bransby painted his first mural as part of the WPA program in Kansas City. He then served his country in World War II and when he returned from duty, he enrolled in the Fine Arts Center School on the G.I. Bill under the tutelage of Boardman Robinson, initially, and later Jean Charlot.
During the New Deal Era, the Fine Arts Center became a hotbed for muralists, including artists like George Biddle, Edgar Britton, Randall Davey, Ethel Magafan, Archie Musick, Robinson, Charlot, and Bransby.
Eric Bransby Mural
April 20, 2012
5:30 p.m. in the Smith Gallery
So it was only fitting that the Fine Arts Center commissioned Bransby, now 94, to create a mural that tells the story of the FAC with nods to the Broadmoor Art Academy, music, dance, theatre, arts education and recognizable figures like Boardman Robinson and Martha Graham, in commemoration of the FAC’s 75th Anniversary.
Luciano Cheles, Professor of Italian Studies, University of Poitiers
Piero della Francesca’s Impact on New Deal Muralists
April 20, 2012
6 p.m. in the SaGaJi Theatre
“The mural is incredible and will be a valued reminder of our first 75 years for decades to come,” said Sam Gappmayer, FAC CEO and President.
In 1986, for the FAC’s 50th Anniversary, Bransby was tapped to completely repaint Boardman Robinson’s original 1936 frescoes on the FAC facade; over the years the Robinson frescos had faded.
“Bransby masterfully enhanced Robinson’s original forms with his own details on the original facade,” said Blake Milteer, FAC Museum Director. “With the 75th Anniversary mural, he will bring the mural painting tradition from the original building into the FAC’s stunning new glass corridor.”
In August of 2011, Mary Ann Bransby, Eric’s wife of nearly 70 years passed away. The couple, long thought to be the last surviving students of Boardman Robinson, shared the exhibition galleries at the Fine Arts Center for a major retrospective in 2001. Eric included his wife, Mary Ann, in the 75th mural, depicting her as a student of Robinson. This was a change he made after the time of her passing.
“This is a project that has already gone very deep in impacting the lives of a small number of people in profound ways,” said Gappmayer. “I anticipate that when I look back on my career that this will be one of the things of which I will be most proud.”
Originally published in the Dec. 2011 – March 2012 edition of ArtsFocus
(Vol. 8, Issue 1) for the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.