Compare and Contrast: Other Corporately Sponsored Public Art

Lincoln Perry, "Urban Odyssey," St. Louis Metropolitan Square, 1988
Lincoln Perry, "Urban Odyssey," St. Louis Metropolitan Square, 1988

True history needs its points of comparison and the proper context. So in this week away from southern California, I have turned to that aspect of the Home Savings project.

This past weekend I spoke twice in downtown St. Louis, and took the opportunity to visit the local sights again: Busch Stadium, for the Padres-Cardinals opener; the Arch; the Old Courthouse–and the local corporately sponsored public history mosaics.

The cover I originally desired for my first book was a detail from Fredrick Brown’s wonderful mural at the UMB Bank across from the Old Courthouse, focusing on the nineteenth-century figures appropriate to that project. Brown’s work stretches from the era of the Cahokia Mounds to Auguste Chouteau, Thomas Hart Benton, Dred Scott, Abraham Lincoln, Adolphus Busch, and on, to the Cardinals and the Arch; a great sweep of St. Louis history all in one place.

A reception for the Business History Conference brought me back into the Metropolitan Square building, and a helpful suggestion from one of my book talks let me grab the building’s explanatory brochure, and learn how the artist Lincoln Perry has cleverly blended St. Louis sites with the story of Homer’s Odyssey. The then-and-now murals at the front of the building by Terry Schoonhoven (who has done extensive work in Los Angeles, including at the former Home Savings at 7th and Figueroa) showing the courthouse dome before and after oxidation and other details, show the efforts of the building to speak to the history of its local community–much like the Home Savings and Loan art and artwork.

I have found there is a whole company dedicated to cataloging these art collections: the International Directory of Corporate Art Collections and its associated websites, with more than 1,300 corporate art collections listed! So coming up with an exhaustive list here would be impossible, but I am especially curious of other examples.

So this week I have a challenge, dear readers: What examples of corporately sponsored public art comes to mind? (That knocks out collections mostly kept as investments and not constantly on display.) Sculptures are easy, so we will mostly discount them too — I want to find mosaics, stained glass, and murals, and I especially want to know if they depict the local community or history.

Which other corporately sponsored artwork comes to mind when you think about the Home Savings art and architecture?

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