Sometimes life’s treasures are hiding in plain sight. Such is the case with a Depression Era mural that graces the lobby wall of a Seaman Avenue apartment building in the Inwood section of northern Manhattan.
The mural in the lobby of 165 Seaman Avenue, signed by renowned artists Elsie Driggs and Lee Gatch, was a private commission completed in the late 1930s.
The painting, which celebrates the presence of Native Americans in the region, is the centerpiece of a stunning art deco lobby designed by architect Charles Kreymborg.
Kreymborg, born in the Bronx in 1876, designed at least eight buildings within blocks of 165 Seaman Avenue. Today, the six-story Art Deco structure is a rental building.
The muralist, Elsie Driggs, was known for her Precisionist paintings and Depression era murals commissioned by the WPA.
Driggs was the only female member of the Precisionist movement. Precisionists produced abstract images of the machine age.
Driggs based her lobby mural on a 1936 watercolor-on-paper study, titled A Celebration of Corn.
Her most famous work, Pittsburgh, painted in 1926, is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Collection of American Art.
Driggs’ husband, Lee Gatch, also signed the mural. Other Gatch paintings are in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others.
According to one resident, the mural was “restored by artist and U.S. Open tennis star coach Kaye Jones as part of a rent-strike settlement almost 20 years ago.”