Outskirts of Galena, 1938<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Schwartz-Outskirts-of-Galena-lg.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Outskirts of Galena, 1938<div class="ExternalClass7AD019A56B7A4DBD8C73223333949E65"><p>​A lowering gray sky contrasts with colorful buildings in William S. Schwartz's <em>Outskirts of Galena</em>. The scene is composed according to landscape convention, with tall vertical elements framing the view on either side and a pathway leading into the distance. The hilly, verdant setting, in which the scattered structures are cozily ensconced, also conforms to a traditional ideal of landscape beauty that intimates the peaceful coexistence of man and nature, a theme reinforced by the presence of two small figures on the road. While the fanciful tints of the buildings inject a playful note, the stark electrical poles on the right emphatically situate the scene in modern rural America. Galena is located in the hilly Mississippi River Valley in far-northwestern Illinois. Today a popular tourist destination, it was for decades a sleepy memorial to its boomtown heyday in the mid-nineteenth century.</p><p><em>Outskirts of Galena </em>is one of Schwartz's many works made for the Illinois Art Project, one of the federal relief programs known collectively as the WPA. The art it sponsored tended to favor "typical" people and places, with an emphasis on life in the American heartland. The prominent electrical poles in this painting pay homage to another important initiative of the New Deal economic program: rural electrification. </p><p>Schwartz was a multitalented painter and printmaker who studied art in his native Russia before emigrating to the U.S. in his teens. He arrived in Chicago in 1916 to train at the Art Institute. Adept at portraiture, figural work, and abstract composition as well as landscape, the prolific Schwartz became one of the city's most critically successful modernist artists. Village memories from his Russian boyhood inspired Schwartz's early images; in the 1930s, in works such as <em>Outskirts of Galena</em>, he brought a comparable spirit of romantic fantasy to his interpretation of the midwestern rural scene.</p></div>GP0|#9c1258fd-a9ff-4944-8a44-ed82cf8cd833;L0|#09c1258fd-a9ff-4944-8a44-ed82cf8cd833|William S. Schwartz;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#9d68cbd3-25f3-49f0-8924-6cbe6cdb2f21;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Art;#TemporaryPainting;#Painting Oil;#Painting Oil on Canvas;#Chicago, IllinoisOil on canvas, 293⁄8 × 35¾ inches Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum, Courtesy of the Fine Arts Program, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration. Commissioned through the New Deal art projects