Signature and date ... This painting was trimmed unevenly
when we acquired it, and is displayed floated onto a
maroon mat to preserve the signature and date.
Spring Landscape 1944
Watercolor, approximately 15 x 19 1/2,
(overall 22 1/2 x 26 1/2)
Virginia Chism Darcé was a watercolorist and active in the Portland, Spokane, and to a lesser degree, Los Angeles.
She designed and created the stained glass mosaid murals in the Blue Ox Bar at the historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. The hotel was built by the WPA in 1936 and 1937 and Virginia Darcé was a WPA artist.
Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Oregon
Virginia's famed Paul Bunyan Mural was featured in the concluding episode of the PBS series, Lodges of the Pacific Northwest, which visits historic lodges at Mount Rainier, Mount Hood, Oregon Caves, and Crater Lake. Further down this page are photos of her Timberline Lodge artwork and a shot of Virginia and her assistants working on the mural.Read More
High on the snow cap of Oregon's Mount Hood sits the majestic Timberline Lodge. Built in the 1930's, the Timberline was a WPA project employing thousands of Oregon workers during the Great Depression. Oregon artisans and artists were chosen to create paintings, murals and wood carved appointments and furnishings.
This majestic ski resort rivals the beauty of similar WPA projects such as the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite, Grand Canyon Lodge, and Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone.
One of the Timberline Lodge's signature artist works is its Blue Ox Bar, featuring glass mosaic murals by WPA artist, Virginia Darcé.
An excerpt of a video documenting the construction of
WPA's building of the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood,
featuring Virginia Darcé's stained glass Paul Bunyan Mural in the Blue Ox Bar.
The construction of the Lodge began in 1937 and took army styled logistics to coordinate bringing building materials and construction workers up to the 6,000 foot level of Mount Hood. In the short 4 months of summer, the building was framed and roofed. The following year, interior work was done.
Much of the artwork for the hotel was designed and created on the flatlands below and brought up to the hotel for installation.
Murals, paintings and carvings were done by some of Oregon's most accomplished artists including Darrel Austin, C.S. Price, Howard Sewall, Charles Heaney, Erich Lamade, Florence Thomas, Virginia Darcé, and Douglas Lynch.
Virginia Darcé was an illustrator, designer and writer. She was art critic for the Oregon Spectator and the Spokane Review during World War II. She also worked as a stained glass artist for the W.P. Fuller Glass Company. She was chosen by the WPA to produce stained glass for the Blue Ox Bar located inside the Timberline Lodge.
At the time, Virginia probably gave no thought that over 80 years in the future, people would enter the Blue Ox Bar and marvel at her work. Like the many other WPA artists during the height of the Great Depression, she was pleased to have the work.
Virginia had some experience working with glass. Virginia worked for the Fuller Glass Company of Portland. She had experience painting murals. Previously she had done a 70 foot long mural for the Oregon City Library.
When it came to creating a stained glass design for the Blue Ox Bar, she decided to do a mosaic in a technique called "opus sectile," used often in medieval and ancient mosaics where materials were cut into large irregular pieces and made into a picture. This technique is easily distinguished from the more familiar tessellated designs made of uniformly small pieces.
The very bright and bold colors chosen by Virginia's for her mural really enlivened the small cave-like space given for the Blue Ox Bar, noted by the rich cobalt blue of Babe the Blue Ox and the blazingly orange squares in Paul Bunyan's large flannel checker boarded shirt.
The Blue Ox bar is small, tucked away in a corner of the first floor, a cozy place to have a pizza and a pint. The Paul Bunion murals really adds fun to the place. Paul Bunyan's orange and black flannel shirt and Babe's white eyes are striking against his cobalt blue head and body. The heavy wooden furnishings are original, crafted by WPA workers some 85 years ago.
Like an entrance into a secret chamber of a medieval European castle,
the entrance into the Blue Ox Bar gives visitors a feeling
they are entering an almost magical place. Paul Bunyan
although a figure as large as his legend, his friendly face
welcomes visitors with a warm and inviting smile.
Painting of the month, Spring Landscape, 1944, Virginia Chism Darcê,
and yes, its available for sale, just click on the photo. Somewhere in this painting's history, it was cut down in an irregular fashion.
We mounted it as it was onto a solid maroon silk mat and framed with an antique darkly stained oak frame.
Approximate watercolor measurements, 15 x 19 1/2, overall 22 1/2 x 26 1/2
As a painter, Virginia Darcé worked in watercolors, tempora as well as stained glass. Her paintings are rare in auction. Spring Landscape is a well executed masterful use of wet into wet technique with a pleasing stylistic interpretation of of a rural hill, farm buildings, fences and trees. Its sketchy quality adds to this painting's dreaminess.
Below are other works by Virginia Darcé, her mural at the Oregon City Public Library and two tempora paintings in the collection of the Portland Art Museum. The Oregon City Public Library mural no longer exists, and as far as I know, it was not well documented or photographed properly for an historic record. What a loss for Oregon City.
For gallery owners like myself, the sad truth exemplified by Virginia Darcé's Oregon City mural is that not all art work survives and thrives. As paintings and other piece of art move through time, through different owners and different circumstances, a lot of art gets damaged, lost, neglected, misplaced and forgotten.
Virginia Chism Darcé's WPA mural at the Oregon City Library
This photo is the only one known to exist according the the Oregon City Library's reference librarian. It was taken from a small black and white snap shot showing the larger study room of the library. From this photo, I zoomed in on the mural and cropped and enhanced the mural with Photoshop.
The mural itself is a bit of Oregon history now lost. But in its conception and execution, Virginia Darcé's mural was a retelling of Orgeon's deeper history. It begins with native Americans and transitions to Oregon's wagon-trailblazing
pioneers and then on to Oregon's first days of statehood. In this imperfect photograph of the mural, I couldn't discern any visual reference to the Lewis and Clark expedition, but I wouldn't be surprised if it too was represented. Given Virginia's use of color in the Blue Ox Bar and the WPA paintings below, the colors of this mural most certainly would have been eye catching and pleasing.
Virginia Darcé, The Market, 1938, tempera on paper
Portland Art Museum, Courtesy of the Fine Arts Collection,
U.S. General Services Administration / New Deal Art Project
Virginia Darcé, The Waterfront, 1938, tempera on board
Portland Art Museum,
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Collection
U.S. General Services Administration / New Deal Art Project
The two paintings above are in the collection of the Portland Art Museum. Both are done tempera, one on paper, the other on board. The Market shows a busy scene of well dressed people milling about with abundant displays of produce and a pickle barrel. The Waterfront appears to have been done on a Sunday, not much going on, only two individuals and a small dog. One can't help but wonder if Virginia Darcé had been influenced by Edward Hopper and his paintings of empty New York streets. The only hint of a ship is a smoke stack behind some wharf styled structure and some cable rigging.
We are pleased to offer Spring Landscape 1944 by Virginia Darcé. It is a most pleasing scene of a rural site she would have seen in rural Oregon, done in a watercolor style consistent with scene painters of her day.
We highly recommend a visit to the Timberline Lodge. The whole hotel building is in itself a piece of art. Stepping inside is a like taking a step into history. The hotel's paintings, furnishings, carvings and of course, the Paul Bunyan murals of the Blue Ox Bar all remind us of what is possible by people working together through hard times.
In 1937, 27 year-old Virginia Darce was given an opportunity to create a Paul Bunyun mosaic mural for a bar in the WPA's Timberline Lodge, located on the snowy slopes of Oregon's Mount Hood.
At the time, Virginia probably gave no thought that 80 years hence, people would enter the Blue Ox Bar and marvel at her work. Like other WPA artists during the height of the Great Depression, she was pleased to have the work.
Working inside the Blue Ox Bar,
Virginia fits glass pieces onto the mural.
Virginia Darce Signature
Paul Bunyan Mural
Virginia had some experience working with glass. Virginia worked for the Fuller Glass Company of Portland. Previously she had done a 70 foot long mural for the Oregon City Library. When it came to creating a stained glass design for the Blue Ox Bar, she decided to do a mosaic in a technique called "opus sectile," used often in medieval and ancient mosaics where materials were cut into large irregular pieces and made into a picture. This technique is easily distinguished from the more familiar tessellated designs made of uniformly small pieces.
The famous Paul Bunyan Mural by Virginia Darce located in the Blue Ox Bar
at the Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. It was done in 1938 as part of the WPA.
Paul Bunyan Portrait in Glass
Side wall, Blue Ox Bar, Timberline Lodge
Cave like entrance
to the Timberline Lodge's Blue Ox Bar
Paul Bunyan and his Baby Blue Ox
Side wall, Blue Ox Bar, Timberline Lodge
The very bright and bold colors chosen by Virginia's for her mural really enlivened the small cave like space given for the Blue Ox Bar, noted by the rich blue of Babe the Blue Ox and the blazingly orange squares in Paul Bunyun's large flannel checker boarded shirt.
Since the Blue Ox Bar opened for business, it isn't too difficult to imagine generations of Oregonians enjoying a pint or two while admiring Virginia's work after a day on Mount Hood's slopes.
After the Mount Hood project, Virginia lived in Portland where she was manager for the Skidmore Fountain Artist Association. After the war, she was active in the Los Angeles area.
WPA era painting, Waterfront, 1938 by Virginia Darce Fine Arts Program, Gen. Services Administration
WPA era painting, The Market 1938 by Virginia Darce
Fine Arts Program, Gen. Services Administration
The Timberline Lodge today.
A History of the Art of the Timberline Lodge,
You may fast forward to Virginia Darce's mural, featured at 15:28 into this video.
Spring Landscape 1944, Virginia Darce
currently on view and available for sale
Bodega Bay Heritage Gallery,
California Women Artists Exhibition