Train restoration rekindles interest in Brundidge artist’s mural

Published 6:13 pm Friday, January 26, 2024

The recent interest in and desire to refurbish the steam engine train on outdoor display at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama has spurred renewed interest in the train and railroad travel.

A major fundraising project provided donors with an opportunity to have their handprints preserved in concrete castings to show their interest in and support of the role the steam engine played in the expansion of a growing and vibrant young America.

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama featured a large mural by Brundidge artist, Larry Godwin, that depicts the excitement and promise the railroad brought across America.

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Barbara Tatom, museum director, said the mural is much enjoyed as, not only a slice of history but a work of art.

“The mural The Crossing’ by Brundidge artist Larry Godwin has intended to provide an environment in which the visitor can step back in time when railroads were bringing about extensive changes to the countryside. The mural is, perhaps, nostalgic for those who witnessed the time and curios for youngsters. In either case, the mural is intended to be an experience.

“The mural spans some 54 linear feet as it winds its way into a corner and across advancing and receding planes. As the viewer moves to the work, he becomes, at least for the moment, a participant in the excitement centered around the steam engine. Such excitement came about at the magical “crossing” from the 19th to the 20th century.

“The artist, attempts to create, not only, a literal railroad crossing event, with the imagery of workers laying the rails, engineers and conductors operating trains, dandy dressers and exuberant passengers anxious for a journey, passengers with bags in hand but also a work of art enhanced by a linear, almost drawn painting style, reminiscent of the early graphic engravers. The overlay of texture dances with the high contrast of black and white and brown lines, punctuated with brilliant dots of vibrant color. At the distance the pointillist colors fuse and blend. At close range, they assume a stained-glass effect. The detail is sketchy and even impressionistic. The improvisation, free in treatment and the edges and forms lost to momentum and movement, rather than the constrained by rigid traditional realism.

“In the final analysis, the mural seems to belong but does not exist just to serve history.  The mural, like the village center becomes an event. This event is integrated by the overlap of three-dimensional objects into two-dimensional imagery Only time will tell how effective the impact will be upon the senses and emotions of those of those who purchase a ticket and make the journey into art.”