Got a call from a History Detective last October. Not PBS' History Detective but a gentleman who opened with “Hi, is this Scenic Arts Studios? I am looking for Louis Galanis is he there"
When I explained that Louie had passed away a number of years but Scenic Arts Studios is still a family owned business with his son Christos Galanis now in charge.
The excited gentleman on the other end informed me that he was working for the Foxboro Community Center and in the process of renovating the building had discovered a mural with Louis Galanis' signature on it. Did we know anything about it or could we help? He had been investigating, calling artists, scenic backdrop painters, scenic studios, when Scenic Arts Studios along with Louie's name popped up in a Google search ( I mean was there life before Google?). Some at the community center were in favor of "throwing the mural out as it was badly damaged and of no value" when he took it upon himself to see what he could find.
Christos asked him to carefully turn over the backdrop and see if there was a Scenic Arts Studios stencil on the backside as this would be the definitive test as to its authenticity. Sure enough the stencil was there. Tom the detective was thrilled he had broken the case succeeding as an amateur History Detective! The backdrop or "THE MURAL" as it came to be called was painted in 1935 as verified by the date on the back.
In that time period community centers were the hub of small town social life. Talent shows, dances, weekly card games, weddings, showers, and funerals were all held here in this Foxboro farming community. Neighborhood volunteers maintained the building and keeping the woodstove going. But over the years the center had fallen on hard times and been seriously neglected. It was this dedicated group of fine folks that were determined to make her feel loved again and in the process "The Mural" was discovered in the attic.
It is called an advertising backdrop, common in the 30's and 40's. Around the edge of the center painting are listed those companies that were patrons of the community center. Notice the tel #! Very few of these slices of rural life have survived the rigors of a bygone era and hardly any have the provenance that this one has. A true gem had been uncovered.
But like a much loved and worn ladies' garment was this beyond repair and best disposed of and why did it end up in Foxboro? Scenic Arts had always been in Boston. There was more History Detecting to be done!
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