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 ago but his son now owns the company he became very excited. He 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?
He had been investigating and calling artists, scenic backdrop painters, scenic studios, and Scenic Arts Studios along with Louie's name popped up in a Google search. He said that there were those who were in favor of "throwing the mural out as it was badly damaged" and he decided that he would do a little detecting work to see what he could find. We asked him to carefully turn over the backdrop and see if there was a Scenic Arts Studios stencil on the backside and 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. He had succeeded as a History Detective! The backdrop or "the mural" as it came to be called was painted in 1935 as dated 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 farming community. The building back then was heated by a wood stove and volunteers maintained the building. But over the years the dear lady had fallen on hard times and had 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 uncovered. 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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