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For their last exhibition of the college year, the Germanic Museum has chosen a group of documentary watercolor sketches of an Arizona mining town and of the San Francisco waterfront by Lewis W. Rubenstein. Rubenstein is no stranger to the Germanic for two other exhibitions of his works have been on view there and the large murals in the foyer of the Museum were executed by him.
The sketches on display in the current exhibit are the result of a trip through the far West last year, and they form a sort of travelogue of the artist's experiences. The Arizona mining town where Rubenstein found the varied materials for his work is called Jerome and is located in the northeastern section of the state. A small place of only 6000 inhabitants, this Black Hills village thrives on the mining of copper ore, in which task almost the whole male population is engaged.
Rubenstein in his vigorous sketches has caught every activity of the miners and has portrayed it faithfully and realistically. It is to his great credit that, unlike most modern artists who are concerned with industrial scenes such as here, Rubenstein avoids any speculation on the hard lot of the workers and refuses to do any false propagandizing to improve their lot. He treats his subjects straightforwardly and takes the good and the bad alike as they come along.
The artist is at his best when he is depicting the stern, hard, grim type of miner who lives in Jerome. With just a few quick lines he brings out all the toil and suffering endured by these men, men who, however, still enjoy life. Another point in which the artist excels is the remarkable effects he achieves by the use of just a few colors. An excellent example of this may be seen in "Arizona Hills."
The drawings of the San Francisco waterfront fall slightly below the high scale set by the other works, for Rubenstein does not quite seem to catch the atmosphere of the place as he does of Jerome. But once again, although many drawings were made on the scenes of bitter CIO battles, Rubenstein is to be congratulated for avoiding any trace of a political strain for one side or the other.
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