Artwork of the Week: Labor Day 2021
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), Building the Road Through Thistle, c.1984, oil on canvas, 15 13/16 x 20 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1987.
A native of Pennsylvania, Ella Peacock relocated to Spring City, Utah in 1970 because, as she said, “the first time I saw this area I knew I could paint the rest of my days here.” Ella loved the immediacy of painting outdoors. Here, she captures not just the mountainous environment but the rigor of work.
Peacock painted this work shortly after a devastating landslide that destroyed the small town of Thistle, Utah, in April 1983. Peacock documents part of the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts to clear up the surrounding roads. The figures are turned away, hard at work. Measuring, marking, and shoveling, they are fully concentrated on their labors, seemingly unaware of an artist nearby observing their work. Pops of red and orange animate the work and lead your eye diagonally through the painting.