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Massive painting moves to UW campus

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MADISON (WKOW) -- An 18-foot long, 500-pound painting moved today to a new home on the UW campus.

The monumental James Watrous mural was moved from the Webcrafters building on Fordem Avenue to the Chazen Museum of Art.

“Printing is the Inseparable Companion of Achievement” will enter the Elvehjem building via a removable window at the north entrance.

The piece depicts the printer’s craft and how it relates to the dissemination of knowledge throughout the world. It was designed and painted in 1951 by Watrous specifically for Webcrafters, formerly known as the Democrat Printing Co.

The Webcrafters building, located at 2211 Fordem Ave., has been sold and extensive renovations of the building provided the opportunity to remove the mural to a safer location.

The mural is being donated by the Frautschi Family, who have also pledged a monetary gift that will contribute to the upcoming conservation of the work.

Watrous earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from UW–Madison. From 1933 to 1936, he painted the Paul Bunyan murals in the Memorial Union.

Watrous joined the faculty in 1935 and remained active in university arts issues and activities after his retirement in 1976.

He was a campus arts advocate who helped raise funds to build what is now the Chazen Museum of Art, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In 1999, he died at the age of 90.

His mosaics — artwork created by arranging pieces of material such as stone, tile or glass — can be found in Memorial Library, Ingraham Hall and Vilas Hall. Last summer, his 1963 piece “Man—Creator of Order and Disorder” in the William H. Sewell Social Sciences Building underwent a thorough cleaning by an art conservator.

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