The lobby of the former HSBC bank building
Untapped Cities contributor AFineLyne has shared some exciting news with us: Google NYC and Jamestown announced that they will team up to help preserve Julien Binford’s historic mural, “A Memory of 14th Street and 6th Avenue,” which was formerly housed in the lobby of a now shuttered bank building on West 14th Street. According to Gothamtogo and Chelsea Now, efforts by Save Chelsea, a preservation group, and Speaker Corey Johnson “bore fruit”: Jamestown said it recently bought the mural from the developer, Gemini Rosemont, for $50,000. Now, the next step is to find a home for the mural, with the hope of keeping it in the neighborhood. Under consideration is the Senior Center at Hudson Guild, as well as two other locations. Stay tuned for updates, and read the history of the Julien Binford mural below.
Julien Binford (1909-1997) was an American Painter, known for his paintings and murals of rural settings in Virginia, where he lived. In May of 1941, LIFE Magazine featured a four-page article on an art show at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts entitled The Eighth Exhibition of the Work of Virginia Artists in which Binford was one of 85 participating artists, whose average age was under 30.
Binford’s painting entitled “The Crap Shoot” was one of the paintings in The Eighth Exhibition that ran from April 12 to May 25, 1941. The Crap Shooter originated when Artist Julien Binford was shooting rabbits near his home in Fine Creek Mills, Virginia. Pointing toward thick bushes, his dog suddenly “flushed a corey of crapshooters who were evading the law. Their riches were spread on a blue linoleum mat.” Binford joined the crap game – lost, then decided to commemorate the disaster with this painting. His first one-man show was to be at a New York Midtown Gallery that following October.
Locating all of the murals painted by Binford has not been easy. In addition to his commissioned mural in the lobby of the Virginia State Library, and mural for Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond, Virginia, it appears he painted at least two murals for two separate Greenwich Savings Bank buildings in New York City — seven panels in the banking room of the bank located at 3 West 57th Street, and 14th Street at Sixth Avenue. The murals at the 14th street location appear to still be intact. The building, a recently shuttered HSBC bank branch, was built in 1952, designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer. The website nysonglines states that the Binford murals at that location were painted in 1954, and can be seen from the street. What will become of the Binford murals, when new tenants occupy the space, is unknown, however we did learn from Chelsea Now this week that Council Member Corey Johnson’s office, and a developer are looking to preserve a piece of the mural.
On December 13, we learned that Corey Johnson’s office, the community group Save Chelsea and Julien Binford’s family set out to preserve the 1954 mural. The result is that Gemini Rosemont, the building site’s developer, has successfully removed the mural from the walls and safely placed it in storage. Read more on Corey Johnson’s Facebook page.
Next, check out our past coverage on the Julien Binford Mural and see 14 Art Installations & Exhibits Not to Miss in NYC in March 2018.