Art at the Exposition



At the southern extremity of the exposition grounds, standing head and shoulders above its neighbors, is the Arch of States. It forms the main entrance from Twentieth street, and in its severe simplicity is a very imposing gateway. It is built after the fashion of the old Roman triumphal arches. Near the top is a frieze composed of the coat of arms, in color, of the twenty-four transmississippi states, the whole to be surmounted by sculptured figures bearing the United States shield.

Entering by this arch on the afternoon of children's day, one received the impression of looking into a kaleidoscope. On the bridge, facing the entrance, children in all colors were flitting about like so many humming birds, perching for a moment on the railing of the bridge to watch the gondolier plying so gracefully his long oar, then off under the Administration arch for the Streets of All Nations.

The Administration arch, placed thus opposite the Arch of States, balances it to the satisfaction of the eye, in point of size and position, and by reason of its contrast. At the same time that our aesthetic sense is satisfied our minds grasp the thought that these buildings are the symbols of the factors which have made the exposition possible—local executive force, with the co-operation of the transmississippi states.

Over on the east part of the grounds the state buildings have formed quite a village—rather a heterogeneous mass—but pleasing as a whole, when one does not stop to analyze and when one can avoid seeing that yellow wigwam from Pottawattamie county, Iowa. From its excellent location it intrudes itself upon you so that you cannot escape its multitudinous eyes—they seem to hypnotize one to look at their bald ugliness. Near the wigwam is the Iowa State building in process of construction, looking now like a huge crab, but promising some delightful piazzas later on—a thing we sadly miss in our State building.

The Nebraska building is beautifully situated facing the valley and the ever-changing bluffs, tempting an architect to build great porches upheld by big pillars where Nebraskans might sit to rest their tired eyes on the green trees and soft colors of the distance after the fatigue of the glare of sunlight on the white buildings. But in-stead there is an enclosed piazza where no one would care to rest and the four corners of the rectangular building are surmounted by small domes on each of which is painted a travesty of the blue hills and sky.

And how inartistic is the arrangement of the rooms inside! One immense central room reaching up eighty-five feet to the height of the large central dome gives the impression of being an overland railway station.

Just north of the Nebraska is the Illinois state building, very inviting in its colonial simplicity and hospitable piazzas. A gable extending out over the front entrance is upheld by massive pillars in the Greek style, adding at the same time to the architectural effect and to the comfort of the visitor.

In a small gallery adjoining it on the south hang several pictures of the Chicago exposition painted by Mr. Key. These pictures are a careful reproduction of the exposition—painted with an architect's accuracy, rather than with an abandon to color or impressionistic effects. It will be a pleasure to the people who visited the Chicago exposition to refresh their memories in looking at these pictures. And they who were not at Chicago in 1893 will find them exceedingly interesting. There are many who will wish to see them in order to compare; for there is this curious thing about us that we do not enjoy anything in itself, but only as compared to something else. If we cannot prove to our own satisfaction that this exposition is as good as the World's fair, or at least is a miniature representation of it, we will have none of it. But they are in no way similar beyond the fact that the main buildings in each case have been grouped around a large basin of water, that the buildings are covered with white staff and that they contain exhibits. The one is in no way a copy or an imitation of the other.

South of the state buildings is the flaunting Horticultural building, with its domes, its minarets, its columns and its renaissance frieze. It is built in a mixed style of architecture and appeals to the people—just as a medley does in music—one is not good art, the other is not good music.