Industry Feel: The City in Art and History

Men standing in a store front with a sign hanging above their heads that says Road of Ambition
Charles A. Fuhs, Untitled, c. 1920, Gelatin silver print

What does Industry Feel mean? You know it when you see it.

This exhibition expresses the entrepreneurial spirit that flowed in early 1900 Wichita Falls and throughout the century, sparked by the railroad phenomenon. Art and photography together bear strong witness to a time of contentious expansion, hard work, modern architecture, and booming industries.

Historian Kenneth E. Hendrickson, Jr., in Images of America, Wichita Falls writes, “…the traditional homeland of nomadic Native American tribes, notably the Kiowa and Comanche,… On September 27, 1882, the Texas Townsite Company held a town lot sale and Wichita Falls was born. This event would not have taken place except for the fact the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad had agreed to extend its line right through the heart of the little village.”

Referring to a play titled, “The Road to Ambition,” a photograph by Charles Fuhs strikes a thematic note for the drive of the time, when oil booms, new automobiles, and entrepreneurism ushered in the Roaring Twenties.

Office building images by Charles Fuhs and Ben Shahn suggest a striving upward. John Meigs takes it further upward with Go Apollo 11. Likewise, just as Fuhs captured images of workers and their machines, artworks by Karl Umlauf, Roy Lichtenstein, and Howard Cook make the factory their subject.

Taken as a whole, these images convey a mood of journeying into the future through human and technological industriousness. The images naturally conjure thoughts about where ambition has taken us since and where we will go next.