While clearing junk out of a San Antonio municipal building, a city worker recently discovered large tubes that contained artwork depicting different eras of Texas history.
One of the paintings shows the defeat of a Mexican general in 1836. Another illustrates a scene of Spanish priests interacting with Native Americans. Thinking he stumbled upon something significant, the worker notified the Institute of Texan Cultures.
Sarah Gould, a researcher with the organization, said the worker was told to dispose of the murals. Instead, he took a few photos on his cellphone of the artwork to show the institute.
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The group's staff began researching and found that the late Chicago-based artist Eugene Montgomery, who died in 2001, was behind the artwork. The paintings, finished in 1954, are pieces of one 175-foot-long mural that once spanned the inside of the former Sears Roebuck and Co. store. The murals were removed after the store was remodeled in 1984.
"I wouldn't call them super high art," Gould said, "but they're great popular art."
The Institute of Texan Cultures is now trying to determine the murals' proper owner, the San Antonio Express-News reported. If the organization keeps them, they'll have to be preserved. One of the pieces has suffered heavy water damage.
"I can't really say what's going to happen to them," Gould said. "One way or another, we hope they'll end up in a good space."