Updated, November 25, 2009
Here is the untold story of how New York architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, built his ultra moderne, Art Deco Skyscraper clear out in the early 20th Century Heartland of the Nation.
The story focuses upon the contribution of Goodhue's chief architectural sculptor, Lee Lawrie (1877-1963), who humbly served him for nearly three decades, and on more than a hundred buildings from coast to coast.
Lawrie's work is found in cities nationwide, from West Point (NY) to Los Angeles, from St. Paul to Baton Rouge and Florida, yet his name has somehow fallen off of the pages of history. A German-American immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child in poverty, yet who went on to shape the face and soul of architecture in America between the wars, and beyond.
Most importantly, however, is the discovery that despite how ubiquitous his work is, Lawrie's largest body of sculpture in the world is found at the Nebraska State Capitol.
Lawrie later created his most recognizable work, The Atlas, at Rockefeller Center, less than three years after completing the work on the Capitol, yet though millions of Americans may recognize the Atlas as an icon synonymous with New York City, few know that Lawrie, along with Rene Chambellan, created this magnificent work--and Lawrie created over a dozen more works at Rockefeller Center alone.
Among his achievements, he sculpted at at least four world's fairs, taught at Yale for more than a decade, chaired U.S. Commission on Fine Arts for more than a decade, the won numerous awards for both design and sculpture, and truly advanced the presence of Art Deco sculpture in the U.S.
Yet almost no one is aware of who Lawrie was, and why he deserves an episode on "American Masters" on PBS. But I am working on it.
Additionally, this book recounts the story of many of the lost design elements of the Capitol, and tells the stories that Lawrie and philosopher/historian Dr. Hartley Burr Alexander intended to convey, through the use of these stone images.
Finally, I am responsible for the lion's share of the photography, (my wife and friends helped) and all of the layout and editing.
I feel I have given it my best.
I will personally autograph any book that you're willing to pay to shipping on, to me and back to you.
Thank you for your interest in my work.
Gregory Paul Harm, M.A.
What readers are saying about it.
Nebraska Magazine: Full review here: http://www.leelawrie.com/LeeLawrie.com/Pages/UNL_Alumni_Review.htm
--A Columbia University graduate with a Master's in Architectural History wrote:
"Greg - the book is amazing - I'm reading it now - you've done a spectacular job with the research, writing, and design - it's a true addition to the scholarship of Lawrie and architectural sculpture."
Jeff Kanipe, noted astronomy author wrote,
"Lee Lawrie's Prairie Deco is truly a Herculean effort at celebrating the work of an artist whose life, unfortunately, has fallen into unjustified obscurity.
Lawrie's art is suitably exalted with stunning photographs, cogent descriptions of his works, and a clean, uncluttered layout, the latter being a quality I especially appreciate. Some art books tend to be too wordy and fail to let the art speak for itself. This is thankfully not an issue here. Prairie Deco not only elevates Lawrie to his rightful status as an innovative, bold-stroke artist, but also fills in a huge gap in twentieth century art history."
Read Kent Walgamott's review in the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star online:
Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, moved to Austin, Texas in 1991, two days after graduating college and 20 years after graduating high school. Earned my master's in legal studies and legal administration in 1999 at age 46. Discovered Lawrie after leaving Nebraska and gaining some perspective on where I was from and what I wanted to do. Spent the better part of a decade traveling, researching and writing the book, while working full time in public service. Am lucky in love, happily married and wealthy in friendships. Love music, politics, and finally, in my mid-fifties, have discovered fitness. Getting back to the physique I had up until I finished the blue collar chapter of my life and started the sedentary white collar one. Happy almost all the time.
Lee Lawrie's Prairie Deco: Published August 22, 2011
Softbound: 75th Anniversary Edition, Lee Lawrie's Prairie Deco: Published November 26, 2009