Earlier in the year, I introduced the former Shushan Airport of New Orleans, and its magnificent restoration following a make-over in the 1960s to serve as a concrete and steel nuclear fall-out shelter, and the final insult of Hurricane Katrina and the surge waters from Lake Pontchatrain–where the airport sits on an area of in-fill.
Funded in part by programs from Roosevelt’s New Deal Administration, the one-of-a-kind Art Deco airport (and one of the few Art Deco airports remaining) featured a series of murals by New Orleans artist Xavier Gonzalez.
Removed from premises during 1960s renovation, [Flight Over Rio] found at the Louisiana State Museum, returned on permanent loan. Mural was restored at one point prior to return. (from the poster depicted above)
Flight Over Rio is one of eight murals painted for the project. The oil on linen canvases measure approximately 134 inches wide and 106 inches high, and are adhered directly to the plaster wall with an adhesive–“marouflage.”
The murals, created in 1938, are located on the mezzanine floor to correspond with the ground floor compass, which indicates points of distance from New Orleans to the various airports, which represent historic flights to locations by “aviation pioneers” in the 1920s and 1930s.
Flight Over Rio depicts the flight of Italian Commander Francesco de Pinedo in the Italian seaplane “Santa Maria.” The mural pictures the “double-boat monoplane” flying over the Avenido Rio Banco with the Sugar Loaf Peak in the background (Friends of New Orleans Lakefront Airport).