The Pageant of Arizona Progress is a series of murals by Jay Datus (1914-1974) portraying the major phases of Arizona's history. The murals were painted in 1937-38 while the 1938 Arizona Capitol addition was being built. Jay Datus was 23 years old when he received a Works Progress Administration (WPA) commission to paint four large murals for the Capitol addition. The artist spent two years researching his topic and completing the murals which depict natives, explorers, missionaries, pioneers, miners, and contemporary figures. They can be seen on the third floor of the State Library of Arizona. There are four main panels plus two side panels each on the north and south walls.
Apache Smoke Signals
There are four side panels titled "Apache Smoke Signal" and each shows an Apache in the foreground responding to a smoke signal in the background. The middle ground shows figures representing the cause of the signal. The signals are sent from mountains around the state that were actually used for that purpose. The messages in the smoke signals and the dress of the Apaches were researched by Jay Datus and Mulford Winsor, the State Librarian from 1932 to 1956.
The mural on the west wall gives a composite view of life centuries before Europeans began exploring the North American continent. It pictures a people having an advanced culture with engineering and artistic skills.
The panel on the north wall, the missionary era, depicts the second important era in Arizona's history, the coming of the Spaniards. The Conquistadores exploited the land and the natives. The padres imparted their faith and learning. The Jesuit and Franciscan fathers who came to the territory laid the groundwork for the present day civilization. The only two figures which represent historical figures are standing at the right of the mural. At the far right is Estevan the Moor, the first African to enter Arizona. The Franciscan father to his immediate left is Fray Marcos de Niza, the first white man to enter Arizona.
The coming of men with their wives and children made the greatest change in the character of this period. With families finding their way into the territory real homes could be built and there was an incentive to establish law and order and more determined development. The mural on the south wall portrays the pioneer types who began to settle the territory.
The panel on the east wall represents the modern era. The men and women depict the important phases in the development of Arizona and the march into the future.
Please also see four letters of correspondence between the artist and Mr. Mulford Winsor, who was Director of the Library and Archives at the time.
About the Artist
Jay Datus was born in Jackson, Michigan in 1914. He studied at the Worcester (Mass.) Museum of Fine Arts and at the Yale School of Fine Arts. He also studied portraiture with Wyman Adams in New York and London. His career was interrupted by World War II when he served in the U.S. Army. In 1955-56, he painted "Foundations of Confidence" for the home office of the First National Bank in Phoenix which later became the main office of Arizona Public Service (APS). Jay Datus was the founder and director of the Kachina School of Art in Phoenix and he wrote an art column for the Arizona Republic. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London. Jay Datus died in Phoenix, AZ, October 27, 1974.
For additional information about the First National Bank/APS murals, see: Vandeveire, Mary. APS donates murals depicting history of PhoenixThe Business Journal (Phoenix), June 30, 1997.
Jackson, Guy L. "Arizona Pageant of Progress." Arizona Highways Magazine, vol. XX, no. 9 (September 1944).
"Muralist Jay Datus dies; founder of Kachina school." Arizona Republic, October 29, 1974, p. C-3.
Reporter, vol. 14, No. 18 (September 1961).