In 1934, the young artist Earl LaPan, a Massachusettes native came to Miami Beach in search of work. Between 1934 and 1939, he painted murals and created sculptures for more than 300 Miami Beach hotels, many in the Art Deco district. Many new hotels at the time were being built and business was beginning to boom. LaPan contacted architects and owners of the hotels and showed them his art and was hired by them to paint murals in their lobbies. He lived in the hotels while he painted, moving his studio from place to place as he changed jobs, working all day and sometimes until early hours of the morning. LaPan said he remembered Miami Beach as a thriving, lively city where tourists and natives danced and partied all day and night.
In 1988, Barbara Baer Capitman said of LaPan, “Until we rediscovered him, people tended to dismiss these murals as trashy, unpainterly. Suddenly people began to appreciate him. His name has become a password, a byword for Art Deco murals.”
Posted are MDPL’s archival photographs of Earl LaPan’s original 1940’s mural in the lobby of the Victor Hotel at 1144 Ocean Drive, the mural during the renovation of the 1990’s and post renovation in 2006. During the early 2000’s construction, art conservator James Swope chemically embalmed LaPan’s mural and then restored it to its original luster.