David W. Gates Jr., author of the Wisconsin Post Office Murals, has published a book focused on the murals created by New Deal artists for post offices across Wisconsin. Titled, Wisconsin Post Office Murals, the book includes:
130 full-color images of the murals
70 images of buildings and cornerstones
Full-color map with the location of each town
The history and story of each mural
The book is available online from several retailers. Find more details on postofficefans.com.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the San Francisco School Board that to cover up the George Washington High School Mural would be “to deny our past and to fail our students.” Read the San Francisco Chronicle story here. Photo: Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle.
Contact: Jon Golinger – for Coalition to Protect Public Art (415) 531-8585 Noah Griffin – for Mr. Glover (415) 756-3933
DANNY GLOVER SPEAKS OUT IN OPPOSITION TO DESTRUCTION OR COVERING OF NEW DEAL MURALS AT GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL
Today, internationally acclaimed actor, activist and social justice warrior Danny Glover signed on to join the Advisory Committee of the Coalition to Protect Public Art to support the cause of preserving the 13 Victor Arnautoff New Deal Murals at George Washington High School and oppose destroying the murals or blocking them from view.
In a statement today, Mr. Glover said: “As a Washington High graduate, I’ve spent my entire life fighting for freedom and the right of artistic expression. Whether it was being in the forefront to bring about the first Black Studies Department in the country at San Francisco State or being involved in films like The Color Purple and most recently the Last Black Man in San Francisco, my record is clear and unambiguous.
I am for freedom of expression and against artistic censorship. I view Arnautoff’s murals, as they were for me, a reminder of the horrors of human bondage and the mistreatment of native peoples, even by the father of our country.
To destroy them or block them from view would be akin to book burning. We would be missing the opportunity for enhanced historic introspection this moment has provided us.”
Mr. Glover joins more than two dozen artists and art community leaders, civil rights leaders, educators, George Washington High School Alumni, and San Franciscans from across the political spectrum on the Advisory Committee for the Coalition to Protect Public Art.
The CPPA Advisory Committee now includes the following individuals:
COALITION TO PROTECT PUBLIC ART ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Art Agnos, former Mayor of San Francisco
JoAnne Bernstein, Professor Emerita of Art History, Mills College
Robert Tamaka Bailey, Choctaw Nation Elder
Enrique Chagoya, Painter, Printmaker, Professor, Stanford University Dept. of Art
Gwen Chan, Former Interim Superintendent, SF Unified School District
Dewey Crumpler, Professor, SF Art Institute and Muralist, GW High School
Danny Glover, Actor and Alumnus of George Washington High School
Noah Griffin, Commissioner, USA 250 Commission
Emil de Guzman, former leader, International Hotel Tenants Association
Henry Der, former Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action
Dianne Fukami, Bay Area filmmaker
Matt Gonzalez, former President, SF Board of Supervisors
Alvin Ja, former leader, Asian American Political Alliance
Robert Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Quentin Kopp, former Judge and State Senator
Anne Kronenberg, former Director, SF Department of Emergency Services
Rocco Landesman, former Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Will Maynez, Curator, Diego Rivera Mural Project at City College of San Francisco
Annette Melville, Executive Director Emeritus, National Film Preservation Foundation
Dale Minami, Civil Rights Attorney & Co-founder, Asian Law Caucus
Therese Poletti, Preservation Director, Art Deco Society of California
Jeffrey Pollack, Former President, Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant Association
Barth Chief Eagle Robinson, Rosebud Sioux Tribe
John Rothmann, President, George Washington High School Alumni Association
Natalie Sabelnik, President, Congress of Russian Americans
Harvey Smith, President, National New Deal Preservation Association
John Trasvina, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity
Lope Yap, Jr., Vice-President, George Washington High School Alumni Association
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Paid for by the Coalition To Protect Public ArtFinancial disclosures available at sfethics.org
For Immediate Release: August 9, 2019 Contact: Jon Golinger, (415) 531-8585
Statement of Jon Golinger, Executive Director of the Coalition to Protect Public Art, on the proposed new SF Board of Education Resolution Regarding the SF Washington High School Murals
Friday, August 9, 2019 If this proposal is adopted at Tuesday’s Board meeting as proposed, we will applaud the decision by the School Board not to proceed with the destruction of these unique and historic murals. It will be a positive step forward for the School Board to recognize that irreversibly destroying this important work of public art is the wrong course of action. While we are open to a wide range of reasonable options to address the concerns that have been raised, we will continue to oppose putting up an impenetrable barrier that blocks anyone from ever seeing these important works of art. It’s critical that any solution include a way for the murals to be made available for students, teachers, and others to view them for educational purposes. We also are ready to work with the School Board to support the creation of new murals from different perspectives and to develop an educational curriculum and materials that will put these historic murals in context and use them for educational purposes. We look forward to participating in cooperatively creating that result. See the proposed resolution at: https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/sfusd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=BDLBWW2678D6
PRESS RELEASE For Immediate ReleaseCONTACT: Laura Dudnick Office: (415) 241-6565 Cell: (415) 730-0314 Email: [email protected] S.F. School Board President Stevon Cook Proposes Solution to Dispute Over Controversial Mural“Life of Washington” Mural Could be Preserved by Covering Over It to Make Way for New, Positive ArtworkSan Francisco (August 9, 2019) – The San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education President Stevon Cook said he will introduce a solution at the school board meeting on August 13 that will preserve the controversial “Life of Washington” mural by covering it without destroying it. “I am pleased to propose this solution to the controversy over the objectionable content depicted in the mural,” said School Board President Stevon Cook. “I am introducing a vote at our next regular Board of Education meeting to cover-over the mural with panels or another similar treatment, which will preserve the artwork and not destroy it. This should satisfy those who were concerned about the possible destruction of art.” He said it is important to note that there are strong passions on both sides of the debate. “Where we all agree is that the mural depicts the racist history of America, especially in regards to African Americans and Native Americans. It is important that we all share the agreement and acknowledgement of racism, discrimination, and the dehumanizing of people of color and women in American history,” Cook said. “Without harming this artwork we want to see something in its place that shows the heroism of people of color in America, how we have fought against, and continue to battle discrimination, racism, hatred, and poverty,” he said. “I can’t tell you what image ought to be on the walls of Washington High School, but it should be one that inspires young people, not one that dehumanizes them.” Earlier this year the District convened an 11-member community advisory committee (CAC) to address longstanding public concerns over objectionable content depicted in the 13-panel “Life of Washington” mural, located in the administration building at George Washington High School.
The controversial mural, commissioned by the U. S. Government in 1936 under a New Deal era art program, was painted using the fresco technique by the late Victor Arnautoff. Fresco mural painting is done on wet plaster; once the plaster dries, the mural becomes a permanent, integral part of the wall it was painted on. The CAC supported permanently removing the offensive content of the mural. In recent months, numerous community members, art historians and local preservationist have voiced their concern over the District’s intention to paint over the murals. Now, the Board will consider a resolution at its next meeting on August 13 at 6:00 p.m. that authorizes staff to develop a project, assessing a range of alternatives, for the purposes of CEQA review that removes from public view the Arnautoff Mural at George Washington High School using solid panels or equivalent material. The mural will be digitized as well, so that art and art historians can access it, but it will no longer be on public view at the school.
Join our campaign to save the historic WPA murals at the George Washington High School in San Francisco. The members of the SF School Board have voted on June 27 to destroy the murals. The Guardian, the New York Times, and The San Francisco Chronicle have reported that the destruction of the 1,600-sq-ft New Deal-era murals would cost at least $600,000. Hiding the artwork would cost up to $825,000. Please consider joining our letter-writing campaign and writing to the members SF School Board to express your concern about this loss of public art and erasure of the past—albeit a painful depiction of our nation’s history.
What you can do:
Help preserve New Deal art history by donating to the SAVE THE MURALS FUND, the George Washington High School Alumni Association’s campaign to save the murals from destruction.
Some parents and students at the school believe that two of Arnautoff’s 13 murals “glorify” racism. One controversial panel depicts slaves and the other shows Washington pointing westward over a murdered Indian. Art historians and the school’s alumni association interpret these as the artist’s condemnation of both slavery and the myth of so-called Manifest Destiny.
The destruction of these murals would be a significant loss for the public. Commissioned by the Federal Art Project, the George Washington High School murals belong to all Americans. Art historians have argued that the artist’s intent was, in fact, critical of national mythology, rather than condoning racism. Thus, the murals illuminate America’s history and hold valuable lessons. We believe that informative signage installed on site would offer an opportunity to make visible, rather than accept the historical injustices of Colonial America. History should not be erased. The National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington DC has displays devoted to a discussion of slavery. The Holocaust Museum is dedicated to educating about genocide so that people will “never forget,” what happened. The Choctaw Cultural Center educates visitors about the “Trail of Tears.” The George Washington High School can deliver the same message.
Despite public opposition, the San Francisco school board voted on Tuesday unanimously to remove the George Washington Arnautoff murals. The art has been the object of controversy for its depiction of slaves and a dead Native American. Find more details about the Board vote in a recent story in the San Francisco Chronicle.