Fall 2019 Newsletter

The artist must be a critic of his society

In June, the San Francisco the Board of Education voted unanimously to destroy thirteen murals at George Washington High School it deems “racist.” Commissioned by the Federal Art Project in 1935, the frescoes depicting the life of the school’s namesake cover the walls and ceiling of the school’s main entrance. Victor Arnautoff painted Washington as son, surveyor, general, and president. He also showed him as a slaveowner and pointing colonists westward over the body of an Indian. Arnautoff’s murals are at odds with American mythology even today. “The artist must be a critic of his society,” he once said. There’s not a cherry tree is in sight.

The school board voted to “paint down” artworks that some parents say dehumanize and traumatize African American and Native American students. Historians, politicians, civil rights leaders, free-speech activists, authors, actors, and artists defend the murals, arguing that history needs to be taught, not whitewashed. The debate has drawn international media attention. In the face of growing condemnation, the school board last month reversed itself. It decided not to destroy the murals, it plans instead to install panels to permanently hide them at an estimated cost of more than $800,000. Mural advocates are weighing political and legal options. Stay tuned.

We are especially thankful for your advocacy and support!

In this Issue:


The “Life of Washington” Murals Explained

Click on the images below to enlarge.

 

Victor Arnautoff at work, George Washington High School, San Francisco, 1936
Arnautoff at work at GW High School, Courtesy of the History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Victor Arnautoff was one of the most prolific artists of the New Deal. Born in Russia in 1896, he served as a Calvary officer in WWI, and later in one of the White armies during the Russian Civil War. He arrived in San Francisco in 1925 to study art. When his student visa expired, he spent two years in Mexico as an assistant to the muralist Diego Rivera. In 1931, Arnautoff and his family returned to San Francisco, where he began to produce buon fresco murals, a technique in which the artist paints on wet plaster. The paint penetrates and becomes part of the wall, making frescoes very difficult to move.

Working for the WPA in 1936, Arnautoff created thirteen fresco murals at George Washington High School. Entitled the “Life of Washington,” the murals cover 1,600 square feet of the walls and ceilings of the school’s entry and main hallway. Arnautoff did extensive research for the murals. He wrote in his memoirs that he wanted to show two things: the life of George Washington and what he called the “spirit of his times.”  He also said, “The artist must be a critic of his society.” Arnautoff, who would soon join the Communist Party, called himself a social realist. He thought his paintings should show realistic people rather than abstract imagery, and felt an obligation to be a social critic.

Mural series, “Life of Washington”
Photo: Richard Evans

The first mural chronologically in Washington’s life is divided by an image of a tree.

Photo: Robert Cherny

On one side of this mural Arnautoff portrays Washington’s early life, including as a surveyor. On the other side he shows the French and Indian War, Washington’s first military experience. 

French Indian War
Photo: Richard Evans

Instead of placing Washington in the middle of this scene, Arnautoff put American Indians in the center, surrounded on all sides by the British, the French, and the American colonials. 

Raising the Flag
Photo: Richard Evans

Here Arnautoff depicted the origins of the American Revolution—the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, the burning of the tax stamps. Again, Arnautoff did not put Washington in the center. Washington is in the upper right, arriving to take command of the army. In the middle, Arnautoff painted several working-class men raising the new flag.

Men in Rags Valley Forge
Photo: Robert Cherny

This mural depicts the first winter at Valley Forge. The usual depiction of this event is a portrait of Washington praying in the snow. Arnautoff did something quite different. He shows Washington and three members of the Continental Congress warmly dressed in winter clothing and the enlisted men dressed in rags, their feet wrapped in bandages. Washington is pointing out the poor condition of his troops as a way of persuading Congress to give him more financial support. To me, this is Arnautoff’s social commentary on class privilege at the time of the American Revolution.

Mercenary Surrender
Photo: Robert Cherny

Arnautoff’s sketches for the mural suggest that this is a Hessian mercenary surrendering at Yorktown. Washington is absent from this mural. It is enlisted troops doing their duty.

Bidding Farewell Officer
Photo: Robert Cherny

This mural shows Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War bidding farewell to his officers, including Lafayette and Von Steuben, perhaps Arnautoff’s way of emphasizing that the American revolutionaries needed assistance from abroad to win their war of independence.

Washington with Hamilton and Jefferson
Photo: Robert Cherny

Opposite that mural, Arnautoff depicted Washington as president, mediating between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson over the new Constitution.

Alcove Banner
Photo: Robert Cherny

At the entrance to that alcove, Arnautoff put this banner with a quotation from Washington about the importance of educational institutions.

Washington with Mother
Photo: Robert Cherny

In the final alcove, Arnautoff presented two more scenes related to Washington’s presidency. This one shows him bidding farewell to his dying mother. By some accounts, Washington was reluctant to leave her, but she encouraged him to go because of the importance of the work facing him as the first president.

Washington with Children
Photo: Robert Cherny

Arnautoff learned through his research that Washington had tried to create a national university. 

Mount Vernon
Photo: Richard Evans

Now controversial, this mural shows Washington at his Mount Vernon plantation. Once again, Washington is on the margins. Arnautoff put enslaved African Americans at in the center of this mural. This was his comment on the fact— all too often ignored in the 1930s—that the same men who signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring “all men are created equal,” owned other people as property. For Arnautoff this was one of the great contradictions of Washington’s time, and he makes clear in this mural that Washington was dependent on enslaved labor for his wealth. Arnautoff was clearly using his art to provide social criticism.

Pioneer Mural
Photo: Richard Evans

Arnautoff said that, in his research for the mural, he looked for ways to connect Washington to the West. This would have been difficult because at the time the nation ended at the Mississippi River. But he found a reference to Washington making a statement about the significance of the West.

Arnautoff divided this now-controversial mural into three separate stories.   Washington is on the left side, pointing west. In the center, Arnautoff’s social criticism is seen in what the artist called “the march of the white race from the Atlantic to the Pacific.” Arnautoff’s murals are all painted in color, but these westward marching pioneers are shown in a ghastly grey scale—a technique he learned from Diego Rivera. Arnautoff’s pioneers are marching past a dead Indian warrior, his commentary on the settlement of the West.

The third story in this mural is on the right, where a white man and an American Indian chief are sitting down together with a peace pipe. Over their heads, however, is a broken branch, apparently Arnautoff’s way of depicting broken promises and treaties.

For Arnautoff, the “spirit of the times” of early American history involved its greatest injustices: slavery and the killing and dispossession of America’s First People.  

Liberty Ceiling Mural
Photo: Robert Cherny

On the ceiling of the first alcove, Arnautoff placed the moon, a symbol of war, and above the second, a sun and rainbow, symbols for peace. On the ceiling of the third alcove is Liberty putting thirteen new stars onto a blue field. 

Robert W. Cherny is professor emeritus of history at San Francisco State University. He is the author of Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art (University of Illinois Press, 2017), and numerous books and essays on U.S. history and politics.

Democratizing Beauty

Berkeley, California Rose Garden

Berkeley, California Rose Garden
The garden, featuring 1,500 varieties of roses, was one of the first of the New Deal’s Civil Works Progress projects. Conceived in 1933, it was dedicated for public use in 1937.
Photo Credit: Susan Ives

I had to think hard when a reporter recently asked me what most surprised me about what I’ve learned about the New Deal. After a pause, I replied “The importance of aesthetics.” My response was primed by the first sentence of a list of goals set forth by the National Resources Planning Board [NPRB] for what the Roosevelt Administration sought to achieve after the war:

“The fullest possible development of the human personality, in relation to the common good, in a framework of freedoms and rights, of justice, liberty, equality, and the consent of the governed.”

I marveled at how alien such a high and holistic aspiration seemed not only in the present but in all the administrations of my lifetime. It was especially so in light of the time it was written— January, 1943 at the nadir of the Second World War when Americans were still under food rationing. But, in fact, it succinctly summarizes much of what the New Deal set out to accomplish.

Central Court, Main Library, Toledo, Ohio

Central Court, Main Library, Toledo, Ohio
This public library was constructed in 1939 with the aid of Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). A multi-color glass mosaic crowns the lobby.
Photo Credit: Evan Kalish

Although Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt had all of the advantages that inherited wealth and status gave them—spending three months on the Grand Tour of Europe for their honeymoon, for example—they both came to believe that access to beauty should not be the exclusive prerogative of their own class. In 1941, in his dedication of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt declared that great works of art such as those in the Gallery belong to all men everywhere, but that the government furthermore had a duty to create new art and take it to where there had been none before.

The WPA’s Federal Music, Theatre, Writing, and Art Projects and the Treasury Section of Fine Arts did just that, so that Roosevelt could deftly leap in his speech from Andrew Mellon’s gift of Old Masters in the Gallery to what FDR felt all Americans were entitled to: “Recently… they have seen in their own towns, in their own villages and schoolhouses and post offices, in the backrooms of shops and stores, pictures painted by their sons, their neighbors, people they’ve known and lived beside and talked to.” Both FDR and Eleanor believed that access to beauty was essential for “the full development of the human personality” not only for healthy individuals, but also for a healthy democracy. Even in the absence—or obverse—of such goals at the federal level today, New Deal projects such as Central Park’s Conservatory Gardens, Mt Hood’s Timberline Lodge, and Denver’s Red Rock Amphitheatre have enabled millions to nourish their spirits just as the NPRB hoped they would in the midst of war.

 

Sunshine School for Crippled Children, San Francisco
The richly detailed interior and exterior of the school, built in 1937, was meant to provide a cheerful atmosphere for the disabled children.
Photo Credit: Gray Brechin

Sculptor Wheeler Williams created this relief for the Canal Street Station Post Office in Manhattan in 1938.

Indian Bowman
Sculptor Wheeler Williams created this relief for the Canal Street Station Post Office in Manhattan in 1938.
Photo Credit: Susan Ives

From FDR’s speech at the National Gallery dedication:

“Great works of art belong to all men everywhere. Art was foreign to Americans, they were taught. Recently, they have discovered that they have a part. They have seen their own towns, in their own villages and schoolhouses and Post Offices, in the backrooms of shops and stores, pictures painted by their sons, their neighbors, people they’ve known and lived beside and talked to. They have seen across these last few years rooms full of painting and sculptures by Americans. Walls covered with the paintings by Americans. Some of it good, some of it not so good. But all of it native and human and eager and alive; all of it painted by their own kind in this country. And painted about things they know and look at often and have touched and loved.” 

Dedicated in conviction that the freedom of the human spirit shall go on too.

Gray Brechin is a geographer and Project Scholar of the Living New Deal. He is the author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin.

Discovering the New Deal at the NYC Municipal Archives and Library

“Swim” original art for subway, 1937. Tempura water color on tissue paper; artist unknown
A life-long swimmer, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses vastly expanded access to aquatic facilities for New Yorkers. In 1936, he opened ten new swimming pools and during his long tenure he built and improved public beaches throughout the city.
Photo Credit: Department of Parks General Files, 1937. NYC Municipal Archives

Located in one of the City’s most beautiful Beaux-Arts buildings, the landmark Surrogate’s Court at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan’s Civic Center, are the Municipal Archives and Municipal Library. Here the City preserves and makes available to the public the historical and contemporary records of New York City’s municipal government. 

To the eternal benefit of generations of historians and researchers, the Archives hold two extensive collections essential for exploring the New Deal in New York City. 

Documenting the New Deal in the city is largely a tale of two remarkable New Yorkers, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and ‘master builder’ Robert Moses. Records in the Archives of their influence and impact on the city total more than 1,500 cubic feet.

Fiorello LaGuardia represented a Manhattan district in the U.S. Congress from 1916 – 1932. Elected New York’s mayor in 1933, he served three terms, 1934 – 1945. When Works Progress Administration funding became available in 1935, LaGuardia persuaded FDR to release billions of dollars for construction projects. It was a partnership that would forever change the city. New York would receive more federal funds than any other city in the nation and employed more than 700,000 people through the Depression years. They built or renovated schools, bridges, parks, hospitals, highways, airports, stadiums, swimming pools, beaches, hospitals, piers, sewers, libraries, courthouses, firehouses, markets, and housing projects throughout the five boroughs. 

Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, March 6, 1934
Several blocks of tenements in Manhattan’s lower East Side, from Houston to Rivington Streets, were razed for construction of the Sara Delano Roosevelt Park.
Photo Credit: Department of Parks Collection, DPR_0046. NYC Municipal Archives

LaGuardia’s correspondence and other materials from his public service are housed at the Municipal Archives. Of particular interest to New Deal historians are the subject files. These include records pertaining to the Civilian Conservation Corps, housing projects, public works, and LaGuardia’s extensive correspondence with officials in Washington D.C.—totaling 365,000 documents.

LaGuardia’s records have been available at the Municipal Archives since its founding in 1952. The Robert Moses collection is a more recent addition. 

In 1984, city archivists visited a Department of Parks and Recreation storage facility at the Manhattan Boat Basin where they discovered 800 cubic feet of material—about 400,000 items—from 1934 through the 1970s, comprising a nearly complete record of the WPA-funded projects during Moses’s long reign as a New York power broker. Moses served as Commissioner of the Department of Parks from 1934 through 1960, while he also held at least a dozen city and state positions. The records found at the Boat Basin are in remarkably good condition, consisting of carbons or originals of Moses’s correspondence, memoranda, transcripts, reports, contracts, news clippings, maps, blueprints, plans, printed materials, press releases, invitations, and photographs.

Harry Hopkins, who headed the WPA, extended the program to include white-collar professionals in art, theater, music and writing programs, insisting that “They have to eat like other people.” Records at the Archives include photographs, manuscripts and research files of the NYC Unit of the Federal Writers’ Project, which produced books and pamphlets ranging from the popular New York Panorama and New York City Guide, to How We Keep our City Clean, History of WNYC—(the city’s premier radio station), and Architecture of New York

Astoria Pool, Queens, August 20, 1936.

Astoria Pool, Queens, August 20, 1936.
Opened July 2, 1936, Astoria Pool is the largest of the eleven pools Moses built with funding from the Works Progress Administration program.
Photo Credit: Department of Parks Collection, DPR_10776-2. NYC Municipal Archives

Pelham Bay Park, October 22, 1941.

Pelham Bay Park, October 22, 1941.
No detail was too small or building too insignificant for Moses and his talented team of architects as illustrated by the handsome design of this comfort station.
Photo Credit: Department of Parks Collection, DPR_20920. NYC Municipal Archives

 

New York City’s archival program dates back more than a century to establishment of the Municipal Reference Library in 1913.  Under the leadership of long-time Library Director Rebecca Rankin (1920-1952), the Library began acquiring original historical documents from City municipal offices. During the 1930s, with the backing of Mayor LaGuardia, Rankin developed a municipal records management and archives program, modeled on the federal system. Eventually, the program acquired a building and on June 30, 1952, the day Rankin retired, the Municipal Archives and Records Center officially opened. In 1977, the Municipal Archives and Municipal Library were incorporated into the newly established Department of Records & Information Services. 

Other highlights to be found at the Archive’s wide-ranging records are photographs of every house and building in New York City dating from 1940 and 1985, two centuries of mayoral papers, more than 1,500 drawings of Central Park, and the architectural plans for construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. The Archives regularly curates exhibitions that are open to the public. For information about access to collections, researchers are encouraged to email inquiries to [email protected].

Henry Hudson Parkway, ca. 1937

Henry Hudson Parkway, ca. 1937
Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Riverside Park was expanded and augmented with federal funds allocated for the highway. The Boat Basin at 79th Street was incorporated into the highway interchange at 79th Street.
Photo Credit: Municipal Archives Collection, MAC_0031. NYC Municipal Archives

Playground, Fifth Avenue and 130th Street, Manhattan, ca. 1937

Playground, Fifth Avenue and 130th Street, Manhattan, ca. 1937
One of the thousands of new playgrounds throughout the city built or renovated with WPA funds.
Photo Credit: Fiorello LaGuardia Collection, FHL_0117. NYC Municipal Archives.

 
Kenneth Cobb is Assistant Commissioner in the Department of Records & Information Services. He joined the Municipal Archives in 1978 and served as Director from 1990 through 2004.

On the Road with the American Guide Series

WPA American Travel Guides

WPA American Travel Guides
From the author’s collection
Photo Credit: Fern Nesson

The American Guide Series, produced by the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) between 1937 and 1942, is one of the best-known projects of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA).

Written as a collection of travel guides, the series included suggested driving tours and accompanying essays on the history and culture of each U.S. state and territory. Major U.S. cities and several regions also have their own WPA guidebooks.

Poster for American Guide Week

Poster for American Guide Week
President Roosevelt offered his support for the Federal Writers’ Project American Guide Series on this poster celebrating American Guide week, November 10–16, 1941. The individual state guides were meant, as he noted, to “illustrate our national way of life, yet at the same time portray variants in local patterns of living and regional development.”
Photo Credit: Poster courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Each guide was written by a team and published anonymously. Several now-famous American authors got their start working for the FAP. Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, and Zora Neale Hurston were among those who survived the Great Depression as writers of the American Guides.

Less renowned and anonymous writers deserve equal credit. They were a careful and inquisitive bunch with a wide range of talents and interests. The wealth of knowledge conveyed in each guide is astonishing.  From architectural history, economic research, fishing and hunting, folklore, regional foods, cooking, Native American history, literature, regional language differences, botany, geology, race relations, labor movements, to women’s rights—there was someone at the FAP who could write with authority on it.

I first became interested in the guides in the 1980s when I was a doctoral candidate in American Studies at Brandeis University. In that pre-internet era, finding the WPA guides presented quite a challenge. It took me nearly five years searching used bookstores around the country to amass a complete set of the 48 state guides and many regional and city guides—most of them first editions. 

The guides give a fascinating snapshot of American life in the 1930s. Written in a lively and approachable style, they detail and celebrate the rich diversity of the country at that time. The writers’ enthusiasm is infectious and their guides are as much fun to read today as they must have been for travelers in the 1930s.

The Crescent City

The Crescent City
New Orleans City Guide, 1938

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras
New Orleans City Guide, 1938

Maps from Oklahoma Guide

Maps from Oklahoma Guide
Stages of development of the Oklahoma through its history
Photo Credit: Fern Nesson

For years, I considered writing about the guides, but it was not until last November, after 20 years as a lawyer, 25 more as a teacher, and the last three as a student of fine art photography that I hit upon a format for doing so. After completing my MFA I found the time to travel and decided to use the guides as inspiration for where to go. Going back to their delightful mélange of cultural and historical essays and suggested back roads seemed a wonderful way to explore the country. Reportedly John Steinbeck hit the road with the WPA guides when he embarked on a 10,000-mile road trip with his poodle in 1960, memorialized in his travelogue Travels With Charley: In Search of America.  

The project has been endlessly fascinating. Remarkably, much along the routes remains unchanged, at least in the places I have visited so far. Yet, much has changed—some things for the better, others distinctly not. Old houses in Maine that were derelict in the 1930s are now beautifully restored homes for wealthy summer residents. Once sleepy towns and small cities are today engulfed by sprawl and strip malls. The encouragement that the guides gave to sightseeing by automobile—tourism being a way to lift the economy—now seems positively regrettable, cars being no longer a novelty but a bane.

Snake River Gorge from "Idaho: A Guide in Word and Picture,” 1937

Snake River Gorge from "Idaho: A Guide in Word and Picture,” 1937
Idaho was the first state guidebook in the American Guide Series created by the Idaho Federal Writers’ Project. At the time Idaho had less than half a million residents and few people were planning to go there.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections & Archives,

One thing that should never be regretted is the American Guide Series itself. Not only do the guides provide invaluable historical source material and interesting routes for tourists, they also express trenchant but subtle criticism of injustice in our country. The writers exposed racism, anti-unionism, poverty, and inequality when they saw it. Without comment, they let the statistics speak for themselves. But their message was clear: this country could and should do better by its people.

The idealism and open-heartedness with which the FWP explored our country’s diversity, geography, and challenges led me to want to follow in their footsteps. So far, I have completed eight photo essays with the guides as a travel companion. I cannot think of a better way to see this country.

Vermont Guide to the Green Mountain State

Vermont
Guide to the Green Mountain State
Photo Credit: Courtesy Fern Nesson

 
Fern L. Nesson is a graduate of Harvard Law School and received an MA in American History from Brandeis and an M.F.A in Photography from the Maine Media College. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She practiced law in Boston for twenty years and subsequently taught American History at the Cambridge School of Weston and the Commonwealth School in Boston. She is now a Post-graduate Fellow and an Artist-in-Residence at the Maine Media College and an Associate at the Optical Lab at the MIT Museum. Fern wrote Great Waters: A History of Boston’s Water Supply (1982) and Signet of Eternity (2017). She is currently working on a combined history and photography book on the WPA’s American Guide Series. Her photographs have been shown in galleries in Massachusetts and Maine, at “Les Rencontres de la Photographie” in Arles, France and at the Center for Maine Cotemporary Art. Her work appears on the Living New Deal website as well as on the Global Voices and Berkman-Klein Center at Harvard Law School websites. Fern’s photography work can be found at www.fernlnesson.com.

Volunteers “Pitch in” to Save WPA Sculpture at Golden Gate Park

Horseshoe player at Golden Gate Park, 1969

Horseshoe player at Golden Gate Park, 1969
Long neglected, the courts have been largely restored.

A thousand acres of shifting sand with clusters of old-growth live oak were the raw materials for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. By the 1870s the dunes had been transformed into a Victorian-era commons for the burgeoning city.

San Francisco’s elite mingled with the town’s hoi polloi at the ornate Victorian Conservatory of Flowers, on trails wending through the oak woodlands in Mayor Coon’s Hollow, and at the Horseshoe Courts in the old Lick Hill quarry—its stone walls and platforms a tribute to the ancient game of “quoits,” devised by Roman soldiers in occupied Britain subsequently embraced by medieval English peasants.

Horseshoe Courts at Golden Gate Park

Horseshoe Courts at Golden Gate Park
The larger-than-life-size, bas relief horse and rock walls are artifacts of the WPA. The sculpture fell in 2009 and is beyond repair.
Photo Credit: Gray Brechin

In the 1930s, with unemployment at an all-time high, Golden Gate Park became one of San Francisco’s major job sites. WPA workers resurfaced roads, installed landscaping for Strybing Arboretum and built horse stables. The archery field, Angler’s Lodge and casting pools, the Model Yacht Club at Spreckels Lake, and the enhancement of the Horseshoe Courts were among the WPA’s projects.

In 1934 Jesse S. “Vet” Anderson, a Spanish American War veteran, illustrator, cartoonist, sculptor, and member of the Golden Gate Horseshoe Club, was commissioned to adorn the Horseshoe Courts with two bas-relief sculptures—the regal “Horse” and the athletic horseshoe “Pitcher.” Cast in concrete, the painted artworks presided over the courts only briefly. By the 1950s, society’s recreational tastes had changed. The courts were neglected, and were slowly overtaken by sand and vandalized. The surrounding oak woodlands became choked with ivy, blackberry, homeless camps, and trash. The sculptures vanished.  

"The Pitcher" at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park

"The Pitcher" at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park
Volunteers launched an effort to restore the court’s remaining 9×12 foot sculpture.
Photo Credit: Rob Bakewell

Forty years on, upset by the loss of the park’s natural assets and diminished public safety, neighbors, civic and environmental groups, and the Recreation and Parks Department’s new Natural Areas Program came together to turn the tide.  It took years and thousands of hours of volunteer labor, but the courts were cleared and repaired, the sculptures were recovered from the tangle of overgrowth, and the surrounding oak woodlands were revived.

Sadly, Vet Anderson’s concrete “Horse” could not be saved. It fell and crumbled in 2009. The WPA “Pitcher,” though partially restored the same year, is now structurally endangered. The estimated cost for the required restoration is substantial.

The artist’s signature

The artist’s signature
Vet Anderson, 1937
Photo Credit: Rob Bakewell

Fortunately, Friends of Oak Woodlands GGP, a partner of the San Francisco Parks Alliance; a new San Francisco Horseshoe Pitching Club; and community volunteers continue their advocacy and stewardship. As Golden Gate Park celebrates its 150th birthday in 2020, efforts are underway to restore Anderson’s WPA-era “Pitcher.”  For information and to support this project, please contact: Friends of the Oak Woodlands GG Park, [email protected], 415-710-9617.

Rob Bakewell has lived hard by Golden Gate Park for 30 years. He is co-founder of the Friends of Oak Woodlands GG Park, a volunteer organization that, under the fiscal sponsorship of SF Parks Alliance, has worked for more than 25 years to restore the park’s historic woodlands. A nature trail through the woodlands was recently dedicated by San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department and reopened to the public.

American Expressionism: Art and Social Change 1920-1950, by Bram Dijkstra

American Expressionism: Art and Social Change 1920-1950, by Bram Dijkstra

When in 1953 right-wingers sought to destroy Anton Refregier’s great mural cycle at Rincon Annex Post Office as “Un-American,” San Francisco’s art and political establishment united to successfully defend the iconic work—a masterpiece of New Deal social realism. Refregier, a… read more