The East Bay Express‘ DeWitt Cheng wrote about the Victor Arnautoff mural the pitfalls of art censorship
“we cannot afford a younger generation trained to accept virtuous passivity. We need revolutionaries with smarts and moxie, and considerable skill at critical thinking — not just in being unthinkingly critical as instructed at the latest Two Minutes Hate. ”
Photo: East Bay Express. Read the piece here.
CBS SF Bay Area reports that more than 100 people walked through the halls of Washington High School Thursday to view the controversial murals that the San Francisco Unified School District board recently voted to cover up. Read the story here.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that hundreds of people came to view Victor Arnautoff’s George Washington High School Mural before its planned destruction. The school was briefly open to the public for the tour on Thursday, August 1. Read the story here. Photo by Lea Suzuki / The Chronicle.
A group of preservationists and activists plans to put a measure on San Francisco’s March 2020 ballot that would preserve the embattled Victor Arnautoff mural at George Washington High School.
In an editorial published this week, The New York Times Editorial Board writes that “San Francisco Will Spend $600,000 to Erase History.” Read the piece here.
A story published in The Guardian on June 27 provides details about the controversial vote of the San Francisco School Board to destroy the “Life of Washington” murals located at the George Washington High School in San Francisco. Those in favor of removal have argued that the mural’s depiction of slaves and of the killing of a Native American glorifies racism. Those supporting conservation and have argued that the artist’s intent was to criticize and make visible controversial moments in American history. The destruction of the mural, they argue, would be an act of censorship. The Guardian reports that the destruction of the1,600-sq-ft New Deal-era muralwould cost at least $600,000. Hiding the artwork would cost up to $825,000. Read the story here.
Refregier Murals at Rincon Annex
Photo by Gray Brechin
A San Francisco Chronicle piece by Gary Kamiya, compares the efforts to remove the Arnautoff Murals at the George Washnighton High School in San Francisco to similar attacks on the Refregier murals during the McCarthy era. Titled, “When a red-hunting Congress took on SF murals — and lost,” the piece brings into focus the forgotten history of art censorship in San Francisco. Read the story here.
Living New Deal founder Gray Brechin has written extensively about the attempts to censor Anton Refregier’s murals at the Rincon Annex Post Office in San Francisco. His article, titled, “Politics and Modernism: The Trial of the Rincon Annex Murals,” examines the political backlash and struggle to preserve the murals.
An opinion piece by historian Fergus M. Bordewich, published on April 26 in the Wall Street Journal, discusses how the possible removal of the Arnautoff murals might set a dangerous precedent for art censorship. Living New Deal founder Gray Brechin was quoted in the piece: “[I]f they are successful at destroying the murals, then no art that anyone finds offensive will be safe. . . . Are we to have a Museum of Suppressed Art to contain this pogrom of images?” Read the opinion piece here.
A story published in the Chicago Tribunefocuses on the recent removal of the WPA mural from the Oak Park Middle School. Living New Deal Public Art Specialist Barbara Bernstein spoke to the Steve Schering about the historical significance of New Deal murals. “Instead of removing these murals, let’s add new ones that bring the picture of life in Oak Park up to date,” said Bernstein. Read the entire story here.
A historic Works Progress Administration mural at the Percy Julian Junior High School was removed after school officials decided that it did not represent represent the school’s diversity. Living New Deal team member Barbara Bernstein was interviewed by Manny Ramos for the Chicago Sun Times. “I think it does a real disservice to remove a piece of historical work,” said Bernstein.
This oil on canvas mural “Child and Sports–Winter” was painted by Ethel Spears in 1937 with WPA Federal Art Project funding. Read the Chicago Sun Times story here.
Gray Brechin was interviewed for a story about the George Washington Murals, published today in the New York Times. The story describes the struggles over how controversial moments of our history should be depicted. According to Brechin, “[i]t’s not a matter of erasing art, it’s erasing history itself.” Read the story here.
On April 9, 2019, the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board made a powerful argument in support of the George Washington High School murals conservation. The editorial equates the removal of the murals to “laundering history,” and warns of the perils of engaging in censorship. Read the full editorial here.
A story by Jill Tucker and Gwendolyn Wu published on April 8 in the San Francisco Chronicle provides details about the battles surrounding the removal of the Washington High Victor Arnautoff Mural. Read theChronicle story here.
A story by Alex Lash published in the Frisc reports on the debates surrounding the Washington High Victor Arnautoff Mural, as well as the efforts to save it. Living New Deal team member, Barbara Bernstein, and distinguished historian and expert on Arnautoff, Professor Robert Cherny, were interviewed for the story. Read the Frisc article here.
Living New Deal Director Richard Walker was interviewed by KPFA’s Doug Henwood on Behind the News. The talk focused on what the original New Deal can teach the Green New Deal.
Listen to the show here.