Living New Deal in the News

The Vote to Destroy Washington High Arnautoff Mural Covered in The Guardian

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.

Art Censorship and the Refregier and Arnautoff Murals Covered in the San Francisco Chronicle

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.

George Washington High Murals: Gray Brechin Quoted in the Wall Street Journal

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.

Living New Deal Public Art Specialist Barbara Bernstein Quoted in aChicago Tribune story about the Oak Park Murals Removal

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.

Historic WPA Mural Removed from Oak Park School for Failing to Depict Diversity

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.

Restored WPA Model of San Francisco Covered in the San Francisco Chronicle

Sam Whiting of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about the journey of the WPA Model of San Francisco from the basement of Wurster Hall, to the exhibition halls of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Restored through a partnership between the Living New Deal, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and artists Bik Van Der Pol, the 1,500 sq. ft. model will be on display this Winter at all 29 branches of the San Francisco Public Library. Read the rest of the story here.

Gray Brechin Interviewed by Michael Keating, American City & County, Informa

Gray Brechin spoke to Michael Keating, Senior Editor at American City & County, Informa, about how the New Deal’s Infrastructure building effort compares to the current administration’s infrastructure plan. According to Brechin, the New Deal’s 10-year infrastructure building program was the equivalent of $785 billion in today’s dollars. In contrast, the Trump administration’s proposed 10-year infrastructure plan is $200 billion. The Living New Deal based this estimate on Brent McKee’s Living New Deal research project, which compiled data from New Deal agencies final reports. Find Michael Keating’s article here.

New Deal Map — Washington, DC


Check out our new map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.