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.
Living New Deal in the News
Art Censorship and the Refregier and Arnautoff Murals Covered in the San Francisco Chronicle
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.
LND Founder Gray Brechin Speaks to the The New York Times about the Arnautof Murals
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.
The San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board Makes Argument in Defense of the George Washington High Murals
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.
Washington High Arnautoff Mural Covered in the San Francisco Chronicle
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.
Washington High Mural Debate Covered in The Frisc
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 A Walker Interviewed by Doug Henwood on KPFA
Living New Deal Director Richard A 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.
Green New Deal Opinion Piece by LND Director Richard A Walker Published in the Washington Post
Living New Deal Director Richard A Walker has published an opinion piece in the Washington Post. Titled, Nine Principles that Should Guide the Green New Deal, Lessons drawn from the successes — and failures — of the first New Deal, the piece offers an overview of how the Roosevelt Administration tackled a major national crisis. Read more 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.
“When Government Worked” Exhibit Reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle
The San Francisco Chronicle recently covered the Arthur Rothstein photography exhibit “When Government Worked: New Deal Picture Stories by Arthur Rothstein.” The exhibit is a collaboration between the Living New Deal and the Arthur Rothstein Legacy Project. Held at the Canessa Gallery through December 27, the fundraiser exhibit showcases Rothstein’s photographs of the Great Depression. Some of the highlights included in the Chronicle are Rothstein’s photographs of sharecroppers displaced by the Dust Bowl, labor crews at work on infrastructure projects, and President Roosevelt’s tours of drought areas. The story describes how the exhibit was born out of a partnership between the Living New Deal and the exhibit curators, Ann Rothstein-Segan and Brodie Hefner. Many of the photographs on show, as the article points out, have never been published. Anne Rothstein-Segan, Arthur Rothstein’s daughter, uncovered many of these rare images at the Library of Congress. Read the entire story here.
The Exhibit will be open Tuesday-Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm Closed Mondays & Christmas Day. See more details here.
Living New Deal Mentioned in Harper’s Magazine Article by Kevin Baker
In his Harper’s Magazine cover story, Kevin Baker mentions the Living New Deal for its work on documenting New Deal sites in New York City. Baker’s article chronicles the decades of urban displacement that have turned New York City into “the world’s largest gated community.” The piece mentions “The New Deal in New York City,” the exhibition organized at Hunter College’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. Read the full article here.