Luis Arenal and his assistant working no "North American Tropical Vegetation" for the new Psychiatric building at Bellevue HospitalFederal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, circa 1920-1965, bulk 1935-1942, Negative No.: 1368-D
In 1936 Luis Arenal and his assistant completed work on the mural entitled “North American Tropical Vegetation,” for the First Lobby Stairway of the new Psychiatric Building at Bellevue Hospital. It was one of over a dozen murals painted by artists for the new building with funds provided by the Federal Art Project arm of the Works Progress Administration. It so happens, that the new building for which Luis Arenal painted the mural was also a New Deal project. The building was constructed with the support the federal Public Works Administration (PWA).
Luis Arenal was a painter and sculptor born in Mexico in 1908 or 1909. His father died fighting in the Mexican Revolution shortly after Arenal was born. Arenal lived his life between Mexico and the U.S. In Mexico he was involved with anti-fascist and Electrical Workers’ Union politics. He studied fresco painting under David Alfaro Siqueiros at the Chouinard Art Institute during Siqueiros’ brief exile to Los Angeles, California in 1932. They also worked together in Mexico later on.
We know that one of the murals at Bellevue hospital entitled “Materials for Relaxation” by David Margolis has been restored. However, The Living New Deal needs further information to determine the current status of the other WPA murals painted for Bellevue Hospital.
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