Cairo Mural Second SketchSketch of workers sandbagging the bulkheads.
This federal courthouse and post office was constructed by the Treasury Department in 1942.
The Treasury Section of Fine Arts also provided a mural by Wendell Jones for the new building. However, Cairo residents refused to accept it. The mural “Sandbagging the Bulkheads” was the fourth mural Jones executed for the Section and was meant to be the consolation prize for being voted runner up to Anton Refregier in the San Francisco Rincon Annex competition. It was completed in 1944. After it was rejected by Cairo, the government sent it to DC to become part of an international mural exhibition at the end of WWII. It was subsequently lost, but tempera on panel sketches and a pencil study for the mural, as well as a color transparency of the original, are still extant. Images have been provided to this site by the artist’s son.
Project originally submitted by Peter Jones on September 13, 2013.
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The town fathers of Cairo rejected the mural because it did not specifically glorify the town fathers of Cairo.
Foolish of them to reject this wonderful work. I think citizens of a more sophisticated time and place would have seen the benefit of having such a strong work even if it reminded them of a past hardship. Floods are an undeniable part of that area. The mural might have been cautionary as well as handsome and instructive.