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Post Office New Deal Artwork

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Hadn't known about this. It looks like there is some in Pennsylvania post offices (still there and viewable by the public):

Post Office New Deal Artwork

Most of the Post Office works of art were funded through commissions under the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture (later known as The Section of Fine Arts) and not the WPA.

“Often mistaken for WPA art, post office murals were actually executed by artists working for the Section of Fine Arts. Commonly known as “the Section,” it was established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department. Headed by Edward Bruce, a former lawyer, businessman, and artist, the Section’s main function was to select art of high quality to decorate public buildings if the funding was available. By providing decoration in public buildings, the art was made accessible to all people.” from “Articles from EnRoute : Off The Wall: New Deal Post Office Murals” by Patricia Raynor

http://www.wpamurals.com/pennsylv.htm

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Hi folks ❤️

 

From a year ago, April 2019. These stamps are still for sale on the USPS website...just got two sheets of them a few minutes ago.

U.S. Postal Service Honors Post Office Lobby Artwork with Stamps

Stamps Highlight Five Post Office Murals

Post Office Murals stamps

PIGGOTT, AR — Post Office lobby artwork painted in the 1930s and 1940s was celebrated today with the issuance of the Post Office Murals Forever stamps. The U.S. Postal Service dedicated the stamps today during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at the Piggott Main Post Office in Piggott, AR. The public is asked to share the news on social media using the hashtags #PostOfficeMurals and #MuralStamps.

“Scores of wonderful murals illuminate Post Office lobbies across the nation and these stamps help celebrate them as American treasures,” said Pat Mendonca, U.S. Postal Service Senior Director, Office of the Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer, who dedicated the stamps.

“The magnificent Air Mail mural, by Daniel Rhodes, located here at the Piggott Post Office, shows a local letter carrier helping pilots load bags of mail onto their plane. The mural represents postal employees’ commitment to serving our customers and communities across the United States. And that commitment to service continues today,” added Mendonca.

The origin of Post Office murals can be traced back to 1933. That year, in a letter to longtime acquaintance President Franklin D. Roosevelt, artist George Biddle suggested that the U.S. government should commission artists in need of work to enliven the walls of public buildings. Later that year, perhaps spurred by Biddle’s plea, the Roosevelt administration established the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). Funded by the Civil Works Administration and overseen by the Department of the Treasury, the New Deal program led to the hiring of more than 3,700 artists.


more at

https://about.usps.com/newsroom/national-releases/2019/0410-new-stamps-feature-post-office-murals.htm

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Posted (edited)

Where to enjoy art? The post office, of course

  • By Jim Winnerman Special to the Post-Dispatch
  • Aug 17, 2020

It may be the most unique collection of art in the world. An estimated 1,200 large murals, all painted between 1934 and 1943, remain on the walls of an equal number of United States post offices. Separated by many miles, the multitude of art by 850 artists is displayed in every state.

In Missouri there are 29 murals, while Illinois is home to 77. Several in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

“The murals were commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts near the end of the Depression,” says United States Postal Service historian Jenny Lynch. “They were painted and installed in post offices during President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration. The objective was to make people feel uplifted and positive during a very difficult time in our history, while also creating something of lasting beauty and significance to American citizens. Moreover, they also provided work for unemployed artists.”

 

more, with photos, at

https://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/where-to-enjoy-art-the-post-office-of-course/

Edited by prettylight

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Why Saving the USPS Means Saving Iconic American Art

President Trump's threat to withhold funds for the U.S. Postal Services threatens the survival of thousands of New Deal-era works  
 

In 1938, when artist Ben Shahn and his wife, Bernarda Bryson Shahn, were at work on a sprawling egg-tempera mural inside the Bronx General Post Office, she said that they joked, “We raised the price on all the eggs in New York.” It was, indeed, a hulking commission—13 panels inspired by Walt Whitman lines about laborers—and it was just one of more than 1,200 pieces that artists completed for post offices throughout the United States in the 1930s and ’40s through the New Deal.

As the U.S. Postal Service comes under attack from President Donald Trump and faces cuts from the newly installed postmaster general, its vast cultural legacy has never been more important. The agency has not only provided affordable communication for centuries, it facilitated elections and offered fairly paid employment for millions, particularly for Black Americans

The USPS has helped shape our national identity by bringing art and architecture to every part of the country. Its vast art holdings exemplify the vitality of public goods and spaces.

 
Mural at Pittsburgh Pa. Post Office

Pittsburgh panorama at U.S. Courthouse and Post Office, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)

Buyenlarge

Pursuing programs to employ artists, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of creating art that would be “native, human, eager and alive,” Winifred Gallagher writes in his 2016 history, How the Post Office Created America. Among the hundreds that took up that cause were now-canonical figures like Philip Guston (in Commerce, Georgia), Milton Avery (Rockville, Indiana), and Archibald Motley (Wood River, Illinois).

The murals amount to a “historical record of a national experiment that was partly meant to reassert ideal regional values being threatened by the despair brought on by the Great Depression,” said Phil Parisi, a retired journal editor in Logan, Utah, who wrote a book on Texas’s post-office murals.

In many cases, the artists in the ’30s and ’40s were delivering work to places that were far from any art museum. “The only trouble with the pictures is that they are so good they call for more of the same,” a local paper in Marlinton, West Virginia, bemoaned of freshly unveiled murals, as Devin Leonard notes in his 2016 history of the USPS, Neither Snow Nor Rain.

The arrival of a Post Office building was often a seismic event in a small town. When the federal government put one, for example, in Walterboro, South Carolina, about an hour by car from Charleston, it was “the first new building that they had had in their lifetime,” an innkeeper reported, according to art historian Karal Ann Marling in her book on the murals, Wall-to-Wall America.

 

more at

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/saving-usps-means-saving-iconic-american-art

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

USPS Officials Order Historic Murals Covered in 12 States; Considering Removal

 

From Rural Florida to Upstate New York


Internal emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act reveal that an "artwork workgroup” of high-level United States Postal Service (USPS) officials, including attorneys and USPS's Federal Preservation Officer, has directed facilities and maintenance personnel to cover up 80-year-old murals housed at 16 post offices spanning 12 states. USPS is considering the murals' outright removal, and it is unclear whether this initiative will expand to include historic artwork at additional locations.

Recent photographs from four of these locations show tarp-like plastic sheets, resembling heavy-duty garbage bags, covering the entirety of their respective murals to render them unviewable. The coordinated effort is without modern precedent, and the Postal Service has repeatedly declined to explain its actions in response to inquiries from local news reporters and even members of Congress.

Before and after (covered): Photographs of the 1940 mural, "Cotton—From Field to Mill," at the Jackson, Georgia post office, taken Jan. 2008 and Aug. 2020. Photos courtesy Jimmy Emerson.
'Cotton--From Field to Mill,' at the Jackson, Georgia post office. Photographed January 2008 by Jimmy Emerson.
'Cotton--From Field to Mill,' covered, at the Jackson, Georgia post office. Photographed Aug. 2020 by Jimmy Emerson.

Impacted post offices serve locations ranging from small cities in Illinois and Florida to the suburbs of Boston and Baltimore, as well as multiple locations in the Deep South. Several of the post offices are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the post offices, in New York's Hudson Valley, was uniquely designed to the specifications of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose New Deal programs commissioned each of the murals.
 

Dismissing Information Requests


Postmasters and employees at post offices have been instructed not to respond to requests for comment regarding the murals. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many know little, if anything, about the situation. Requests to USPS for information are funneled through communications "field managers" for inquiries from "the Postmasters and media," and Government Relations (GR) officials "for any congressional inquiries they may get." The response is exactly the same.

Internally this blanket response is known as the holding statement, which reads as follows:
In past decades, artwork has been placed in Post Office lobbies for permanent public display. Traditionally, Post Office lobbies were community gathering spots, frequently visited by community members from all walks of life, making those locations particularly accessible display sites.

The Postal Service respects and embraces the uniqueness and diversity of every individual. And we encourage contributions of people from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, including those of our employees and members of the communities we serve.

While it is the policy of the Postal Service to preserve and protect the historic artwork in its collection for future generations, we are mindful that certain murals generate strong feelings for some of our employees and customers.

With that in mind, discussions are being held on how to properly handle and safeguard the future of those pieces. We are evaluating each of the pieces and we will work to ensure that appropriate action is taken on select murals, if deemed necessary.
On Friday, August 28, Postlandia emailed the following questions regarding the murals and "artwork workgroup" to two senior Public Relations Representatives, for this article:

• When and why was this group formed? Who is on it and why?
• How were these murals selected for covering and analysis [for potential removal]?
• How are the murals being analyzed? When will a determination for the murals' “final disposition” be complete?
• What are the options being considered for the murals’ “final disposition”—e.g. returning to the way things were; adding informational plaques, etc.; relocation to storage; relocation to a public-facing institution, like a museum; or destruction?

Instead of answers to any of these questions, the author was treated to a startling string of private Reply All emails to which he was accidentally cc'ed, in which the two senior Public Relations officials questioned his character and the motivation for this journalism. They proceeded with the following internal discussion:

PR (1): "I assume this is someone we dealt with before? Who is he with?"
PR (2): "He is the guy who recently filed two foias for the murals. He's angry that we're covering up some of the murals in POs. ...
PR (1): "Based on that I think we don't provide further information."

At this point one of the officials attempted to recall two of the emails; they later apologized for the "inadvertent emails" while fully denying the request for information.
 

Regulations and Precedent


The Postal Service is responsible for the preservation and maintenance of most of the 1,400+ murals, bas reliefs, and sculptures commissioned for federal buildings (including post offices) by the Treasury Department's Section of Fine Arts and similar New Deal agencies between 1934 and 1944. Over the years many of these works have been mistakenly attributed to the Works Progress Administration (WPA); however, the WPA's Federal Art Project did not participate in the creation of artwork—also known as "decorations," or "embellishments"—for federal buildings.

The covering of these murals deviates sharply from modern USPS precedents. In 2019, when one couple petitioned for the modification or removal of the mural "Three Ages of Phoebe Goodell Judson," which has been on display at the Lynden, Washington post office since 1942, a USPS official "cited the General Services Administration Fine Arts Policies and Procedures in his response saying “adverse public opinion ... does not justify the relocation, covering from public view, or removal of artwork."

As recently as July 2020, in response to complaints about the mural "John Eliot Speaks to the Natick Indians," housed at the post office in downtown Natick, Massachusetts since 1937, a USPS Communications official confirmed:
Our policy has always been not to cover or remove these artworks based on one person or group's artistic interpretation, but to preserve the works in our custody for future generations. In some cases, we have added interpretive text alongside a mural to give it historical context.

The Postal Service's management of New Deal artwork is governed by Handbook RE-1: U.S. Postal Service Facilities Guide to Real Property Acquisitions and Related Services, § 333.2, which begins: "It is the policy of the Postal Service to preserve, protect, and maintain the New Deal Art Collection, defined as the Postal Service-owned murals and sculptures commissioned specifically for Postal Service facilities from 1934 to 1944..."

It is unclear how covering and potentially removing the murals supports this mission.

 

much more at

https://blog.evankalish.com/2020/09/usps-officials-order-historic-murals-covered.html?mc_cid=5a4903b252&mc_eid=f1916471e4

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^

what would that accomplish?

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8 minutes ago, Pastor of Muppets said:

Trump's goal of stealing everything that isn't nailed down, and some that are nailed down.

steal it to sell?

part of wrecking everything good about the USPS?

Edited by prettylight

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1 minute ago, Farmer Vincent said:

Considering the subject matter in some of these paintings, I can understand the removal and support it.  

 hadn't thought of that

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