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Art for the people, by the people

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By Wayne Lazarus on October 18th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Sometimes our nation’s history is so commonplace that we don’t notice it. Depression-era art can be seen in hundreds of post offices throughout the United States. Commissioned by the Section of Fine Arts from 1934 to 1944, artists around the country were paid to create paintings and sculpture for federal buildings. The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. has 55 of the 15,000 works of art created by the program on display in its “1934: A New Deal for Artists,” which opened in May. Monrovia CAThe exhibit will begin a national tour in January, 2010 at the Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will open in May at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art in Fort Wayne, Indiana, then on to Orlando, Florida at the Mennello Museum of American Art in February of 2011. In Oklahoma it will open at the Oklahoma City Museum in May of 2011, then in September at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama. In February, 2012 it will be in the Muskegon Museum of Art in Michigan, in June 2012 at the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul and then at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine from October to January 20, 2013.Back Bay Boston

You can enjoy this art in your own travels. Nanacy Lorance maintains an excellent website of the mural locations (and those places where murals are missing ) at www.wpamurals.com. She invites people to submit their photos or other information about New Deal art. Some of the murals, such as the one painted by Gustaf Dalstrom for the Herrin, Illinois post office in 1940 are in need of restoration. Missing for 45 years, this painting was recoverd in 2005 and is awaiting funding of $28,000 before work can begin. If you fall in love with any, you can purchase high-quality prints of the murals at The New York Times Store online. Proceeds go to restoration of the murals. (Photos courtesy USPS, used with permission.)

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