Citywide Historic Context for New Deal San Francisco

Graves and Christopher VerPlanck are developing a study of New Deal era buildings, artworks, open spaces and infrastructure.  The project also includes city landmark nominations for three schools built or enhanced with WPA funds: George Washington High School, Theodore Roosevelt Middle School, and the Sunshine School.

 Photo: Amanda Law

Photo: Amanda Law

Murals at George Washington High School by Victor Arnautoff show the first president's life and work in San Francisco's largest fresco project.

   Photo: Donna Graves

  Photo: Donna Graves

Arnautoff, an active leftist, included several scenes of African American workers. In the 1960s, the murals became a source of outspoken anger from students who found the depictions of enslaved African Americans shucking corn, picking cotton, and loading barges as servile and humiliating.  The school's Afro-American Club convinced the SF Unified School District to commission response murals by the young artist Dewey Crumpler. His series of paintings, Multi-Ethnic Heritage: Black, Asian, Native/Latin American, were installed in 1974.

 Photo: Amanda Law

Photo: Amanda Law

 Photo: Donna Graves

Photo: Donna Graves