Friday, March 12, 2010

New Deal Post Office Murals on Display

A new exhibit of high-resolution photographs hosted by Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area has opened at the Bost Building in Homestead called “A Common Canvas: Pennsylvania’s New Deal Post Office Murals”. The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg organized and premiered the exhibit, which runs here through August 12th.

Co-curator David Lembeck of State College says between 1934 and 1943, as part of FDR’s New Deal, the Treasury Department funded construction of public buildings around the country—over ninety in Pennsylvania. One-percent of the budget, usually about 600 to 1000 dollars, was in some cases used to commission sculptures or murals by young or established artists.

The art had to be realistic and had to reflect the town it would be in, which is why so many of the murals in Western Pennsylvania depict the coal, steel and glass industries.

About 10% of the murals have been lost, including beautiful ones in Aliquippa and Bridgeville, but Lembeck says the exhibition should have a list of locations in the area where the original art can be seen.

There are currently exhibits of Depression Era art at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg.

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