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Labor Fest Coit Tower WPA Mural Presentation

by Charles Slay (slaycslay [at]
To honor the seventy-fifth anniversery of the construction of San Francisco's Coit tower, Labor Fest sponsered a tour and lecture on the murals within painted under the New Deal's Public Works Art Program (PWAP). The tour was conducted by San Francisco State University Art Professor Mark Johnson on Sunday July 6, 2008.
Coit tower, atop San Francisco's Telegraph Hill, was constructed in 1934 with funds bequeathed to the city by Lillie Hitchcock Coit
Artists in the 1930s sucessfuly petitioned the Roosevelt administration to create a public works program for the arts. Twenty-six artists , under the direction of Victor Arnautoff, were chosen to paint murals on the interior of the structure with funding by the newly created Public works Art Program. The murals were inspired by the monumental works of Diego Rivera and many were executed in fresco - wet lime plaster -technique. The major themes of the mural project are labor and life California. Controversy soon surrounded the project as news of the content leaked out. Before completetion, the S.F. Examminer revealed that Artist Clifford Wight had depicted a "Hammer and Sickle." This set the tone for what would follow, the contorversy intensified and even continues to this day. More information can be found in Masha Zakheim Jewett'S " Coit Tower, San Francisco, Its History and Art." Volcano Press. The first photo is a detail of Victor Arnautoff's "City Life."
§The tour group
by Charles Slay
About thirty people attended the tour, Professor Johnson-center- provided a detailed lecture
§Left panel of Maxine Albro's fresco
by Charles Slay
The orange crates contain National Recovery Act labels, even that drew suspicion.
§City Life
by Charles Slay
The right panel of victor Arnautoff's Fresco.
Arnautoff learned his fresco tecnique in Mexico as an assistant to Diego Rivera.
§Detail of City Life
by Charles Slay
The news stand that caused so much turmoil, socialist papers and magazines are shown, but, not the S.F. Chronicle.
§Industries oF California, By Ralph Stackpole
by Charles Slay
Stackpole was primarily a sculptor who learned fresco for this project.
§California Industrial Scenes By John Langley Howard
by Charles Slay
Workers panning for gold below a dam they probably built.
§Bernard Zakheim's Library
by Charles Slay
This painting also caused trouble, note the volume of Karl Marx
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