Murals in San Fransisco
The tourist information office was moved from the border of Tenderloin to the area of Mission where the SFMOMA, Museum of Modern Art is situated. The first time we were visiting San Fransisco, we had a tendency to walk right to Tenderloin each time we were trying to go anywhere. It’s an area where you don’t go after sunset. The name comes from a time in history where criminality was so high, that the policemen were paid extra to volunteer to work there. They were then able to buy tenderloin from their salary.
I like to get the newest brochures, walks and tours in a big city from a real tourist information centre, so we succeeded to find the new place. The lady volunteering there was happy to see us as soon as they had opened and spoke non stop about all the possibilities we could explore in San Francisco. Everything she mentioned was added to a map she gave us. I was overwhelmed and forgot to look for the brochures that I came for.
We understood that “Murals” were something unique and worth seeing. Without the guidance of the volunteer, we would never have found the Rincon Annex Post Office near the end of Mission Street at the harbour area of Embarcadero.
An excerpt from a linked home page mentioned above:
The Work Projects Administration (WPA) was the source of countless classic works of American art, but their largest painted commission, the series of murals at what is now Rincon Center, was almost instantly reviled for its realist, some say, the communist, portrayal of California’s past.
The murals were the work of Russian-born artist Anton Refregier who won a competition to paint the works in the newly built Rincon Annex Post Office. From a period between 1941-1948, interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, Refregier created 27 murals on the walls of the post office’s main hall.
I didn’t take a photo of all the murals, but I put those that I have in chronological order.
For more on the WPA, my husband Henry wrote about WPA in a post about Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.
I found the old postal building very beautiful, and some of the decorations inside the building reminded me of the Art Deco style. It is built in the Streamline Modern Art Deco Style from the 1930s.
Having grown up during the Cold War in Europe and read about the atrocities done to people in the name of Marxism make me no fan of any of these -isms. Nevertheless, the decorations are from a time where people didn’t know how evil Socialism could be, and they longed for a more just world. To me, the people described have a cold atmosphere around them. I liked the one with the artists. Among them Scottish Robert L. Stevenson
Another place for murals was the Art Institute at Chestnut Street between Russian Hill and North Beach, not far from the famous Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. Those Murals were made by Diego Rivera who at his time was more famous than his wife, Frida Kahlo. They didn’t appeal very much to me, but I like the area very much. It seems more open with a lot of houses from before the great earthquake and fire in 1906 and lighter than downtown San Fransisco.