SANTA FE, N.M. — If you’ve ever noticed the mural on the west wall of the Main Post Office downtown, the colors, blocking and style – the sense of majesty and optimistic spirit of America – are in the genre of New Deal Art.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” government had a jobs program called the WPA, Works Progress Administration, that put unemployed Americans to work. One of the programs was devoted to artists decorating public spaces, primarily libraries, post offices and courthouses. It is a particular style conveying the ingenuity, pride, determination and grandeur of America.
Many artists emeriti of this country participated: Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, Marsden Hartley, Grant Wood and Ben Shahn to name a few. Surprised? I sure was! One can visualize Marsden, Grant and even Ben fitting in fine, and I can even imagine that Rothko could practice his shading technique, but I wonder where one would find Jackson Pollock in WPA art?