San Francisco’s George Washington High School, designed by local Art Deco master Timothy Pflueger in the mid 1930s, is an extraordinary example of major works of art commissioned with funds from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. The 13 frescoes in the lobby, an unflinching depiction of the mixed legacy of George Washington, painted by Russian emigre artist Victor Arnautoff, represent one of the largest extant installations of social realist art of the 1930s. Other well-known San Francisco artists of the 1930s are also represented in other murals and sculpted reliefs elsewhere at the school, including Ralph Stackpole, Lucien Labaudt, and Sargent Johnson. The art and the artists were not without controversy in their time, and are still generating controversy today.
Robert W. Cherny, professor emeritus of history at San Francisco State University, and biographer of Arnautoff, will give a brief talk on Arnautoff, the politics of the era, and the art work at the school, followed by a panel discussion on the current controversy over the murals in the lobby. Panelists will include Gray Brechin, author, geographer and founder of the Living New Deal Project; Harvey Smith, President of the National New Deal Preservation Association and project advisor at the Living New Deal; and Lope Yap, Jr., a filmmaker and special effects producer, who is also a vice president of the George Washington Alumni Association.
3pm cocktails, 4pm lecture followed by panel discussion
Admission: $10 members, $20 non-members
Vintage attire admired but not required.