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The Texas Post Office Murals: Art for the People

Overview


Walk into any of sixty post offices or federal buildings in the state of Texas and you may be greeted by a surprising sight: magnificent mural art on the lobby walls.

In the midst of the Great Depression, a program was born that would not only give work to artists but also create beauty and optimism for a people worn down by hardship and discouragement. This New Deal program commissioned artists to create post office murals—the people’s art—to celebrate the lives, history, ...

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Overview


Walk into any of sixty post offices or federal buildings in the state of Texas and you may be greeted by a surprising sight: magnificent mural art on the lobby walls.

In the midst of the Great Depression, a program was born that would not only give work to artists but also create beauty and optimism for a people worn down by hardship and discouragement. This New Deal program commissioned artists to create post office murals—the people’s art—to celebrate the lives, history, hopes, and dreams of ordinary Americans. In Texas alone, artists painted ninety-seven artworks for sixty-nine post offices and federal buildings around the state. Painted by some of the best-known artists of the day, these murals sparkled with scenes of Texas history, folklore, heroes, common people, wildlife, and landscapes.

Murals were created from San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas to Big Spring, Baytown, and Hamilton. The artists included Tom Lea, Jerry Bywaters, Peter Hurd, Otis Dozier, Alexandre Hogue, and Xavier Gonzalez. The images showed people at work and featured industries specific to the region, often coupled with symbols of progress such as machinery and modern transportation. Murals depicted cowboys and stampedes, folk heroes from Sam Bass to Davy Crockett, revered Indian chief Quanah Parker, and community symbols such as Eastland’s lizard mascot, Ol’ Rip.

In this beautiful volume Philip Parisi has gathered 115 photographs of these stunning and historic works of art—36 in full color. He tells the story of how they came to be, how the communities influenced and accepted them, and what efforts have been made to restore and preserve them.

Enjoy this beautiful book in the comfort of your living room, or take it with you on the road as a guide to the people’s art in the Lone Star State.

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Editorial Reviews

Clyde A. Milner II

“The themes, images, and artists of the Texas Post Office murals now have a masterful reference work thanks to Philip Parisi. This great public art came out of the Great Depression. Some are lost; others, destroyed. But Parisi accounts for all of them and tells numerous fascinating stories about their creation.”--Clyde A. Milner II, Director, Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program, Arkansas State University
Bloomsbury Review
Anyone who has ever questioned the public patronage of the visual arts should be given a copy of this wonderful book.
Great Plains Quarterly
"Beautifully designed and printed, mostly in vivid color, Parisi’s book becomes both a superb tourist’s guide to 1930s art in Texas and a primary research document for students of American art and culture."
Department of Art History and American Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Western Historical Quarterly
"It is this combination of careful attention to detail, Parisi's accessible writing style, and the well-produced illustrations that make this book so desirable, not only for scholar, but also for those who may have interest in this period, or particular interest in the mural arts."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585442317
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Series: Joe and Betty Moore Texas Art Series , #14
  • Pages: 200
  • Sales rank: 1,388,209
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Philip Parisi, who now lives in Logan, Utah, and is a freelance writer and visiting assistant editor of the Western Historical Quarterly, began work on this manuscript while on the staff of the Texas Historical Commission. He directed a project that involved assembling a collection of slides of the extant murals and tracing the history of this WPA project.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2004

    ART AND HISTORY COMBINED

    You know the old saying, 'One Man's Meat Is Another Man's Poison.' Well, one man's art, in the case of surrealism, abstractionism, and a number of other forms, may be another man's anathema. However, it's a good bet to say that this collection of post office murals found in Texas holds every man's art. These murals began during FDR's New Deal program that mandated a public relief program to provide jobs for unemployed artists. These artists were hired to create and paint murals in federal buildings throughout our country. This mandate was two fold - to provide the artist's with an income and to provide Depression weary Americans with objects offering hope and inspiration. In this collection by Philip Parisi one finds 100 full-color paintings discovered in 69 Texas post offices. Subjects of the paintings are varied, ranging from Sam Houston to Quanah Parker, from cowboys to Longhorns, from pioneers to industry. Artist represented included such well known names as Tom Lea, Jerry Bywaters and Alexandre Hogue. More than works of art these murals represent our history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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