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Michigan New Deal Art

Artists in Michigan:

  • Henry Bernstein: The son of Henry Bernstein, WPA artist, has written a detailed and revealing biography of his father, describing the artist from a very personal and insightful viewpoint.
  • Samuel Cashwan: He was a sculptor, taught at the University of Michigan during the Depression, and was supervisor of sculpture for the Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project in Michigan.
  • Francis E. Danovich: University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor
  • Carlos Lopez<: “Carlos Lopez: A Forgotten Michigan Painter by George Vargas, Ph.D. Austin, Texas Occasional Paper No. 56, February 1999, Julian Samora Research Institute, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI).



Ann Arbor
At the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor – “Legend of Paul Bunyan” (original title) in the Children’s Waiting Room, by Francis E. Danovich (WPA) in 1939. (link contributed by Shannon O’Dell, Curator, Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, UM)

Clare Middle SchoolClare, MI
Home to a series of 4 murals by Gerald Mast and an 8′ sculpture by Samuel Cashwan at the Clare Middle School. The Mast murals have been restored and will be re-dedicated in a special ceremony on Saturday, September 4, 2004.

Detroit, MI – Home to the Walter Speck (head of the Detroit FAP) mural sponsored by the West Side Local 174, UAW. Read Jim Burton’s article “Saving a Piece of Labor History,” and see this beautiful piece of labor art.

316 Garfield Building, Detroit: There is a photo of the 13 foot Lincoln Memorial statue made of limestone, funded by the Federal Art Project and sponsored by the Lincoln Consolidated Training School, Ypsilanti, Michigan. The photo shows the artists from this project – Samuel Cashwan, Nelva Browning, Margaret Ann Lau, &Dorris Garrod.

The Brodhead Armory on Jefferson Avenue just past the Belle Isle Bridge in Detroit, MI houses several examples of great WPA art. David Fredenthal created the three murals in the Ward Room (unfortunately suffering from severe water damage). Gustave Hildebrand in 1941 created the fantasy wood carvings, displaying mermaids, seahorses, fish, and flowing water plants.

Grosse Point High School near Detroit houses several WPA murals.

The Detroit Public Library has a mural by Marvin Beerbohm (1908 Canada–1981 USA) funded by the WPA, entitled “Automative Industry.”

Lansing, MI

Exterior sculpture on the Lansing Water Conditioning Plant in Lansing MI

On the Kresge Art Museum walking tour page is a photo of “Aquarius,” by Samuel Cashwan done in 1938/39. This 32-foot statue stands above the Cedar Street entrance. The Kresge Art Museum currently has an exciting virtual on-line walking tour entitled: New Deal Art and Architecture in East Lansing and Lansing, Michigan.

Michigan State University In front of the Music Building, is a cast-concrete sculpture by Samuel Cashwan depicting a group of musicians. It includes a bass player, a drummer, and a saxophonist.

Located in front of the Kellogg-Dental School on the North University campus at the University of Michigan is a marble-like (probably limestone) sculpture entitled “Willoughby D. Miller”, a memorial of Dr. Miller (class of 1875) that was done by Samuel Adolph Cashwan in 1940 with partial WPA funding.

Royal Oaks - in the auditorium of the Royal Oaks (Dondero) High School are three fabulous WPA murals that are in the process of being restored.

Ypsilanti The Lincoln Consolidated School murals



Post Office New Deal Artwork – Most of the Post Office works of art were funded through commissions under the Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture (later known as The Section of Fine Arts) and not the WPA.

“Often mistaken for WPA art, post office murals were actually executed by artists working for the Section of Fine Arts. Commonly known as “the Section,” it was established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department. Headed by Edward Bruce, a former lawyer, businessman, and artist, the Section’s main function was to select art of high quality to decorate public buildings if the funding was available. By providing decoration in public buildings, the art was made accessible to all people.” from “Articles from EnRoute : Off The Wall: New Deal Post Office Murals” by Patricia Raynor

New Deal/WPA Art in Michigan – Unless indicated, works of art are located in the US Post Office building.

Location Artist Title Date Medium
Alma Joe H. Cox “Harvest” 1940 oil on canvas
Belding Marvin Beerbohm “Belding Brothers and Their Silk Industry” 1943 oil on canvas
Birmingham Carlos Lopez “The Pioneering Society’s Picnic” 1942 tempera
Blissfield Jean Paul Slusser “Laying the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad” 1939 mural
Bronson Arthur Getz farm family with produce (subject) 1941 oil on canvas
Buchanan Gertrude Goodrich “Production” 1941 tempera (painted over but in the process of restoration)
Calumet Joe Lasker “Copper Mining in Calumet” 1941 mural
Caro David Fredenthal “Mail on the Farm” 1941 tempera
Chelsea* George Fisher “The Way of Life” 1938 mural
Clare Allan Thomas “The Mail Arrives in Clare – 1871″ 1937 oil on canvas
Crystal Falls Allan Thomas “Extending the Frontier in Northwest Territory” 1938 oil on canvas
Dearborn (now in the Henry Ford Community College Library) Rainey Bennett “Ten Eyck’s Tavern on Chicago Road” 1938 oil on canvas
Hamtramck Branch
Schomer Lichtner “City Workers,” “Farm Family,” and “Products of Industry and Agriculture” 1940 tempera
Highland Park Branch
Erwin Springweiler “American Eagle” 1940 stone
Lincoln Park Branch
Zoltan Sepeshy “Great Lakes Fishermen” 1940 (missing)
Northwestern Branch Postal Station
(now in Wayne State Student Union Building)
William Gropper “Automobile Industry” 1941 mural
East Detroit Frank Cassara “Early Settlers” 1940 tempera
East Lansing (now in the Michigan State Library, first floor) Henry Bernstein “America’s First Agriculture College” 1938 mural
Eaton Rapids Boris Mestchersky “Industry and Agriculture” 1939 oil on canvas
Fenton Jerome Snyder, Grace Goodrich (assistant) “Change of Shift” 1942 tempera
Frankfort Henry Bernstein “On Board the Carferry (Ann Arbor #4, February 14, 1923)” 1941 tempera
Fremont Lumen Martin Winter “Pony Express” 1938 mural
Grand Ledge James Calder “Waiting for the Mail” 1938 mural
Grayling Robert L. Lepper “The Lumber Camp” 1939 oil on canvas
Greenville Charles W. Thwaites “Lumbering” 1940 tempera
Hart Ruth Grotenrath “Boy Rounding Up the Stock” 1941 oil on canvas
Howell Jaroslav Brozik “Rural Delivery” 1941 mural
Iron Mountain Vladimir Rousseff historical treatment of mail transportation in the West (subject) – five panels 1935-36 mural (funded by Section and TRAP)
Iron River Milton Horn “Paul Bunyan Straightening Out the Round River” 1941 wood relief
Lowell Alfred Sessler “Lumbering in Early Lowell” 1941 tempera
Manistique David Fredenthal “Logging” 1941 oil on canvas
Marquette Dewey Albinson “Marquette Exploring Shores of Lake Superior” 1938 oil on canvas
Mason Marion Overby “Early Postman” 1939 terra-cotta
Midland Henry Bernstein “Chemistry” 1942 tempera
(now in the Monroe County Community College)
Ralph Hendricksen “Romance of Monroe” 1938 mural
Munising Hugo Robus “Chippewa Legend” 1939 plaster
Paw Paw Carlos Lopez “Bounty” 1940 tempera
Plymouth Carlos Lopez “Plymouth Trail” 1938 mural
River Rouge Marshall M. Fredericks “The Horseless Buggy,” “Train,” “Ship,” and “Air” 1939 stone, facade
Rochester Alexander Sambugnac “Communication” 1937 cast stone
Rockford Pierre Bourdelle “Among the Furrows” 1940 encaustic
Rogers City James Calder “Harbor at Rogers City” 1941 oil on canvas
Saint Clair James Calder “St. Clair river” 1939 oil on canvas
Sandusky Frank Cassara “Cattle Auctions” 1942 oil and tempera
Traverse City Marion Overby “The Cherry Picker” 1941 wood relief
Wayne Algot Stenbery “Landscape near Wayne – 1876″ 1939 mural

All mural images depicted on this site are used with permission of the United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.