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WPA Art in South Dakota

Post Office Artwork in South Dakota – 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

Unless indicated, works of art are located in the US Post Office building.

Location Artist Title Date Medium
Post Office and Courthouse
Laci de Gerenday “The Building of Grand Crossing” 1940 walnut relief
Beresford David McCosh “Spirit of Beresford” 1942 oil on canvas
Flandreau Matthew E. Ziegler “Wheat in the Shock” 1940 oil on canvas
Mobridge Elof Wedin “Return from the Fields” 1938 oil on canvas
Spearfish Marion Overby “Fish Story” 1943 three wood reliefs
Sturgis J. K. Ralston “The Fate of a Mail Carrier – Charlie Nolin – 1876″ 1939 oil on canvas
Webster Irvin Shope “The First White Man in South Dakota” 1939 oil on canvas


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

Apparently the dome mural in the Oscar Howe Art Center at 119 W Third Ave, Mitchell SD 57301 was funded by the WPA. It was completed in 1940 by Oscar Howe, a Sioux artist, and is still open to the public.

Oscar Howe page - St. Joseph’s Indian School

Oscar-Howe Murals Located in the City Auditorium (Scherr-Howe Arena) on Main Street, Mobridge , SD 57601

WPA Pottery Project at The Pine Ridge Indian reservation, South Dakota: from a talk published by Peter Flaherty, the Wisconsin Pottery Association:

“There is no tradition of pottery amongst the Lakota Sioux Indians of the Great Plains….Thus Pine Ridge Pottery might be considered a white man’s medium decorated by Native Americans…..The WPA project brought white instructors to the reservation boarding school, to provide pottery for home use and to help the Indians sustain themselves as craftspeople….The years 1937-1940 are considered to have been the most productive at the Pine Ridge high school pottery….Pottery supported the other craft programs during this period, earning $40,000 for the school….However, sometime during the 1940s the production of Pine Ridge pottery at the high school ended.”