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New Deal WPA Art in Texas

Post Office Artwork in Texas It was called the “people’s art.” Designed to inspire and encourage a nation overwhelmed by the problems of the Great Depression of 1934–43, the murals program of the federal government put needy artists to work and offered a vision of hope to communities struggling with acute economic and social hardships.

In Texas, more than 65 post offices were decorated with nearly 100 individual murals featuring scenes of local interest, history, folklore and industry. Most of these colorful portraits of Texas as it was — and how people dreamed of it — survive today, and Texas travelers are invited to visit them.

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
Alice Warren Hunter “South Texas Panorama” 1939 mural
Alpine Jose Moya del Pino “View of Alpine” 1940 oil on masonite
Alvin Loren Mozley “Emigrants at Nightfall” 1940 oil on canvas
Amarillo Julius Woeltz “Cattle Loading” 1941 oil on canvas
Amarillo Julius Woeltz “Oil” 1941 oil on canvas
Amarillo Julius Woeltz “Cattle Branding” 1941 oil on canvas
Amarillo Julius Woeltz “Gang Plow & Disk Harrow” 1941 oil on canvas
Amarillo Julius Woeltz “Coronado’s Exploration Party in the Palo Duro Canyon” 1941 oil on canvas
Anson Jenne Magafan “Cowboy Dance” 1941 oil on canvas
Arlington (building now used as the Worthington National Bank) Otis Dozier “Gathering Pecans” 1941 oil on canvas
Big Spring
(note: the mural is in the original USPO building which became the county library, is newly-remodelled and called the U.S. District Court Building, located across the street west of the County Courthouse
(update courtesy of Doyle Phillips)
Peter Hurd “Old Pioneers” 1938 fresco
Borger
(now at the Hutchinson County Museum)
Jose Aceves “Big City News” 1939 oil on canvas
Brady Gordon Grant “Texas Immigrant” 1939 oil on canvas
Brownfield Police Headquarters Frank Mechau “Ranchers of the Panhandle Fighting Prairie Fire with Skinned Steer” 1940 oil on canvas
Caldwell (moved to College Station USPO) Suzanne Scheuer “Indians Moving” 1939 oil on canvas
Canyon
at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum*
Ben Mead “Coronado’s Coming” 1934 oil on canvas
(funded by the PWAP)
Canyon
at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum*
Harold Bugbee “The Cattleman” 1934 oil on canvas
(funded by the PWAP)
Canyon
at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum*
Gustaf Sunstrom (prehistoric mammals that lived on the Panhandle-Plains) 1934 oil on Masonite, (7 panels, 36″x 48″ each)
Canyon
at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum*
Ben Mead “Antelope Creek” 1940 oil on canvas
Canyon
at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum*
Harold Bugbee “Ranch Headquarters” 1940 oil on canvas
Canyon Francis Ankrom “Strays” 1938 oil on canvas
Center Edward Chavez “Logging Scene” 1941 oil on canvas
Clifton Ila McAffe “Texas Longhorn – A Vanishing Breed” 1941 oil on canvas
College Station (missing) Victor Arnautoff “Good Technique – Good Harvest” 1938 oil on canvas
Conroe (missing) Nicholas Lyon “Early Texans” 1938 oil on canvas
Cooper Lloyd Goff “Before the Fencing of Delta County” 1939 oil on canvas
Corpus Christi Howard Cook “The Sea: Port Activities and Harbor Fisheries” 1941 oil on canvas
Dallas at the Terminal Annex Building Peter Hurd “Eastbound Mail Stage” 1940 mural
Dallas at the Terminal Annex Building Peter Hurd “Pioneer Home Builders” 1940 mural
Dallas at the Terminal Annex Building Peter Hurd “Airmail Over Texas” 1940 mural
Decatur Ray Strong “Texas Plains” 1939 oil on canvas
Eastland Suzanne Scheuer “Indian Buffalo Hunt” 1939 oil on canvas
Edinburg
(painted over)
Ward Lockwood “Harvest of the Rio Grande Valley” 1940 oil and tempera on canvas
El Campo Milford Zornes “Rural Texas Gulf Coast” 1939 oil on canvas
Electra Allie Tennant “Oil, Cattle, Wheat” 1940 plaster relief
Elgin Julius Woeltz “Texas Farm” 1940 oil on canvas
El Paso Federal Courthouse Tom Lea “Pass of the North” 1938 oil on canvas
Farmersville Jerry Bywaters “Soil Conservation in Collin County” 1941 oil on canvas
Fort Worth Frank Mechau “Taking of Sam Bass” 1940 oil on canvas
Fort Worth Frank Mechau “Two Texas Rangers” 1940 oil on canvas
Fort Worth Frank Mechau “Flags Over Texas” 1940 oil on canvas
Fredericksburg Otis Dozier “Loading Cattle” date unknown oil on canvas
Gatesville Joe DeYong “Off to Northern Markets” 1939 oil on canvas
Giddings Otis Dozier “Cowboys Receiving the Mail” 1939 oil on canvas
Goose Creek(formerly Dayton) Barse Miller “Texas 1938 tempera
Graham Alexandre Hogue “Oil Fields of Graham” 1939 oil on canvas
Hamilton Ward Lockwood “Texas Rangers in Camp” date unknown fresco secco
Henderson(destroyed) Paul Ninas “Local Industries 1937 fresco
Hereford Enid Bell “On the Range” 1941 wood relief
Houston
(515 Rusk)
Jerry Bywaters “The Houston Ship Canal” 1941 mural
Houston at the Federal Courthouse Alexandre Hogue “Houston Ship Channel – Early History” 1941 mural
Houston at the Federal Courthouse William McVey “Travis’ Letter from the Alamo 1941 tymstone sculpture
Houston at the Federal Courthouse William McVey “Sam Houston’s Report on the Battle of San Jacinto 1941 tymstone sculpture
Jasper (moved to new USPO at 217 N. Bowie) Alexander Levin “Industries of Jasper” 1939 oil on canvas
Kaufman
(covered over)
Margaret A. Dobson “Driving the Steers 1939 fresco
Kenedy Charles Campbell “Grist for the Mill” 1939 oil on canvas
Kilgore Xavier Gonzalez “Drilling for Oil” 1941 oil on canvas
Kilgore Xavier Gonzalez “Pioneer Saga” 1941 oil on canvas
Kilgore Xavier Gonzalez “Music of the Plaines” 1941 oil on canvas
Kilgore Xavier Gonzalez “Contemporary Youth” 1941 oil on canvas
LaGrange Tom Lewis “Horses” 1939 oil on canvas
Lamesa Fletcher Martin “The Horse Breakers” 1940 oil on canvas
Lampasas Ethel Edwards “Afternoon on a Texas Ranch” 1939 oil on canvas
Liberty Howard Fisher “Story of the Big Fish” 1939 oil on canvas
Linden Victor Arnautoff “The Last Crop” (incorrectly called “Cotton Pickers” until recently) 1939 oil on canvas
Littlefield William McVey “West Texas” 1948 tymstone sculpture
Livingston Police Department T. Van Soelen “Landscape Mural” 1941 oil on canvas
Livingston Police Department T. Van Soelen “Buffalo Hunting” 1941 oil on canvas
Lockhart John Walker “The Pony Express Station” 1939 oil on canvas
Longview Thomas Stell “Texas Farm Scene” date unknown oil on canvas
Mart Jose Aceves “McLennan Looking for a Home” 1939 oil on canvas
McKinney at the Collin County Historical Society Frank Klepper “Confederate Company Leaving McKinney” 1934 unknown
Mineola articlepdf Bernard Zakheim “New and Old Methods of Transportation” 1938 oil on canvas
Mission Xavier Gonzalez “West Texas Landscape” date unknown oil on canvas
Odessa Tom Lea “Stampede” 1940 oil on canvas
Quanah Jerry Bywaters “The Naming of Quanah” 1938 oil on canvas
Paris
(currently in the Paris Public Library)
Jerry Bywaters “John Chisum, Davy Crockett” 1934 oil on panel**
Paris
(currently in the Paris Public Library)
Jerry Bywaters “Paris Fire of 1916, Rebuilding” 1934 oil on panel**
Ranger Emil Bisttram “The Crossroads Town” 1939 oil on canvas
Robstown Alice Reynolds “Founding and Subsequent Development of Robstown, Texas” 1941 mural
Rockdale Maxwell Starr “Industry in Rockdale” date unknown oil on canvas
Rosenberg (destroyed) William Dean Fausett “La Salle’s Last Expedition” 1941 mural
Rusk Bernard Zakheim “Agriculture and Industry” 1940 tempera
San Antonio at the Federal Courthouse Howard Cook “San Antonio’s Importance in Texas History” 1939 fresco
San Antonio at the Brady-Green Clinic G.F. Newmann “Autumn and Spring in the Hill Country” 1934 unknown
San Antonio at the Public Library Mary Bonner Title Unknown 1934 unknown
Seymour Tom Lea “Comanches” 1942 oil on canvas
Sherman at the Sherman Historical Museum James Swann “Music, Literature, and Painting” 1934 unknown
Smithville Minette Teichmueller “The Law – Texas Rangers” 1940 oil on canvas
Teague Thomas Stell, Jr. “Cattle Roundup” 1940 oil on canvas
Trinity Jerry Bywaters “Lumber Manufacturing” 1942 oil on canvas
Waco E. Shonnard “Cattle, Indians” 1939 wood reliefs
Wellington Bernard Arnest “Settlers in Collinsworth County” 1940 tempera

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

*The information about these works was provided by Michael R. Grauer, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas

**This information is courtesy of the Paris Public Library: The four original panels are still in the Paris Publis Library on display in foyer/lobby along with another Bywaters work entitled “In the Library” that was given to the library by the Bywaters family. The panels have always been in the library, arriving in the fall of 1934. While they were part of the Post Office Section program Mr. Bywaters convinced the powers that be to give them to the library instead.

The above information was extracted from the THC publication (please note that additions from Democratic Vistas: Post Offices & Public Art in the New Deal by M. Park & G. Markowitz are in italics and were not part of the THC photo exhibition of post office murals).

Another source for information about the Texas Post Office murals is The Texas Post Office Murals: Art for the People by Philip Parisi (Texas A & M University Press, College Station, 2004).

 


 

Towns in which the murals are lost, painted-over, missing, removed, or destroyed: Austin, Baytown, Bryan, Childress, College Station, Commerce, Conroe, Corsicana, Dallas, Denison, Denton, El Paso, Fort Worth, Henderson, Houston, Kaufman, Lubbock, Marshall, Mineola, Rosenberg, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls.