Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Vanquished Race

4201 Fountain Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Djey El Djey, whose real name was Djey Owens, sculpted the Native American in “The Vanquished Race” after it was commissioned in 1936. Djey also worked on the “Astronomers Monument” at Griffith Observatory. Those two projects where the largest projects he worked on in the WPA. “The Vanquished Race” is at the Thomas Starr King Middle School. The figure is six feet tall and is cast from concrete. Djey completed this project in 1938 and in 2000 the school was given ten thousand dollars in order to protect the sculpture. The Los Angeles Unified School District owns the sculpture.

San Fernando Post Office

308 South Maclay Ave.
San Fernando, CA 91340

The San Fernando Post Office was completed in 1934; the architect was also Louis A. Simon. This post office was built in the Mission-revival style. There is a seven-paneled wood relief that was made by Gordon Newell and Sherry Peticolas. It depicts how the mail is moved, via ship, train, plane, truck and even horseback. The artists also did the “Horseman” relief that is in the Hollywood Post Office. Gordon Newell also sculpted one of the astronomers that is on the “Astronomers Monument” at the Griffith Park Observatory.

Canoga Park Post Office

21801 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303

Canoga Park Post Office was completed in 1938. The architect for the project was Louis A. Simon who also did the San Pedro Federal Building. Even though this is a small post office that was at the time, on the outskirts of the city is one of the most import post offices in the area. The mural, “Palomino Ponies,” inside was painted in 1942 by Maynard Dixon, one of the most well known painters of the American West. At age sixty-six this would be his last public mural project. Many of Dixon’s paintings are in prestigious art museums around the country including the De Young Museum, Brooklyn Museum, The Oakland Museum and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. During the depression Dixon began painting hobos and migrant workers.

George Washington Middle School

1450 Cedar Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90813

The George Washington Middle School in Long Beach was another building designed by architect John Comeley Wilson Austin. The buildings are a combination of Art-Deco and Moderne styles. It combines low relief artwork with vertical streamline details. The low relief sculpture can be seen around some the entrances at the front of the school. In the main lobby there are well preserved Philippine mahogany walls, and beautiful brass railings. The ceiling tiles are carved with alternating floral designs from a material called Kanec.

Although this school was not built as a PWA project but the PWA did work on this school to refurbish it after the 1933 earthquake. There is not much information on exactly what was done to the building after the earthquake affected it.

Cabrillo Statue

San Pedro Breakwater
Los Angeles, CA 90731

The statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was sculpted by Henry Lion in 1936 was cast in concrete. Henry Lion designed the doors to Los Angeles City Hall, he also did the eagles that are found on the exterior of the Los Angeles Federal Building. Lion also did a bronze sculpture called the “Pioneer Fountain” in Carthay Circle and “The Power of Water” in Lafayette Park which was also art project.

* approximate times

San Pedro High School

1001 W. 15th St.
San Pedro, CA 90731

Two buildings at San Pedro High School, the Administration building and the Language Arts building were both built by the WPA in 1936. There is no evidence that the flagpole in front of the Administration building are WPA, however the art themes of academics, industrial art, home economics and athletics is meant to highlight themes supported by the government.

In the San Pedro High School Library the murals called “Industrial Life in San Pedro” were painted by Thomas Tyrone Comfort in 1937. The murals are oil on canvas. It consists of nine panels, four are 4x8 feet and five are 10x8 feet. He was an FAP, Federal Arts Project muralist and illustrator. Very few examples of his work exist because he died at the age of thirty in 1939. However some of his work resides in the White House.

Mural photographs from San Pedro High School Photo Gallery

San Pedro Federal Building and Post Office

839 S. Beacon St
San Pedro, CA 90731

The San Pedro Federal Building and Post Office was built between 1935-1938. The architect was Louis A. Simon who also designed the Canoga Park Post Office and the Whittier Post Office. He was the supervising architect of the Treasury Department from 1933 to 1939. The building was built in the simplified Art-Deco style that was common in the 1930s. The basket weave pattern in the floor tile gives the impression that a rug is laying on a black marble floor.

The mural “Mail Transportation” was painted by Fletcher Martin. Martin was a self-taught artist, and he won the commission to paint the murals among seventy-seven artists. By the age of twelve he was working as a printer. He dropped out of high school and held odd jobs like lumberjack and professional boxer. He served in the Navy in the early 20s until finally ending up in Los Angeles teaching at art schools such Otis Art Institute.

“Mail Transportation” is an oil an canvas that shows how mail is transported no matter the conditions, whether it is in the frozen arctic or hot desert the mail gets where it needs to go. It also shows some of the harbor's heritage. The mural was restored by Jose-Luis Gonzalez from Goez Studio.