The Coalition To Protect Public Art
* SF Chronicle, February 23, 2020: Native American Elders Call On SF School Board To Keep Mural On View *
* SF Chronicle, July 16, 2019: Mural supporters plan 2020 ballot measure to protect frescos at Washington High *
Artnet News, July 10, 2019: "This Artist Painted the Black Radical Response to the George Washington Slaveholder Murals. Here’s Why He Stands Against Destroying Them"
There are 13 major New Deal murals in the lobby of George Washington High School in San Francisco. Painted in 1936 by Coit Tower muralist Victor Arnautoff, a former assistant of Diego Rivera, these murals were part of a publicly-funded Works Progress Administration (WPA) mural project called “Life and Era of George Washington.”
On June 25, 2019, the San Francisco School Board voted to spend $600,000 to destroy all 13 of these murals. After an international outcry and outpouring of public opposition, on August 13, 2019, the School Board voted instead to spend $825,000 to permanently board over and cover all of these murals with solid panels to hide them from view.
In February 2020, the entire GWHS campus was nationally recognized by the National Park Service “Historic American Building Survey." It is the only public school in San Francisco with such a distinction.
The COALITION TO PROTECT PUBLIC ART is organizing to protect this valuable public art from being destroyed or permanently blocked from public view. We are taking a number of actions. We support a plan to identify and undertake a wide range of alternative options to increase education, provide mural context for viewers, create more art, and provide students and others a choice to decide for themselves whether or not to view art instead of the government destroying the murals or permanently preventing anyone from ever seeing them. If the School Board continues to ignore these nationally recognized plans, our coalition is ready to qualify an initiative and pass a ballot measure titled the “Protect Public Access to Public Art Initiative."
We need your help to protect this important public art before it's too late - please donate, sign up, and join us now.