Rincon Annex WPA Mural
Located near the Embarcadero at 101 Spear Street near Mission, the Rincon Annex Post Office was the last great WPA project. The original theme was to be a cycle of twenty-four murals showing San Francisco's history. Anton Refreigier, a Russian immigrant from Woodstock, New York, won the competition. He came to San Francisco and quickly familiarized himself with the history of the city. The Second World War broke out during the course of the project, and production was stopped on the mural, only to be completed after the war. The initial concept was to end the cycle with 1939 World's Fair on Treasure Island, but given recent events, Refreiger decided to extend the series to twenty-nine panels. He ended the project with the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge, the war, and finally with the creation of the United Nations in San Francisco.
The Rincon Annex murals are unusual for a public historical depiction. Instead of a procession of gloried triumphs, it represents a series of conflicts, including assaults on Chinese railroad laborers and the Pacific Maritime and General Strikes. The cycle ends somewhat hopefully with the formation of the United Nations, suggesting that the creation of this institution marked the end of these conflicts.
The Right attacked the cycle fiercely even as it was being completed. Refreigier was threatened by gangs, which began to harass him as he worked. Fearing for his safety, the artist refrained from working after sunset. In the early 50s, the mural went on trial before a congressional subcommittee to determine if the piece was communist. San Franciscans, including curators from all the major museums in the city defended the mural, and in the end, the trial, led in part by a young and ambitious Richard Nixon, did not succeed.
Where: 101 Spear Street , San Francisco, CA, 94105, USA
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