WPA Post Office
Art in Texas
To: Fredericka Massey

From: Maria Mutmansky

Dear Prof. Massey,

I greatly enjoyed your write up on the book, The Texas Post Office Murals and thought you might be interested in the following articles:

Exhibit features photos of Pa. post office murals by Amy Worden


and Postal Service and museum in dispute over photos


Do you have any advice, comments and/or contacts that might be able to help the cause of the researcher David Lembeck and photographer Michael Mutmansky in their pursuit to document the Pennsylvania Post Office murals?

Sincere appreciation for any advice!

--- Maria Mutmansky

§     §     §

Hi, Maria:

And thanks for your note.

Please understand that I am but part of an army of reviewers who (1) Know nothing about the subject of the book they are reviewing, and, thus,(2) Draw all their information from the book they are reviewing.

Before reading this book, my knowledge of the WPA, the Public Works Arts Project much less the post offices of Texas could have been fitted on the head of a pin.

In other words, the book was my teacher.

It's not that I have no point of view. I am always inspired by undiscovered books about any aspect of my specialty, rural American culture. At the same time, I abhor bad writing.

Thus I gave Philip Parisi and the Texas A & M Press high marks for a user-friendly study of a fascinating subject, previously unknown to me. That is, a routine decision by the United States government that it would give a boost to the long-suffering artist with a form of public art (a mural) that could be easily consumed by the foot-sore public while waiting in line to buy a three-cent stamp. Thus we had a radical decision that a public venue, namely the local post office, should be made into an arena of visual truth, if not beauty.

For that reason, I can be of little or no help in the public dispute over Pennsylvania WPA art photographs.

I might note as a footnote that as our newest depression (2009ff) takes hold, the federal government should consider dumping the bloated if not overrated National Endowment for the Arts and renew, instead, the disparate but inspired type of projects underwritten by the WPA to benefit starving artists, if not the public at large.

--- Fredericka Massey, PhD
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