Jun 152012
Telegraph Hill
Coit Tower
WPA Murals
This pair of canvas’ are also in the elevator alcove.  The depict the farmlands of the Santa Clara Valley and the hills of the East Bay.
The artists was Rinaldo Cuneo. (1877-1939).  Cuneo was a native San Franciscan from North Beach where he maintained a studio.  He was educated at the Mark Hopkins Art Institute as well as in Paris and London.  He taught at the California School of Fine Arts and was a prolific painter.

This is the last in a series of the murals of Coit Tower.  There are more, unfortunately, they are not available to the public.  If you are interested in seeing pictures of them, and learning more about Coit Tower and all of the murals, I highly suggest you search out Masha Zakheim’s Book Coit Tower.

Jun 142012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * This is the second of the murals in the elevator alcove, It is titled San Francisco Bay, North and is by Jose Moya Del Pino (1869-1969). The two young men represent Moya del Pino himself watching as fellow artist Otis Oldfield sketches what he sees below him. If one looks closely you can see the former prison on the island of Alcatraz. This too is oil on canvas. Jose Moya del Pino was born in Priego, Spain. By 1907, Moya was studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, and associated with Continue Reading

Jun 132012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * In the alcove, where visitors wait for the elevator are four more murals. This one is titled San Francisco Bay. This is an oil on canvas, and was painted in the artists studio. The two little girls are the artists, Otis Oldfield’s, daughters, Rhoda and Jayne. as they look down on the waterfront from their father’s Telegraph Hill studio. The larger island they are peering at is Yerba Buena Island. That is the island that the present day San Francisco Bay Bridge goes through. Treasure Island, which would have been attached on the Continue Reading

Jun 122012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals News Gathering by Suzanne Scheuer Scheuer worked with assistant Heve Daum on news gathering for her panel in Coit Tower. Suzanne Scheuer was born in San Jose, California on February 11, 1898. She moved to San Francisco in 1918. She studied at the California School of Fine Arts and the California College of Arts and Crafts. She then taught for three years in the public schools of Los Banos and Salinas. In 1940 she joined the art faculty at the College of the Pacific in Stockton and taught there for ten years. She then Continue Reading

Jun 112012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals The Library by Bernard B. Zakheim The Coit Tower murals were painted during a particularly disruptive period in U.S. History. Depression related economic challenges led to much discussion about alternate forms of government. A four day general strike (Bloody Thursday) accompanied by widespread rioting in San Francisco triggered an eighty-three day 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike. Coit Tower muralists protested and picketed at the tower when Rivera’s mural commissioned for Rockefeller Center in New York City was destroyed after he refused to change an image of Lenin in the painting. The opening of Coit Continue Reading

Jun 102012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * Stockbroker and Scientist by Mallete (Harold) Dean Their are six figures that stand alone in the Tower. (You can review the first four here).  The stockbroker/banker is thought to be A.P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of Italy that later became Bank of America.  The Scientist is Nobel Prize winner, Albert Abraham Michelson.  He holds an interferometer and a scroll and stands near a picture of the James Lick Observatory which is on Mount Hamilton in San Jose, California.  Notice how the door of the observatory is a light switch. * Mallete Dean Continue Reading

Jun 092012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals The Meat Industry by Raymond Bertrand * Notice the clever use of the window Raymond Bertrand (1901-1986) was a native San Franciscan.  He studied at the California School of Fine Arts where he later taught Lithography. Bertrand was primarily a landscape panter, a critic once commented that Bertrand used “freezing blues, whites and greys” in his oil in a “small but icy collection of arctic landscapes”.  His name is used as the “author” of the book titled Rape, Mayhem and Vagrancy in the law library scene at Coit Tower.

Jun 082012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * ( * Industries of California by Ralph Stackpole This is a vast expression of the industries of California at the time.  Stackpole painted several fellow artists in this mural as well.  Tom Lehman, a local artist, pours chemicals into a container while William Hesthal bends over a table, notebook in hand.  Helen Clement Mills is one of the women working on an assembly line. * * Ralph Ward Stackpole (1885-1973) Stackpole grew up in Oregon.  He worked with scepter Arthur Putnam and painter Gottardo Piazzoni and the went to Paris to study at Continue Reading

Jun 072012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals Department Store by Frede Vidar This mural depicts the interior of a typical 1930’s department store with soda fountain and wine shop.  Some items of interest are the fact that the waitress wears a cap with a Star of Dave, (which is surprising as Frede Vidar frequently expressed pro-Nazi sympathies and even scratched a swastika on a windowpane when he worked on the project)  and the fact that one of the clerks is holding a box with the SS logo on it.  Notice the Bing Crosby music in the background as well as Roman Continue Reading

Jun 062012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * Cowboy and Farmer by Clifford Wight These are four of six single standing figures in the collection.  They represent the very essence of California. The Will Rogers Style cowboy (that many friends of Wight said was a self portrait) and the farmer, that looks an awful lot like artist Ralph Stackpole. * These two are Surveyor and Ironworker. There are three windows between these two figures. Over the central window Wight painted a bridge, which had the NRA Eagle in the center. Over the right hand window he stretched a segment of chain, Continue Reading

Jun 052012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * * * * City Life by Victor Arnautoff is one of the largest murals in Coit Tower.  It is a wonderfully vibrant street scene taking artistic license with the various city landmarks and their geographic positions. * * * Some things of note, the fire engine is Number 5, which was Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s beloved Knickerbocker Volunteer Fire Department.  Newspapers that include New Masses, Daily Worker, Time, Argonaut and Screenplay, with Mae West on the front.  The San Francisco Chronicle is noticeably absent, causing quite a stir at the time in the local Continue Reading

Jun 042012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * * California Industrial Scenes by John Langley Howard This mural gives us several juxtaposed scenes indicative of any society, but especially poignant during such difficult times. There are the solemn workers of the May Day demonstration, a woman doing laundry on the rocks, and an elderly woman sawing logs by hand, while the great symbols of hydroelectric power are there in her sight. There is a migrant family with their broken down Model-T next to a group of observers with chauffeur and furs.  Notice the hobo on the train trestle, and the worker Continue Reading

Jun 032012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * The California Agriculture Industry by Gordon Langdon The dairy business is represented in this mural as well as several of the artists friends.  Gordon Langdon was assisted by Helen Clement Mills on this mural. Fellow artist Fred Olmsted and his assistant Tom Hayes Fellow artist John Langley Howard holding a pitchfork * Fellow artist Lucien Labaudt showering a cow Gordon Langdon did not stay long on the Coit Tower project.  His friends remembered him as a “handsome young man”.  His other murals in San Francisco include Modern and Ancient Science over the main Continue Reading

Jun 022012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * * * * This mural is titled California and is by Maxine Albro.  A wonderful depiction of the bounty of the California agricultural industry from Mt. Shasta Almond Orchards to Napa Valley grapes.  *  * The “gentlemen farmers” are actually the artists friends.  Ralph Stackpole is in the checkered shirt and Albro’s husband, and fellow artist Parker Hall is by the tray of apricots.  The NRA (National Recovery Act)  eagle is found on the ends of the lugs of oranges.  The NRA was the primary New Deal agency established by U.S. president Franklin Continue Reading

Jun 012012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals The little seated boy looks at a book whose page shows the date of Coit Tower (1933) and the date of the WPA projects at Coit Tower (1934). * Animal Force by Ray Boynton These are the first frescoes that one sees when entering Coit Tower.  Boynton chose to portray animal power in Agriculture.  As often occurred he included fellow artist Gordon Langdon leaning on a horse. Ray Boynton was an Iowan, after studying art in Chicago he came to California to become the first California Fresco artist.  His first project appeared in a Los Continue Reading

May 312012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals   * This law library has some interesting book titles when one looks closely.  There are the usual Civil, Penal and Moral Codes, but also the Law of Fresco Painting,  Counterfeiting, and Laws on Seduction.  A fun one is Martial Law by Brady, he was the VFW caretaker who watched over the project and lived in the Tower’s apartment.   The man on the left with the pipe is thought to be, patron of the arts, William Gerstle. The Stock Exchange. Notice the downward movements of the market. Federal Reserve Bank. It is thought that the Continue Reading

May 302012
Telegraph Hill -Coit Tower Murals

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower WPA Murals * * This is the beginning of a series on the WPA murals of Coit Tower. When the Great Depression hit, like everyone, artists were not finding work. George Biddle, a prominent lawyer turned successful artist, a member of a socially prominent family from Philadelphia, and most importantly, a Groton and Harvard classmate of Franklin Roosevelt, went to the President with an idea. He suggested that America hire American artists to paint murals depicting the social ideals of the new administration as well as the American way of life, on the walls of public Continue Reading

May 292012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower

Telegraph Hill Coit Tower To understand Coit Tower you must first understand Lillie Hitchcock Coit.  A nice tale is told here from the Virtual San Francisco History Museum written by: By Frederick J. Bowlen, Battalion Chief, San Francisco Fire Department. One of the most unusual personalities ever connected with our Fire Department was a woman. She was Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who was destined not only to become a legend but to attain that eminence long before her life ended. She came to this city in 1851 from West Point, where her father had been an army doctor. Seven years later, when only 15 Continue Reading

May 232012
Telegraph Hill - Coit Tower and Christopher Columbus

Coit Tower Telegraph Hill * * Columbus by Vittorio Di Colbertaldo – 1957 This statue of Christopher Columbus sits in the center of the parking lot for Coit Tower. The figure of Columbus, the famous Italian explorer, gazes out over San Francisco Bay standing on a concrete pedestal in the center of a circular flower bed, bordered by a marble ring. Dedicated on October 12, 1957, the newspapers of the time recorded that “Singers, sailors from American and Italian navies, and spectators stood in reverent silence as 12-foot statue of Christopher Columbus is unveiled today on Telegraph Hill. The sculpture Continue Reading