The Texas Post Office Murals Art for the People, By Philip Parisi, 2004
Walk into any of sixty post offices or federal buildings in the state of Texas and you may be greeted by a surprising sight: magnificent mural art on the lobby walls.
In the midst of the Great Depression, a program was born that would not only give work to artists but also create beauty and optimism for a people worn down by hardship and discouragement. This New Deal program commissioned artists to create post office murals—the people’s art—to celebrate the lives, history, hopes, and dreams of ordinary Americans. In Texas alone, artists painted ninety-seven artworks for sixty-nine post offices and federal buildings around the state. Painted by some of the best-known artists of the day, these murals sparkled with scenes of Texas history, folklore, heroes, common people, wildlife, and landscapes.
Murals were created from San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas to Big Spring, Baytown, and Hamilton. The artists included Tom Lea, Jerry Bywaters, Peter Hurd, Otis Dozier, Alexandre Hogue, and Xavier Gonzalez. The images showed people at work and featured industries specific to the region, often coupled with symbols of progress such as machinery and modern transportation. Murals depicted cowboys and stampedes, folk heroes from Sam Bass to Davy Crockett, revered Indian chief Quanah Parker, and community symbols such as Eastland’s lizard mascot, Ol’ Rip.
In this beautiful volume Philip Parisi has gathered 115 photographs of these stunning and historic works of art—36 in full color. He tells the story of how they came to be, how the communities influenced and accepted them, and what efforts have been made to restore and preserve them.
Enjoy this beautiful book in the comfort of your living room, or take it with you on the road as a guide to the people’s art in the Lone Star State.
Philip Parisi, who now lives in Logan, Utah, and is a freelance writer and visiting assistant editor of the Western Historical Quarterly, began work on this manuscript while on the staff of the Texas Historical Commission. He directed a project that involved assembling a collection of slides of the extant murals and tracing the history of this WPA project.
What Readers Are Saying:
“The themes, images, and artists of the Texas Post Office murals now have a masterful reference work thanks to Philip Parisi. This great public art came out of the Great Depression. Some are lost; others, destroyed. But Parisi accounts for all of them and tells numerous fascinating stories about their creation.”--Clyde A. Milner II, Director, Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program, Arkansas State University
“Philip Parisi’s Texas Post Office Murals is an art book and a history guide all in one. The Public works of Art project which became the Section of Fine Arts during the Depression celebrated local history in art across Texas in its post offices. Parisi’s extensive research located and catalogued these forgotten pieces of art and allows the present generation to enjoy it as our grandfathers did. They saw the murals in their own post offices, but thanks to Parisi’s work we get to see all of it!” --J’Nell L. Pate, author of Livestock Legacy: The Fort Worth S
“Anyone who has ever questioned the public patronage of the visual arts should be given a copy of this wonderful book.” --Bloomsbury Review
“Gayle arranged for the town to host the first book signing for Philip Parisi’s book on Texas post office murals.” --The Eagle Spotlight
“This book, in effect, brings the murals down from the walls, making them available for the first time all in one place.” --SirReadaLot.org
“Exquisitely printed, meticulously bound and beautifully conceived. . . has gathered beautiful full color photographs of the existing works of art in his book The Texas Post Office Murals. . . will bring immeasurable beauty to the eye of the beholder.” --The Desert-Mountain Times
“One result is this book, a beautiful collection of Texas art with brief biographies of artists and 104 color pictures.” --Victoria Advocate
“A new book by a former staff member of the Texas Historical Commission has give the frozen faces of the Depression-era images a voice. . . The stories that accompany the pictures give even the faded pieces new life, and a map in the back of the book makes it easy to find the towns with post office murals. . . Not only does the book show the paintings, but it also puts them in context of the time and place with background stories of how they were produced.” --The Bryan-College Station Eagle
“Hats off to the author and Texas A&M for documenting these murals before they were lost to everyone. . . Every library and school in Texas needs this book and even in New Mexico. It is well done and an important piece of history to document.” --Tradicion Revista
“Philip Parisi has made it his labor of love to preserve the art done for Texas Post offices. . .Parisi’s message is that awful times ended up blessing us with a wonderful legacy–and an obligation to preserve and protect it.” --Time Out for Entertainment
9.5 x 9.5, 200 pp.