The North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts

No Deal in the New Deal: An Unrealized Mural Project

This piece examines in detail a proposal for the Longview, Texas, Post Office mural project. The mural was part of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Section of Painting and Sculpture Relief Program for artists during the Great Depression. Unrealized, the proposal made by Denton artist Coreen Mary Spellman surfaced in near pristine condition during the spring of 2007, complete with notes on flap sheets and the brown paper wrapper in which the unsuccessful project was returned to her. The four panels describe significant aspects of the Longview community. One panel focuses on a general history of the town while the three remaining panels highlight agricultural products, industrial products, and the oil industry, which was a significant part of the rapidly growing oil-boom town. The proposal was done in pencil with watercolor washes and is executed in the precisionist style that was prevalent in American art at the time. This was one of the artist’s primary styles. The online piece, with a strong educational orientation, provides in-depth research into one of Texas’ early artists, whose work is gaining considerable notice in the current early Texas art market. The piece also presents a context whereby teachers and students can make connections between the artwork and other important areas of the elementary curriculum, specifically social studies. The resources offered in the piece provide valuable materials for both art and social studies teachers to build meaningful curriculum relating to the student’s environment.

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