Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Public Art in Post Offices

Earlier this week, the Preservation League of New York State posted the link to this article from Atlas Obscura on its Facebook page: "Appreciating America's Overlooked, Forgotten, and Discarded Post Office Murals." As the article explains:
During the Great Depression, another time of national crisis, postal stations were used to inspire citizens. Public art in federal buildings, including post offices, was created by artists employed by the United States government to beautify the country. In one federal program, 1,400 post office murals were created in more than 1,300 cities and towns. 
Theme of the South, by Laura G. Douglas--Photo by Justin Hamel
I read the article eagerly, curious to know if the sculptural relief in our post office would be mentioned. It wasn't, but if you follow the link provided to the Living New Deal website, you will find it listed, along with Montgomery C. Smith School and the 1938 addition to the post office, as one of the New Deal Projects in Hudson.

The mural in our post office, which is actually five cast stone reliefs, was created by Vincent Glinsky and his assistant Leo Schulemowitz under the Treasury Relief Art Project (TRAP). According to the Living New Deal website, the reliefs, which depict the "Evolution of Transportation," were created in 1934. The nominating document for the building's listing in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 indicates that the reliefs were installed in the post office in 1938, the same year the addition to the building was constructed.

This post was inspired by the Atlas Obscura article, but it could just as well have been inspired by a suggestion made at the last meeting of what is now being called the Hudson Cultural Task Force. At that meeting, Linda Mussmann suggested that, "if we could find a pot of money," there should be a Hudson WPA Project--an arts and culture based effort to hire people to create something of value to the community. Seth Rogovoy and Jonah Bokaer agreed to work with Mussmann to explore the possibility.

A Footnote: When I popped into the post office this morning, wearing my facemask, to take the picture above, the postal worker behind the counter asked if he could help me. I told him I was just there to take a picture of the mural, and he told me I couldn't do that. Before I could ask him why it wasn't allowed, another postal worker corrected the first and said it was OK, so I never got the chance to learn why there would be a prohibition against photographing a work of art in the post office.


  1. I recently saw a sign at the transfer station prohibiting videos or photos. Dont know how long that sign has been there but its convenient to no longer be able to document the amount of valuable goods being tossed while other communities actually set them aside to RECYCLE !!!

  2. Perhaps the Tourism Board might consider using its funds commissioning one or more public art pieces by local artists as an appropriate way to signal Hudson's cultural focus as well as engage one or more local artists in a remunerative undertaking. This would have the dual benefit of supporting tourism to and the image of Hudson as well provide a bit of work for some of our neighbors.

  3. This comment was submitted by Bob Tomaso:

    Much of Lake Taghkanic (formerly Lake Charlotte) was constructed during that time period under this program. Now sadly closed the "old" beach house still stands today as does the water tower in the camp grounds. My grandfather, Louis "Pop" Brown was the ice man back then, cutting and storing the winter ice from the lake and delivering it to "ice boxes" through out Hudson and Columbia County.

  4. Not sure if my comment was published.
    Basically there are many cracks in the Mural at Hudson P.O.
    It requires immediate attention for repairs.
    You do a great service to Citizens of Hudson.

  5. That is a great idea.Get some 3 rate artist to create a peice of trash and put it into the lobby of Galloway's proposed building.Anyway neither of the two will happen.