The local effort to save historic murals slated for demolition inside Mamaroneck High School, a story that was first reported by theLoop, is the subject of an exhaustive article in an exhaustive piece in forbes.com
The Village of Mamaroneck Historical Society and a group of concerned residents, “Save the Mamaroneck High School WPA Era Murals,” are working together to raise funds to safely remove at least two of the murals and reinstall them, perhaps in a museum, and their effort has, apparently, received national attention.
Wow, I’m amazed that the Forbes writer, Matthew Carey Salyer, was able to get into Mamaroneck High School to see the murals. I’m a parent at the school and I’ve never been inside, due to Covid restrictions.
As someone who went through a PhD program for Art History and works as a Fine Art Appraiser, I have a great respect for art and art history. I also have a solid understanding of art’s value monetarily, aesthetically and historically. It is because I have this knowledge and perspective that I believe the Mamaroneck School Board has made the right choice in this instance.
Not everything can be saved when making decisions based on limited funds and physical space. Thankfully there are ways to save these murals with high resolution digital photography, so they will not be lost and can be studied or referenced in the future. That said, I’m not sure how celebrated they were BEFORE there was talk of their destruction. Have they been included in literally any scholarship on art of that period or public art projects? I’d be curious to know this.
Furthermore, just because Ms. Jennewein has one watercolor in the Smithsonian’s collection (a transfer from the General Services Administration), it seems a big stretch to call her a “notable midcentury artist.” Another artist mentioned was John Potter Wheat – who, yes, is represented in the collection of the New Britain Museum (by works he donated to the museum himself). I don’t wish to denigrate any of the artists but they clearly don’t have the stature of artists like Thomas Hart Benton or Diego Rivera.
If the town’s historical society can raise enough money to save the murals privately and find a place to put them, then great. Otherwise, I think the town should definitely have them digitized and made available for future study. I just don’t believe the town is obligated to spend a lot of money to save them. Thank you Mr. Salyer for your perspective and some interesting historical points. I could have done without your contemptuous insinuations that people in this town are vacuous and don’t respect culture.