Ukiah Post Office Mural
From JANIE SHEPPARD
As everyone now knows, the Ukiah Post Office is home to an authentic New Deal mural. Noted artist Ben Cunningham painted it specifically for the Ukiah Post Office after consulting with respected members of the community. The mural reflects the agriculture and timber industry of the Ukiah Valley, as it was in the 1930’s and even now.
A recent trip to the East Coast where I searched out post office murals led me to reflect on the particular style of post office murals and the significance of preserving the murals “in situ” (in their natural place).
The Ukiah post office mural exemplifies New Deal art, funded by the federal government to embellish federal buildings and provide employment for artists during the Great Depression. We are fortunate to have in our everyday lives authentic New Deal art by an artist who went on to paint pieces that hang in the Smithsonian, adorn Coit Tower in San Francisco, and continue to be sold in fine art galleries.
If we convince the US Postal Service to retain the 1936 historic Ukiah Post Office, the mural will remain in its natural home.
If the Postal Service ignores our request, the Postal Service would sell the Oak Street Post Office and the mural would end up far from home, and, in any case, out of our everyday sight. Viewers, wherever and whenever, would have to be told of the economy of the Ukiah Valley in the Depression