“Neither Snow Nor Rain”: Cranbrook and the New Deal Post Office Murals

In 1940, the Columbus, Kansas post office received an imposing addition: a giant slab of terra-cotta.  Mounted on the wall, the bas-relief showed mail delivery in a rural community, the sort of neighborhood where the postman drops off the mail in a field of horses.  Crafted by Waylande Gregory as part of a New Deal art project funded first through the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) and then the U.S. Treasury Section of Fine Arts, the post office mural (titled R.F.D.) represents not only an example of Gregory’s large scale sculptural installations but also a period of time when the American government invested heavily in the idea that public art installed in everyday environments could bolster the American economy and elevate the national discourse.

Waylande Gregory, R.F.D. (detail), Columbus, Kansas.  Charles Swaney/Living New Deal Project, University of California, Berkeley

Waylande Gregory, R.F.D. (detail), Columbus, Kansas. Charles Swaney/Living New Deal Project, University of California, Berkeley

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