The Theodore Roosevelt Mural in Long Island

It was this detail that attracted me to this series of paintings. I don’t normally like WPA art, which most of the time advocated a social realist aesthetic that painter Arshile Gorky called “poor art for poor people.” I usually find the work produced out of that government program no deeper than an instructive illustration.

This scene is set in 1900 when Roosevelt was governor of New York and showed up in Long Island to lay the cornerstone of the courthouse. I can’t figure out why everyone is so sharply turned away from the viewer in this panel. It creates the illusion of a very quiet moment during what should be a very loud speech.

See the full panel here and the four-panel series here.

Leave a Reply