Sunday, June 30, 2019

Victor Arnautoff's Murals

I've been brooding over the San Francisco school board's unanimous decision to destroy Victor Arnautoff's murals. What kind of educator would call for the destruction of historically significant art? The Chronicle article lays out some of the facts.

Based on the coverage I've seen in the nation's key newspapers, the school board's decision is widely regarded as backward. That's not how San Francisco sees itself, and the school board's public comments trade vigorously in the rhetoric of progress. But it's hard to claim the high ground when you willfully destroy radical art that belongs to everybody. For me, this disgraceful decision reveals the Bay Area's ignorance of (or indifference to) its own radical history.

The silver lining, perhaps, is that my colleague Bob Cherny has added his voice to the debate. Bob wrote a book about Arnautoff that appeared in 2017. He has tried to reason with the board and is widely quoted in the coverage.

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