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{{Display censorship incident
 
{{Display censorship incident
 
|ongoing=no
 
|ongoing=no
|year=1936
+
|work=Almost, Maine
 +
|year=2014
 
|region=North America
 
|region=North America
|artist=Victor Arnautoff ('Life of Washington' murals)
+
|artist=John Cariani, theater students
|subject=Political/Economic/Social Opinion
+
|subject=Sexual/Gender Orientation
|confronting_bodies=San Francisco Board of Education
+
|confronting_bodies=School principal, Rob Bliss
|medium=Painting, Public Art
+
|medium=Theatre
|date_of_action=December 2018-June 2019
+
|date_of_action=October 14, 2014
|location=San Francisco, CA
+
|location=Maiden Highschool, NC
|description_of_content=“Life of Washington” is a mural comprising thirteen panels in fresco on the life of George Washington that depict him in both real and imagined scenarios. It was painted by Russian-American painter and Stanford professor of art Victor Arnautoff in the 1930s (with assistance from artists George Harris and Gorden Langdon) and completed in 1936 at the newly built George Washington High School in San Francisco.  
+
|description_of_content=Almost, Maine is a play, comprising nine short plays that explore love and loss in a remote, mythical almost-town called Almost, Maine.
 +
|description_of_incident=Local churches and parents of students were complaining that the scene 'They Fell' is containing explicit sexuality between two men which fell in love with each other, although the scene is not containing any swearing or physical contact. After that, Rob Bliss the School principal cancelled the play with the cause, that it has sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.
 +
|description_of_result=Playwright John Cariani tried to contact the school to find a solution, but he didn't heard back.  
  
Funded by the Works Progress Administration's (WPA) Federal Art Project, the murals were Arnautoff’s largest New Deal commission and one of the largest ensembles of New Deal artworks at a single site. Arnautoff was a well-known muralist, having painted other WPA funded projects including murals at Coit Tower where he was Technical Director of the project.
+
Rob Bliss statement: 'As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances, are appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.
  
Arnautoff presented the murals as a counter-narrative to high school history texts of the time. The murals depicted Washington's dependence on slave labor, his role in Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion, and the “march of the white race” (in Arnautoff’s words). In one panel Washington is depicted pointing westward over the body of dead Native American.
+
'Our faculty and staff are still in review of potential performances to be conducted by our students this fall. At this time no final decision has been made regarding whether and what drama performances are to be presented this fall.'
 
+
|image=1413792313788 wps 6 Almost Maine Almost Maine.jpg
Arnautoff's political views were influenced by Diego Rivera, for whom he worked as an assistant while living in Mexico. His style is considered more subtle than Rivera's and that of other social realists of the period. Later he joined the Communist Party, the American Artists' Congress and the San Francisco Artists and Writers Union. His politics were reflected in his work, which was part of the mural arts movement intended to inspire change through criticism of the current political system.
+
|source=http://www.playbill.com/news/article/high-school-cancels-student-production-of-almost-maine-john-cariani-responds-333621
 
 
Two of the mural panels have come under fire since the 1960’s for their depictions of African Americans and Native Americans. For decades, activists have called for their removal.
 
|description_of_incident=In December 2018, George Washington High School was denied landmark status specifically due to the two panels containing offensive content. The high school is part of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education. The Board was divided about the school’s application for landmark status because designating it as such would make it impossible to modify or remove the murals afterwards.
 
 
 
The SFUSD created a 13-member “Reflection and Action Group” to provide a recommendation to the Board. In February 2019, after four public meetings, they issued their final recommendation to remove the entire series of murals from the school.
 
 
 
The George Washington High School Alumni Association GWHSAA) launched a campaign to keep the 83-year-old murals intact. The alumni proposed adding interpretive panels to give them historical context and to also document how they have been experienced by Native American, African American, and other students of color.
 
 
 
The story was extensively covered in both local and national media. Those who would censor the work cited its depiction of slavery and the murder of a Native American as traumatizing to some students of color. Others, including NCAC and the leaders of four of San Francisco’s top visual arts institutions, argued that it is an artistic and historical treasure that does not celebrate the life of George Washington uncritically, but rather depicts him as complicit in slavery and the violent pursuit of America’s “Manifest Destiny.”
 
|description_of_result=On June 25, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to remove/paint over the murals. But in early August, after months of public pressure, the Board nullified their vote:
 
 
 
"In a compromise that did not appear to end the fight, the San Francisco Board of Education voted Tuesday night to conceal, but not destroy, a series of Depression-era school murals that some considered offensive to Native Americans and African-Americans.
 
 
 
"The 4-to-3 vote, which came after a tense and emotional meeting, nullified the board’s earlier vote to paint over the murals, a decision that had brought widespread complaints of censorship."
 
(NYTimes, August 14, 2019)
 
|image=Arnautoff, Life of Washington.jpg
 
|source=Photo: Amanda Law, via https://www.donnagraves.org/blog/2018/2/27/citywide-historic-context-for-new-deal-san-francisco
 
 
}}
 
}}
GEORGE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL: ARNAUTOFF MURAL – SAN FRANCISCO CA
+
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2799828/north-carolina-high-school-bans-student-play-sexually-explicit-gay-scene.html
https://livingnewdeal.org/projects/george-washington-high-school-arnautoff-mural-san-francisco-ca/
+
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almost,_Maine
 
+
http://ncac.org/incident/why-the-curtain-almost-went-up-on-almost-maine/
CITYWIDE HISTORIC CONTEXT FOR NEW DEAL SAN FRANCISCO
+
<br>
https://www.donnagraves.org/blog/2018/2/27/citywide-historic-context-for-new-deal-san-francisco
+
<br>
...
+
<Br>
Aug. 25, 2019
+
<br>
Feinstein on SF mural flap: Don’t destroy it, don’t cover it up
+
<br>
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/philmatier/article/Feinstein-on-SF-mural-flap-Don-t-destroy-it-14374916.php
+
<Br>
 
+
<br>
Aug. 21, 2019
+
<br>
Alice Walker Defends George Washington Murals
+
<Br>
“Why try to hide the reality of our history?” she said of the objectionable images that confronted San Francisco students every day.
+
<br>
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/21/arts/design/alice-walker-defends-george-washington-murals.html
+
<br>
 
+
<Br>
August 14, 2019
+
<br>
San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals
+
<br>
The vote, which came after a tense meeting, nullified an earlier vote to paint over Depression-era school murals that some considered offensive to minorities.
+
<Br>
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/14/arts/san-francisco-murals-george-washington.html
+
<br>
 
+
<br>
August 12, 2019
+
<Br>
Actor Danny Glover Opposes Washington High Mural Removal; Calls Plan ‘A Book Burning’
+
<br>
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/08/12/washington-high-mural-actor-danny-glover-book-burning/
+
<br>
 
+
<Br>
Aug. 7, 2019
+
<br>
Hundreds of people flood SF school to see mural slated for destruction
+
<br>
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/More-than-100-people-flood-SF-school-to-see-mural-14274260.php
+
<Br>
 
+
<br>
August 6, 2019
+
<br>
San Francisco NAACP Leaders Call For Preservation Of Controversial School Mural
+
<br>
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/08/06/san-francisco-naacp-leaders-preservation-controversial-school-mural/
+
<br>
 
+
<br>
Aug 2, 2019
+
<br>
Voters may decide whether to save or destroy historic murals
+
<br>
Locals push to preserve controversial 1936 WPA art at SF high school
 
https://sf.curbed.com/2019/8/2/20751847/racist-san-francisco-mural-washington-vote-ballot-measure
 
 
 
Aug. 1, 2019
 
More than 100 people flood SF school to see mural slated for destruction
 
Nanette Asimov
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/More-than-100-people-flood-SF-school-to-see-mural-14274260.php?psid=aMZbp
 
 
 
July 31 2019
 
The Shame of the Mural Censors — Why Art and History Matter
 
By DeWitt Cheng
 
https://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/the-shame-of-the-mural-censors-why-art-and-history-matter/Content?oid=27198706
 
 
 
July 27, 2019
 
The Case for Keeping San Francisco’s Disputed George Washington Murals
 
Exposure to art — even uncomfortable art — is healthy, stimulating, and worthy of students’ debate.
 
ROBERTA SMITH
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/arts/design/george-washington-san-francisco-murals.html
 
 
 
July 27, 2019
 
Screaming match erupts over vote to remove Washington mural at San Francisco high school - CNN Video
 
https://www.cnn.com/videos/media/2019/07/27/school-board-votes-to-remove-historic-mural-san-francisco-smerconish-vpx.cnn
 
 
 
July 25, 2019
 
PD Editorial: Don’t destroy San Francisco school’s Washington mural
 
https://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/9830114-181/pd-editorial-dont-destroy-the?sba=AAS
 
 
 
July 25, 2019
 
PD Editorial: Don’t destroy San Francisco school’s Washington mural
 
https://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/9830114-181/pd-editorial-dont-destroy-the?sba=AAS
 
 
 
JULY 2019
 
Destroying Antiracist Art Will Not End Racism
 
BY AQSA AHMAD
 
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/07/art-san-francisco-george-washington
 
 
 
JULY 23, 2019
 
Whitewashing American History: the WPA Mural Controversy in San Francisco
 
by JACK HEYMAN
 
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/07/23/whitewashing-american-history-the-wpa-mural-controversy-in-san-francisco/
 
 
 
JULY 22, 2019
 
Move to erase George Washington mural sparks firestorm among Dems
 
By CARLA MARINUCCI
 
https://www.politico.com/story/2019/07/22/george-washington-mural-san-francisco-1424425
 
 
 
San Francisco Highschool Pledges to Paint Over Washington Mural
 
By Victor Westerkamp
 
https://www.ntd.com/san-francisco-highschool-pledges-to-paint-over-washington-mural_359863.html
 
 
 
NCAC Op-Ed July 12, 2019
 
Open Forum: SF school board need not be a regime that destroys art
 
By Svetlana Mintcheva
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Open-Forum-SF-school-board-need-not-be-a-regime-14089832.php
 
 
 
NCAC Letter: May 6, 2019
 
SAN FRANCISCO HIGH SCHOOL MAY DESTROY HISTORICAL MURALS
 
https://ncac.org/news/san-francisco-high-school-may-destroy-historical-murals
 
 
 
Professor Dewey Crumpler Defends GWHS Murals
 
GWHS Alumni Assn SF CA
 
Art Professor Dewey Crumpler defends Victor Arnautoff's (WPA/PWA 1936) Murals and discusses how the Arnautoff murals relate to his [Crumpler's] 1974 murals, and vice versa, at George Washington High School (San Francisco, California).  We must face, not erase, America’s dark history.  Censorship is never acceptable. - GWHS Alumni Association
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZEMpyvdAXQ&feature=youtu.be
 
 
 
June 26, 2019
 
San Francisco school board votes to destroy controversial Washington High mural
 
Jill Tucker
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-school-board-votes-to-destroy-14050025.php
 
 
 
SF school board votes to destroy circa 1936 mural
 
“No one has the right to tell us as native people—or our young people who walk those halls everyday—how they feel” 
 
https://sf.curbed.com/2019/6/24/18716046/george-washington-high-murals-sfusd-vote-victor-arnautoff
 
 
 
SFUSD Approves Covering Controversial George Washington High School Mural
 
https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2019/06/26/george-washington-high-school-mural-cover-up-sfusd/
 
 
 
June 25, 2019
 
Bay Area art leaders on censorship of George Washington High mural
 
The controversial mural will see its fate decided during a Tuesday evening school board meeting
 
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/bay-area-art-leaders-on-censorship-of-george-washington-high-mural
 
 
 
School board votes to paint over historic high school mural
 
Alumni have threatened to sue over removal of frescoes depicting slavery, death of Native Americans
 
https://www.sfexaminer.com/the-city/school-board-votes-to-paint-over-offensive-sections-of-historic-high-school-mural/
 
 
 
June 24, 2019
 
Open Forum: The San Francisco School Board is flunking history
 
By Lope Yap Jr. 
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Open-Forum-The-San-Francisco-School-Board-is-14039382.php
 
 
 
June 20, 2019
 
High school mural debate a reminder that destroying art destroys our culture
 
https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/art-exhibits/high-school-mural-debate-a-reminder-that-destroying-art-destroys-our-culture
 
 
 
June 19, 2019
 
Activists want a racist San Francisco high school mural removed
 
https://tworowtimes.com/opinion/activists-want-a-racist-san-francisco-high-school-mural-removed/
 
 
 
June 17, 2019
 
Fate of controversial SF high school mural down to three options
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/education/article/Fate-of-controversial-SF-high-school-mural-down-14008090.php?psid=auUdw
 
 
 
June 15, 2019
 
National Coalition Against Censorship Urges Retaining Washington Murals
 
https://sfrichmondreview.com/2019/06/15/national-coalition-against-censorship-urges-retaining-washington-murals/
 
 
 
June 10 2019
 
Activists want a high school mural removed. Should its impact today overshadow the artist's intentions?
 
https://www.cnn.com/style/article/george-washington-mural-conversation/index.html
 
 
 
MAY 13, 2019
 
David and Art - "High School Mural"
 
By BRODIE BASHAW
 
https://www.kwbu.org/post/david-and-art-high-school-mural#stream/0
 
 
 
May 7, 2019 9:00 p.m
 
Feds could weigh in on fight over preservation of historic mural
 
SFUSD working group favors removal of controversial Washington High School fresco
 
https://www.sfexaminer.com/the-city/feds-could-weigh-in-on-fight-over-preservation-of-historic-mural/
 
 
 
May 3, 2019
 
High School May Remove George Washington Mural that 'Traumatizes Students and Community Members'
 
http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2019/may/high-school-may-remove-george-washington-mural-that-traumatizes-students-and-community-members
 
 
 
Apr 15, 2019
 
STUDENT OPINION
 
Should School Murals That Depict an Ugly History Be Removed?
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/learning/should-school-murals-that-depict-an-ugly-history-be-removed.html
 
 
 
April 11, 2019
 
These High School Murals Depict an Ugly History. Should They Go?
 
By Carol Pogash
 
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/11/arts/design/george-washington-murals-ugly-history-debated.html
 
 
 
April 9, 2019
 
Historic WPA murals at George Washington High School are facing destruction due to controversial depictions of Native Americans and African-Americans
 
https://richmondsfblog.com/2019/04/09/historic-wpa-murals-at-george-washington-high-school-are-facing-destruction-due-to-controversial-depictions-of-native-americans-and-african-americans/
 
 
 
April 8, 2019
 
Critics say mural depicting slavery, Native Americans at a San Francisco high school is offensive
 
http://www.ktvu.com/news/ktvu-local-news/critics-say-mural-depicting-slavery-native-americans-at-a-san-francisco-high-school-is-offensive
 
 
 
Offensive or important? Debate flares anew over SF school mural depicting slavery
 
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Offensive-or-important-Debate-flares-anew-over-13748800.php
 
 
 
April 2, 2019
 
Washington High Alumni Push to Keep Dubious Mural
 
A mural showing colonizers stepping over a dead Native American has long been controversial, but an alumni group is fighting to save it.
 
http://www.sfweekly.com/news/washington-high-alumni-push-to-keep-dubious-mural/
 
 
 
 
 
 
<!--        END FEATURED CASE        -->
 
<!--        END FEATURED CASE        -->
 
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Latest revision as of 20:59, 1 October 2020

Featured Case



1413792313788 wps 6 Almost Maine Almost Maine.jpg

Artist: John Cariani, theater students

Year: 2014

Date of Action: October 14, 2014

Region: North America

Location: Maiden Highschool, NC

Subject: Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Theatre

Confronting Bodies: School principal, Rob Bliss

Description of Artwork: Almost, Maine is a play, comprising nine short plays that explore love and loss in a remote, mythical almost-town called Almost, Maine.

The Incident: Local churches and parents of students were complaining that the scene 'They Fell' is containing explicit sexuality between two men which fell in love with each other, although the scene is not containing any swearing or physical contact. After that, Rob Bliss the School principal cancelled the play with the cause, that it has sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.

Results of Incident: Playwright John Cariani tried to contact the school to find a solution, but he didn't heard back.

Rob Bliss statement: 'As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances, are appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.

'Our faculty and staff are still in review of potential performances to be conducted by our students this fall. At this time no final decision has been made regarding whether and what drama performances are to be presented this fall.'

Source: http://www.playbill.com/news/article/high-school-cancels-student-production-of-almost-maine-john-cariani-responds-333621


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2799828/north-carolina-high-school-bans-student-play-sexually-explicit-gay-scene.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almost,_Maine http://ncac.org/incident/why-the-curtain-almost-went-up-on-almost-maine/






























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