The Second Life of a University Park Artist’s Mural

hopkins-poster-17x36-lgA small town in Minnesota still sells posters of a University Park artist’s long-destroyed mural from their local post office.

In 1936, David M. Granahan painted a mural of farmland around the town of Hopkins, Minn., for the Works Progress Administration. (It was similar in theme and execution to the murals at the Hyattsville Post Office.)

Before the post office was demolished in 1972, a group of amateurs rescued a portion of the mural which shows farmers cultivating raspberries:

Lacking any appropriate tools, let alone knowledge of how to remove and protect the fabric upon which the artwork was done, Novak, Miller, and Shirley used an ice scraper and an old snow shovel to peel the material from the plaster wall. While not exactly a curator’s technique, the three agreed that any damage done would be infinitely less than what the wreckers would inflict in the coming days.

The mural was stored in a stairwell at city hall for a while before ending up at the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. The city of Hopkins now sells commemorative posters of “The Cultivation of Raspberries,” and a study of the mural is in the Smithsonian collection.

Granahan moved to the Washington area to do graphic arts for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving on the town councils of Greenbelt and University Park. He died in 1991.

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