Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 18

JIMMY S. EMERSON

" Dogwood and Azalea " was painted by Paul Rohland in 1938 for the
Decatur Post Office. The mural now hangs in the Martin Luther King Jr.
Federal Building in Atlanta.

18

Georgia Magazine

JIMMY S.

During renovations of the old post office in Vidalia, the middle
section of " The Country Store & Post Office, " completed in 1938 by
Daniel Celentano, was destroyed, and two paintings were created.
The artwork now hangs in Vidalia City Hall.

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE

In 2019, the U.S.
Postal Service issued
commemorative
stamps featuring
five of the more than
1,200 post office
murals.

EMERSON

years. Since 1988 it has been prominently displayed in the
lobby of Jesup's library.
Library manager Deborah Turner says that before the
coronavirus pandemic, the mural was the focus of annual
social studies field trips for fourth and fifth graders.
" The students would come in to learn about General
[James] Oglethorpe, who was the founder of the colony of
Georgia, " she says. " There is a framed plaque that explains at
length the history of the mural, the artist and when and why it
was painted. "
The Vidalia Post Office mural has a particularly unusual
history. When the old post office was being renovated to
serve as city hall, the middle section of the 1938 mural by
Daniel Celentano titled " The Country Store & Post Office " was
destroyed, and two pictures were created out of the remaining
art. However, a disembodied hand from the center section of
the mural remains visible in the right section. The two framed
pieces of art now hang in City Hall, outside the office of the
city clerk.
Celentano, like many of the artists whose works are
featured in post offices, enjoyed a distinguished career. At
age 12, Celentano became the first pupil of realist painter

Thomas Hart Benton. Today Celentano's art is displayed in
the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art in
New York City, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in
Washington, D.C., and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
Although historically accurate, a few Georgia murals depict
scenes of slavery and have come under scrutiny in recent years.
Some of those have been removed and are in storage, while
others have been covered until their fate is decided.
After having been on display for so long, post office art is
frequently overlooked-especially if it remains where originally
installed. The backgrounds of the artists often have been
forgotten as well as the reason why the art was commissioned
and installed. Yet each piece is historically significant.
In April 2019, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of five
commemorative stamps to formally recognize the importance
of this art in the nation's history.
To learn more about each of the 37 Georgia murals,
visit bit.ly/wpagamur.
Jim Winnerman, a St. Louis-based freelance writer, has
authored more than 1,000 articles on art, architecture and travel
for magazines and newspapers nationwide.

April 2021

16-18_Postoffice_mural_0421.indd 18

3/12/21 2:31 PM


http://www.bit.ly/wpagamur

Georgia Magazine - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2021

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 4
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 9
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 10
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Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 18
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Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - 38
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - April 2021 - Cover4
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