Join the Santa Monica Conservancy for our Annual Meeting and 2017 Preservation Awards on Saturday, April 8, from 2-4 pm at the Santa Monica Public Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd). Winners of our 2017 Preservation Awards will be honored, and the Conservancy will review its work and effectiveness in 2016 as well as hold board elections. The program will then feature the dramatic story of the return of Stanton Macdonald-Wright’s murals to our main library in 2005.
History of Macdonald-Wright & Murals
From 1934-1935, Macdonald-Wright painted an extensive mural cycle portraying humanity’s accomplishments in the creative arts, science and technology covering the main reading room of our original Carnegie Library. Macdonald-Wright went on to become the California director of the Federal Art Project for the Works Progress Administration from 1935-1942.
Raised in Santa Monica, he lived in Europe from 1909-1918, mingling with avant-garde artists, and co-founding a color abstraction style known as Synchronism. However, Macdonald-Wright is best known as a muralist, and the library was the site of his first mural project, painted on over 30 plywood panels positioned around doors, windows, archways and bookcases in its original setting. When the Carnegie Library was demolished in the mid-1960s for a new and larger building, the murals were removed, reclaimed by the federal government, and stored at the Smithsonian for decades.
Local arts activists and council members, long advocating for their return to Santa Monica, were finally successful, and the murals have been re-placed in the new modern building designed by the award-winning firm Moore Ruble Yudell. Macdonald-Wright also created the murals in City Hall’s lobby, and murals and a unique fire curtain at Barnum Hall. His work was featured in a major retrospective at LACMA in 2001.