Inside the Monroeville, AL Post Office is a New Deal mural titled, “Harvesting”. This oil-on-canvas painting shows a farmer using a three-mule team to pull a threshing machine across a wheat field. The artist that painted the mural is Arthur L. Bairnsfather, and the date of the painting is September 1, 1939. Bainsfather was hired to paint the mural after he won an open competition conducted by the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture under contract to WPA. He was paid $680. The mural was restored in 1985 by John Bertalan, a native of Birmingham, who specializes in art restoration.
In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt created the New Deal which included programs to help recover from the Great Depression. There were several attempts to provide work for unemployed artists one of these being the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture administered by the Treasury Department. Under this program, artists were hired to decorate public buildings. Much of their work was performed in post offices because they were located in virtually every community. Many of these works of art have been destroyed or stolen over the years. The “Harvesting” mural is one of the surviving works of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Art Program. It is a reminder of a time in our country’s history when dreams were not allowed to be destroyed by economic disaster.
The “Harvesting” mural is located inside the Monroeville, AL Post Office which is at the corner of Alabama Avenue and E. Claiborne Street across the street from the old Monroe County Courthouse (GPS coordinates N31.526852,W87.323681)
Source: Monroeville Walking Tour, published by Monroeville/Monroe County Chamber of Commerce