UPDATE: Stacy Tapp, communications director for the Racine Unified School District, said school officials have found the WPA Artwork, but the mural is water damaged and they have not been able to remove it from the building. Officials with the Racine Art Museum are helping the school district find a person to look at the mural to see if it can be restored.

ORIGINAL STORY: After a fire at Mitchell Elementary destroyed the gym, a person contacted us at the Racine County Eye asking: what happened to the New Deal WPA Art that was in storage at the school?

The person, who did not want their name used, recalled that the art had been valued at $75,000, but it had essentially been rolled up and put in the basement area of the school. We weren’t able to confirm that the art was valued at that amount, but we did find photos of it in the basement.

We did a little research and found out on the WPAmurals.com website that there were five mural panels done by Santos Zingale under the Works Progress Administration. Zingale, an art professor at the University of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, painted the murals during the Great Depression through the Federal Art Project.

The mural, which was done in three sections, was 40-foot long and at the time Mitchell Elementary was Mitchell High School, according to Wisconsinart.com. The murals were taken down in the 1950s during a remodel of the library and had been in storage. The site also featured several photos of the mural while it was being painted and how it had been rolled up and put into storage.

So is the art a loss?

Stacy Tapp, who heads up the media relations department at Racine Unified, said that the full extent of the damage isn’t yet known because officials are still assessing the damage.


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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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