About the Artwork

Works Progress Administration Art

The artwork used on our website comes from a mural painted by Jenne Magafan and Edward Chavez under the supervision of Frank Mechau.

You can find the mural, titled “Decorative Map,” in the White River National Forest building (pictured). The photographs of the mural used on the Kerst & Strautman website were taken by Bill Kight, District Supervisor for the White River National Forest and are used with permission.

The mural in the WRNF building is original and can be viewed by the public on request.  Reproductions of other works by Frank Mechau can be found in the U.S. Post Office building in Carbondale, Colorado, and in the Redstone Inn, in Redstone, approximately 10 miles south of Carbondale.

WPA Artwork

The federal government commissioned art projects under the Treasury Relief Art Project in association with the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The purpose of the program was “to give work to artists by arranging to have competent representatives of the profession embellish public buildings.”

This program lasted less than one year, yet it provided employment for approximately 3,700 artists who created nearly 15,000 works of art.

In 1935, a similar project, the Federal Art Project was established by the WPA and continued until 1943 when the World War II focused national priority to the war effort.

Masterpieces created under the WPA and its associated programs can be found in post offices and other federal buildings around the country.

More Information

History of the New Deal Art Projects (www.wpamurals.com/history.html)
New Deal/WPA Art in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (www.wpamurals.com/glenwood.htm)


Frank Mechau (kneeling in center), a three time Guggenheim fellow, set up an art school in Redstone, Colorado in 1937. The fine public buildings provided space to work on large murals. Redstone came alive as an art school for his talented students. in 1946 Mechau’s brilliant career was cut short by a fatal heart attack at age 42. “The art world was rocked by his sudden death.” – Denver Post

Mechau and his apprentices, Ed Chavez and sisters Jennie and Ethel Magafan (pictured above) are working on this mural commissioned for the US Forest Service White River District Office. They became distinguished as WPA artists.