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Sandbagging the Bulkheads (mural study, Cairo, Illinois Post Office)

1942 Wendell Jones Born: Galena, Kansas 1899 Died: Rome, Italy 1956 tempera, ink and pencil on fiberboard 23 7/8 x 36 in. (60.8 x 91.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Transfer from the Internal Revenue Service through the General Services Administration 1962.8.60 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

Consultation with local citizens regarding a mural's theme was sometimes insufficient to guarantee a mural's success. To prepare for his Cairo, Illinois commission, Wendell Jones talked with citizens who expressed pride that, despite periodic flooding of the Missouri River, the people of Cairo rallied and "not a drop of water ever got into the streets." In Sandbagging the Bulkheads Jones hoped to convey the epic heroism of citizens joining together, regardless of social class, to protect their city from impending disaster. On completion of the mural, however, citizens rebelled against a permanent reminder of the recurring threat. The Section succumbed to local objection and advised Jones not to install his painting. The mural has subsequently been lost.

Special Delivery: Murals for the New Deal Era, 1988


Figure group

Figure group - male

Landscape - Illinois - Cairo

Occupation - labor

Study - mural study

New Deal - Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture - Illinois



paint - tempera



About Wendell Jones

Born: Galena, Kansas 1899 Died: Rome, Italy 1956

More works in the collection by
Wendell Jones