New Mexico New Deal Sites November 2018 - Photo #197 - University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Photo: 18 November 2018
University of New Mexico Zimmerman Library. One of a series of four Three Peoples Murals by Kenneth Adams in the main hall ("Three Peoples" meaning Native, Anglo, and Hispanic). Contrary to widespread belief[3], these were not funded by the New Deal even though that was the original intention[4].  Nevertheless, they are features of a New Deal building and framed by New Deal woodwork and masonry that were designed to accommodate them.
  1. Zimmerman Library Artwork, University of New Mexico Library Celebrating Zimmerman@75 website, accessed 28 November 2018.
  2. Sisneros, Samuel, "Three Peoples" mural unchanged after decades of protest", Daily Lobo, 30 October 2017.
  3. "University of New Mexico May Remove Murals that Ignore Indigenous POV", Color Lines, 9 October 2018: "UNM artist-in-residence Kenneth Adams developed the Three Peoples murals through the Public Works of Art Project, a federal initiative of the New Deal that employed artists nationwide in 1939." This is one of many erroneous articles where the PWAP was credited for financing the work.
  4. Bellmore, Audra, and Sever Bordeianu (University of New Mexico), "Youth, Science, and the Future: Three Sets of New Deal Era Murals at the University of New Mexico," Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America, V.32, No.1, Spring 2013, pp.71-86:
    In 1936, University of New Mexico's president James Zimmerman obtained PWA funding for several new university buildings, including a new university library ... Zimmerman hired John Gaw Meem to design the structure in his characteristic Spanish pueblo style. From the outset, Meem's plans included included four recessed bays in the library's great hall, where a large-scale set of murals was to be installed. Construction ofthe Zimmerman Library progressed from 1936—1938, and the four architectural bays meant to showcase the series of murals were completed as part of the project ... After the completion of the library structure in1938, there was no PWA money left to furnish or decorate the building. In a letter from W. Carlos Powell, the local acting director of the PWA, to UNM president James Zimmerman, he stated: "I am advised by the Central Office that no further amendatory applications, involving additions to the present allotment, may be accepted or given consideration in any manner." With funding from the PWA exhausted, the four bays above the reference desk waited unfinished for a year, until Zimmerman obtained a grant from the Carnegie Foundation's Artist-in-Residence Program. The Carnegie grant enabled Zimmerman to hire Adams to work on the murals ... While ultimately funded by the Carnegie Corporation, Adams's Zimmerman Library murals are related to other New Deal-funded murals found across the country and the state. They echo the democratic sentiment of the period, with their emphasis on working people coming together for the greater social good.