The nickname WPA stands for Administration of work progress. It was a United States government-funded program started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. The scale and scope of these civic programs varied, from building roads and bridges to the creation of public works of art. San Francisco is home to many of the latter companies, including many murals such as The Beach Chalet And The Rincon Center.
Added to this respected company is a multi-panel piece titled: “World Sources of Food”. It is the work of former Works Progress Administration murals director John Garth. His piece incorporates the use of over 150,000 pieces of vitreous glass and tiles from Italy and Japan.
The artwork tells the story of how food is transported from around the world. This vibrant depiction incorporates both humans and animals to convey a message. Garth is quoted as saying, “True art is the expression of the soul of a nation and a people are judged by the art they honor.”
The mural, along with the Safeway grocery store building to which it is attached, was dedicated on June 24, 1959. It was Garth’s largest-ever creation. Unfortunately, it’s the only one left in situ that he designed for WPA.
Seen from a distance, the pixelated representation forms an almost photographic image. Located in the Marina District of San Francisco, this particular Safeway design would become known as “Marina style”, featuring an arched entrance and an exterior wall made of rock face.