Romanian folk art and Coit Tower murals


I’m always looking for treasures for my thrift art collection so Stella and I hunted a little while we had some down time in Pacific Grove. For some reason, PG — population 2.2 residents and 2,000 tourists — has four thrift shops and they’re all pretty good. I found the hand-painted Romanian plate (image above) at the PG Episcopal thrift shop. The plate is made of wood and dated 1979. And if Fodor’s rated thrift stores, this one would be right up there.


Meanwhile in San Francisco my day of art looking down-shifted to an hour at SF MOMA and a brief encounter with Coit Tower’s wonderful indoor murals — on a sparkling day too beautiful to stay indoors.

Outdoors, by the way, the fiberglass mascots du jour — we’ve seen them everywhere (dogs of the Main Line, donkeys and elephants in DC, cows in Chicago) — have made it to the Bay city. We passed the first painted fiberglass heart without realizing what it was. When the second, identical except for the paint, came along, I knew what I was dealing with. (image is Stella with heart)

I am not a fan of these objects which add up to just more visual clutter.


Coit’s lovelies


Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s tower up Telegraph Hill is a memorial to San Francisco firefighters made possible by Coit’s loving bequest in 1933. (image is nicely gothic but unattributed drawing from website referenced below. Needless to say, it’s a little more built up around the tower nowadays.)


Coit was a kind of mascot, speaking of mascots, for Fire Company 5 which she befriended as a kid and kept on helping even after she married. Something of a character, Coit apparently had the number 5 embroidered on all her clothes.


Read more about the tower and Coit here.

The 210-ft. high tower provides spectacular views of the Bay, its bridges and Alcatraz island from right outside.

Inside, the first floor is decorated wall to wall and ceiling to floor with social-realist murals painted in 1934.

The murals depict a melange of images all focused on workers and working class people.


There are street scenes, factory scenes, scenes inside the public library, anthemic images of workers, all done with Diego Rivera-seriousness.

26 artists and 19 helpers worked on the murals, which have a hand-drawn, fresco-like affect and an amazing, non-stop flow and integration from one scene to the next.


With all that working class uplift, I’m not sure what to make of the street scene depicting an armed robbery. I imagine robbery was a part of life back then and this was one artist’s way of capturing the good as well as the bad.