Post Office Mural Dedication – 66 Years Later!

While Venetians have a reputation for lateness, the dedication, Nov. 15, of the mural in the post office lobby which was painted in 1941 must take the cake.

The event honored the artist, the late Edward Biberman, who created Venice’s oldest surviving mural as part of a Work Projects Administration (WPA) assignment.

The dedication was also an opportunity for the distribution of a free 2008 calendar with photos of Venice murals. The calendar was put together by Stephen Pouliot and Paul Tanck, with the assistance of SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center). A free copy of the calendar can be obtained by calling Betsy Goldman at 396-2600.

Others speaking at the event included Betsy Goldman, MC; City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl; Suzanne Zada, Edward Biberman estate representative; Venice Postmaster Art Santana; Musician Brad Kay and the Venice Community Choir, who sang a new song about Venice; Brandon Maggart, who read a poem about Venice; and Westminster Elementary students. Notably absent from the podium were any of today’s Venice muralists.

A canvas replica of the mural was hung above the front door of the post office and was unveiled at the end of the program. In addition, the Venice cancellation stamp, which hasn’t been seen for a few years, was used to hand cancel envelopes commemorating the event.

Edward Biberman was a noted authority on murals in his day. He became an advocate of public art after becoming acquainted with the great Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco. However, the Venice mural is the only one of his that is currently on display. He also painted two murals in the old Los Angeles federal building which have been in storage since the building was dismantled.

The muralist was the brother of Herbert Biberman, the Hollywood screenwriter and director who was blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten. Despite the blacklist, Herbert Biberman directed the classic film, Salt of the Earth, about a New Mexico miners strike. The blacklist also affected Edward Biberman, who lost work because of the notoriety about his brother.

Howard Fast, once the most read author in the world, wrote a forward to Biberman’s 1953 art book, The Best Untold. A film, Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman, was released in 2006. The artist died in 1986.

–Jim Smith

Posted: Sat - December 1, 2007 at 07:21 PM