History Center to exhibit and restore renowned landscape art by San Diego Depression-era painters

San Diego, Calif.—San Diego History Center (SDHC) will showcase rare, Depression-era paintings by renowned San Diego landscape painters in a special exhibition in SDHC’s Local Treasures Gallery titled, LANDSCAPES REDISCOVERED: Depression-era San Diego Paintings. The exhibition opens September 7.

These landscape paintings, by renowned San Diego artists Charles Reiffel, Maurice Braun, and others, have been in the possession of the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) for decades and largely unseen by the public for as long. Through a partnership with the two institutions, SDHC will display these works to the public once again.

Originally, some of the paintings to be exhibited were commissioned by the federal government’s Works Progress Administration program during the Great Depression to beautify San Diego’s public spaces like post offices, schools, and administration buildings, and all feature familiar San Diego locations like Mt. Cuyamaca, Point Loma, and Mission Hills.


Over the years—and for myriad reasons—the paintings had been moved, rehung, stored and, as such, received blemishes from over 70 years of exposure to various elements and temperatures. Through a partnership with SDUSD, the History Center will display the paintings “as is” for the public. To complement the exhibit SDHC will begin a campaign for the conservation and restoration of these historically significant works of art. SDHC and SDUSD will also work collaboratively to create programs aimed to educate school children about the legacies of the artists.

“These paintings are a precious gift to the History Center as well as to the community and represents a significant contribution to our extensive collection of San Diego art,” said the History Center’s Acting Executive Director, Charlotte Cagan.
“This partnership has culminated in a successful collaboration between SDUSD and the San Diego History Center,” said Karen Childress-Evans, Ed.D, Director of the San Diego Unified School District’s Visual and Performing Arts. “This valuable and rich collection of historic artwork, once hidden, is now accessible to the people of San Diego, young and old, to enjoy.”

San Diego History Center, which also operates the Junípero Serra Museum in Presidio Park, is dedicated to helping people of all ages learn about, and enjoy, the history of San Diego, and to appreciate how our past, present, and future are interrelated. The History Center was founded in 1928 and is one of the oldest and largest historical organizations in California. It is one of only a handful of institutions nationwide that is dedicated to celebrating the heritage of a major American city.
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