"The Invasion," by Charles Reiffel


This work is a vertical view of the County Administration Center (CAC) in its early years (late 1930's, early 1940's), with a bustling pre-Colonial Native American village scene of agriculture and trade in the lower foreground.  In the midground, a vista towards the CAC fades to the hills showing San Diego as a thriving, growing city. This is a statement of optimism captured in the architecture of the CAC and the social optimism of San Diego's WPA artists, such as Reiffel, who played an integral role in the design of the building.  Note the forward looking progress of time as it relates to the city's early inhabitants which calls to symbolically look upwards to the future of San Diego as represented in modernity. The philosophical focal point of this optimism is the Civic Center, which is the former name of the CAC.  This painting is a tangible and fine example of the belief in civic unity, which underlies many of the commissions of the WPA artists in civic buildings throughout the United States. Also of connection to other WPA works in civic buildings is the positive and uplifting use of regionalism, native roots, and the progress of civic life through the hands of men as exemplified in agriculture, architecture and industry.  Ironically, the title "The Invasion,”  calls into question just what or who was invading and may possibly be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the social optimism of the prescribed WPA style.

Location: County Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway, 3rd Floor, Board of Supervisors Library

Details: 42" X 48", 7/25/38, Asset #82275