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Charles Surendorf II Art Foundation


Invest in today’s students.

Welcome to the 2021/22 Charles F. Surendorf II Art Foundation 

In 1934, during the recovery of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt created the WPA program to put people back to work. It was successful in the sense that roads, bridges, and buildings were built. For Cindy’s father, even more important was being hired for the WPA to create art for libraries, such as a mural that was done in Indiana, and propaganda and scenic art block prints that were distributed to 50 libraries throughout the country. The program allowed 50 prints off of each block for distribution, and then the blocks were destroyed so the artist would not be able to profit beyond for what he was paid. Until 1968, no blocks were known to have survived.

In 1968, Cindy was living with her father in Columbia, California. A very old woman drove up to their home asking for Charles. The three of them sat in the living room, and she pulled out three wood blocks from her purse. She began to explain: “I worked for the federal government during the WPA era. I was in charge of distribution of the art and to make sure that everything was done correctly.” The woman began to tear up. “I am sorry, Mr. Surendorf, that I had to destroy your blocks. I put these in my lunch bag and vowed before I died I would return them to you.” 

As my father was handed the wood blocks, Cindy saw tears falling from his eyes. They hugged. No other words were spoken. The unknown woman got into her car and left. Their paths never again crossed.

Charles made a few prints from each block, but he held a certain fear about the Federal Government. Cindy saw that fear come into play as Charlie’s alcoholism increased. During the Martin Luther King riots, he called the White House and offered to paint the president’s dwelling black. Three FBI agents appeared on his front door the following morning. Charlie’s colorful life continued to his death in 1979. 

All his blocks were destroyed in a house fire in 1985. What remains of his work are prints. The prints that were in the fifty libraries were either discarded, ended up in the museums listed here, or acquired by private collections.

Help bring back Charlie's work to Tuolumne County and also support all the arts that are offered today in Tuolumne County.  Supporting the TCA and their mission is a major request as funds are not always available.  We rely on everyone to step up and support all the arts and our future generations.  Follow TCA at their new location downtown Sonora in the old Sonora Inn Building.

2018 Gala Fund Raiser

   Recent Activity
peter linenthal donated $300 on 9/14/2021
Now more important than ever, kids need hands-on art experiences.
Wendy Myers donated $100 on 9/14/2021
Teaching children to use their voices through art is a key to civil society and also encourages them to be fully who God made them.
anonymous donated $500 on 12/23/2020
°|• donated $1000 on 11/27/2020
Peter Gierke donated $2000 on 12/2/2019
Such wonderful, important work you do! Thank you
maria mccormick donated $21.01 on 11/30/2019
Wendy Myers donated $225 on 9/9/2019
Meta Bunse donated $775 on 6/25/2019
The Bunse family is proud to support the foundation's efforts in the Mother Lode.
Peter G donated $500 on 12/31/2018
BZ, the Story Gal, & Jof, the Wonder Man donated $300 on 6/20/2018
So grateful to have Charles as an integral part of our arts and culture community in the Sierra Foothills.
Dolora donated $100 on 12/11/2017
David Wynne donated $200 on 12/10/2017
Love ,my Surendorfs
Starley Moore donated $100 on 12/10/2017
Karen Scruggs donated $100 on 12/3/2017
Karen Scruggs donated $200 on 12/1/2017
Look forward to St. Annes & State Street
Cindy Surendorf donated $10 on 11/22/2017
Testing on the first $10 for this wonderful event!