Walker Galleries A & B
This nationally touring exhibition celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Public Works of Art Project by drawing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum's unparalleled collection of vibrant artworks created for the program.
In 1934, Americans grappled with an economic crisis that feels all too familiar today. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt's administration created the Public Works of Art Project-the first federal government program to support the arts nationally. The program enlisted artists all across America to paint murals and canvases depicting "the American Scene" for display in public buildings. Regional subjects, including labor and leisure, city and rural life, nature and people, reminded the public of quintessential American values of hard work, community, and optimism.
Though the PWAP was short-lived-it lasted from December 1933 to June 1934-the works of art created with government support by grateful artists during the worst year of the Depression are some of art history's finest testaments to American life and its can-do pioneer spirit. 1934: A New Deal for Artists celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Public Works of Art Project with 55 paintings drawn from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's unparalleled collection of artworks created for the program.
1934 celebrates another anniversary as well-the MMA's 100th year. The exhibition is a fitting complement to one our finest "pictures of the best kind" and one of the greatest American-art icons: John Steuart Curry's Tornado Over Kansas. Painted by Curry in 1929 at the beginning of the Depression, it was purchased by MMA director Frank Atwood Almy in 1935, on the cusp of this historic moment in time.
1934: A New Deal for Artists is organized and circulated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with support from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund and the Smithsonian Council for American Art. The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the Smithsonian American Art Museum's traveling exhibition program, Treasures to Go. This exclusive Michigan showing of 1934: A New Deal for Artists is locally underwritten by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and Grand Valley State University. Major program support for 1934: A New Deal for Artists is also provided through a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support is provided through the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and media sponsor The Muskegon Chronicle.
Runs February 16-May 6, 2012