Muskegon Museum of Art announce 1934. A New Deal for Artists

The Muskegon Museum of Art presents 1934: A New Deal for Artists an exhibition on view February 16th through May 6th 2012.


Lily Furedi, Subway 1934 Oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The 55 paintings in 1934: A New Deal for Artists are drawn from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s unparalleled collection of artworks created for the PWAP and form a visual record of America in 1934—the worst year of the Great Depression. The 1934 exhibition was requested from the Smithsonian for the MMA’s 100th Year exhibition roster as a fitting complement to the MMA’s collection, particularly one of its best-known paintings, Tornado Over Kansas. The great American Regionalist painter John Steuart Curry created this painting in 1929 at the beginning of the Depression. MMA director Frank Atwood Almy purchased it in 1935, on the cusp of that historic moment in time.

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 height of the Depression are some of art history’s finest testaments to American life and its can-do pioneer spirit.

The Muskegon Museum of Art presents 1934: A New Deal for Artists as part of a comprehensive program in collaboration with Grand Valley State University. The GVSU Art Gallery, Allendale campus, has organized a special exhibition, Regionalism and the Art of the WPA: Selections from the Muskegon Museum of Art, to be presented at the GVSU Art Gallery from January 16 through March 23, 2012. Additionally, several programs scheduled to coincide with both exhibitions feature GVSU faculty, staff, and students, and are open to both GVSU students and the general public.

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 presentation is sponsored by the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and Grand Valley State University. Programming is made possible through a grant from the support from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and through additional support from Grand Valley State University; the Our Daily Lives, Our Daily Work Program at MSU; and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Media sponsors are WGVU Public Radio and the Muskegon Chronicle.

Muskegon Museum of Art 296 W. Webster Avenue Muskegon, Michigan 49440 P: 231.720.2570 F:231.720.2585 www.muskegonartmuseum.org announces

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