This special art show, opening today (June 9) features 70 small, framed reproductions of posters created for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) by American artists between 1935 and 1943.
The tough economic times in the United States beginning in 2008 stimulated a renewed interest in the WPA posters of the 1930s and ’40s. As part of his New Deal program, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the WPA on May 6, 1935, in order to provide economic relief to U.S. citizens suffering through the Great Depression.
Out of the WPA came the Federal Art Project, or FAP, an organization that quickly became the nation’s primary employer of artists, musicians, actors, and writers. It provided art for buildings such as schools, hospitals, and libraries, and art education classes for both children and adults.
The administrators of the New Deal believed that art should be incorporated into the daily lives of all Americans, not just the affluent. Most posters were small in size, and each artist had his or her own signature look to the artistic rendering of public service messages. However, the posters did have several things in common: The designs were often symmetrical with the focal point being at the center, and they frequently employed diagonals and overlapping images.
The WPA posters acted as communication devices in their time, and today the rare originals sell at record prices, with the demand for copies of the surviving works having dramatically increased.
The 70 posters in the show are a sampling from the 900 currently housed at the Library of Congress, and address such topics as national parks, health, education, culture, tourism, recruitment, and wartime messages. Within these broad categories are posters promoting art exhibits, music and theatrical productions, free classes, city zoos and local points of interest, the domestic training of housewives, patriotic calls and cautions, and donations to wartime organizations.
Refreshments will be served from 4 to 7 p.m. Music will be provided by local troubadour Patrick Price, who will donate his tips to the Brookings-Harbor Community Helpers food bank.
The poster show will be available for viewing throughout June and July during office hours. For more information call 541-412-DEMS (3367).