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‘A New Deal for the Arts’: Exhibit showcases Depression-era projects

December 31, 2018

Come learn about this period in history where, for the first time, the United States Government subsidized artists in “A New Deal for the Arts: The Federal Art Project Era 1933-1943,” opening at the New Canaan Historical Society on Friday, Jan. 11.

This exhibit includes large-scale works by Justin Gruelle, George Avison, Liacita Gregg, Clifton Meek, Ralph Nelson and Ernest Albert, Jr., as well as documents, works on paper, posters and historical information. Also included are photographs of numerous important murals that have been lost or destroyed, the society said in a news release.

During the Depression of the 1930s, New Canaan experienced general, widespread unemployment and the town accepted relief from various governmental agencies set up under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Funds for artists came from both the Public Works Art Project and the Works Progress Administration. Through these programs, art was commissioned for New Canaan’s public places, including Town Hall and the public schools.

The exhibit will explore the impact the New Deal had on the development of American art, including the growth of abstraction, on the conversation that continues to this day on the role of government in supporting the arts, and on the socio-economic implications of this artwork.

Events associated with this exhibit include: a bus tour of WPA art in New Canaan and Norwalk led by art historian Ed Vollmer on Jan. 3,0 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a documentary film on the New Canaan residents who rescued and restored this art 1995-2004 followed by a conversation with Betty Branch, a member of the Town’s Commission, on Feb. 10 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.; and a discussion with Jeff Urbin, Education Specialist, FDR Presidential Library, on March 3, from 4-5 p.m.

The New Canaan Historical Society, 13 Oenoke Ridge, New Canaan. Opens Friday, Jan. 11, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. Runs through March 30. 203-918-4022, nchistory.org

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