Art for Everyone: WPA in Westport

Wednesday, Apr 10, 2013 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Pageant of Juvenile Literature 

Learn about the rich history of the Federal Art Project in Westport. Stemming from President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935, the project employed thousands of artists to create commissioned works for schools, libraries and public buildings. Speakers will include Eve Potts, former Chairman of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection/WPA Art Rescue Committee, Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection, and Ann Sheffer of the Arts Advisory Committee and the Betty R. and Ralph Sheffer Foundation. Discover the fascinating story of how these public art treasures were lost and found, from the beginnings of the WPA Art Rescue Committee to the collection’s present status as part of Westport Public School’s Permanent Art Collection. Presented in conjunction with the Fairfield Museum and History Center.

"The art of the Depression era, commonly known as WPA Art, has been called an American Renaissance by some and scoffed at as propagandist art by others. Often realistic, historical and sentimental, the works produced during this time still stimulate fierce debate. Whatever the view, it is safe to say that something important happened during that time and Westport was an integral part of that scene.

Seventeen Westport artists were put to work from 1934 to 1937. They produced 34 artworks and approximately 120 photographs. All the materials, the framing and placing of the murals, the casting of the sculptures and the film for the photographs cost Westport a total of $3,020. Henrietta Cholmeley-Jones who was appointed local supervisor received one dollar per year."

-Eve Potts, Connecticut Historic Commission

Above: "Pageant of Juvenile Literature" by Robert Lambdin, 1934; now hangs in The Great Hall of the Westport Library

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