Davenport, Iowa (September 25, 2013) – The Great Depression had widespread and devastating effects all over the United States. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50% and unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%. It was a time of vast economic suffering that was difficult to describe.
A brand-new exhibition opening at the Figge Art Museum on Saturday literally paints a picture of what it was like to live during that time. 1934: A New Deal for Artists is a selection of 55 paintings from the first federally-funded art program, The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), and is organized and circulated by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The PWAP was established in December 1933 and conceived as part of the New Deal–a series of economic recovery programs introduced by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression as a way to help bolster the spirit and morale of a depressed nation. The works provide a lasting impression of America during 1934.
Over the course of seven months, the PWAP employed 3,749 artists and commissioned more than 15,000 works of art to adorn schools, libraries and other public buildings. Even the White House displayed a selection of works handpicked by President Roosevelt and the First Lady, seven of which will be included in the exhibition.
The images in the exhibition range from intimate portraits of local men, women and children to romanticized landscapes and everyday scenes of labor and industry. Particular emphasis was placed on conveying the values of community and hard work associated with the nation during the Great Depression.
The PWAP ended in June 1934 but proved to be an enormous success that paved the way for later New Deal art programs, including the more famous Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project. During the 1960s, hundreds of these PWAP paintings were transferred to the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
1934: A New Deal for Artists is sponsored locally by John Deere, Genesis and Xenotronics and will be on display in the third floor gallery through January 5, 2014.
Murals and More FREE Family Day
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, September 28
Celebrate the can-do attitude that helped pull America through the Depression of the 1930s. Progressive mural painting, clay sculpting, story time, gallery searches and more will entertain and enrich families.
1930s Music Night
7 p.m. Thursday, October 17
Musician Paul Cloe will play 1930s music live in the lobby and will give a talk about the music.
1:30 p.m. Sundays in October
1:30 p.m. Saturdays in November (except 11/2)
5:30 p.m. Thursday, November 7
Exclusive members-only reception with co-curator Ann Prentice Wagner. Not a member? Join today by contacting Amy Martens at 563.345.6638 or
7 p.m. Thursday, November 7
Presenter: Ann Prentice Wagner, exhibition co-curator
About the Figge Art Museum
The Figge Art Museum is located on the riverfront in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and Sundays 12-5 p.m. Thursdays the museum is open until 9 p.m. Admission to the museum and tour is $7. Admission is free to Figge members and institutional members and free to all on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit www.figgeartmuseum.org.