Sunday, July 23, 2017

WPA artists of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area, part 1: William Dintaman, Ann Rosenbloth, and Velma Buckner

Above: William Dintaman lived on 3rd Street, NW, Washington, D.C., while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1937. This appears to be the same William Dintaman who engraved many postage stamps while employed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 1947 to 1974 (see, for example, "Arthur William Dintaman," Find A Grave, accessed July 22, 2017). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: Ann Rosenbloth lived on 28th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1937. She seems to be the same Ann Rosenbloth who is discussed in the Washington Post obituaries on December 21, 1996. It appears she worked as a WPA artist and instructor in both New York City and Washington, D.C. and, like Dintaman, worked at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (1942-1953). Perhaps they knew each other, and perhaps they even had water cooler conversations about the good ol' days in the WPA. Rosenbloth then moved on to work for the U.S. Information Agency from 1953-1966. After she retired from the federal government she worked in the advertising office of Hecht's department store from 1966 to 1970, and then "began her own company, Art Mart Show & Sell, and produced sidewalk art shows throughout the area. She also taught arts and crafts for a number of years with the D.C. Department of Recreation." I wonder if older residents of D.C. remember Ann Rosenbloth and her sidewalk art shows. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: Velma Buckner lived on Fairmont Street, NW, Washington, D.C., while she was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1936-1937. Buckner was a graduate of Dunbar High School, Howard University, and Columbia University. In 1936, while in the WPA, Buckner painted a portrait of Washington, D.C.'s Recorder of Deeds John F. Costello. It was one of 12 portraits of former recorders of deeds (see "Deed Recorder Portrait Series To Be Unveiled," Washington Post, December 13, 1936, p. M9). What happened to Buckner after this time period is a bit of a mystery; I wasn't able to find out anything about her through Internet searches or through newspaper archives. Hopefully someone who knew her will run across this blog post and let me know more about her life. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

Above: This information plaque is on the outside of the old Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds Building, at 515 D Street, NW (the Recorder of Deeds is now located at 1101 4th Street, SW). If nothing has been moved since this plaque was put on the building then, as you can see, Velma Buckner's painting is still inside. Indeed, the building seems to be a cornucopia of New Deal art - paintings, sculptures, murals, and even a bronze relief of FDR. The mural shown on the information plaque above, Shaw at Fort Wagner (a New Deal Treasury-commissioned artwork), depicts the same story told in the 1989 movie Glory, with Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington. Photo by Brent McKee, 2017.

Above: This cornerstone shows that the DC Recorder of Deeds Building was built in (or around) 1941. It was funded by the New Deal's Public Works Administration (PWA). Before 1941, the Recorder of Deeds was located in City Hall at Judiciary Square (which is very close to this building). The 1941 building is currently locked up, hopefully undergoing restoration. The building is very important to New Deal history, and the story behind the Recorder of Deeds is very important to the history of African Americans. For more information, see (1) "D.C. Recorder of Deeds moving but fate of murals unclear," Washington Post, March 11, 2010; (2) Recorder of Deeds Building, "Application for Historic Landmark or Historic District Designation," Government of the District of Columbia, Historic Preservation Office, August 4, 2011; and (3) "Location: Recorder of Deeds Building - Washington DC," The Living New Deal (all accessed July 23, 2017). Photo by Brent McKee, 2017.

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