Saturday, October 31, 2015
New Deal Art: "Jungle"... and the New Deal's triumph of art over contempt
Above: "Jungle," an oil painting by Paul Kirtland Mays (1887-1961), created while he participated in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, ca. 1933. Mays studied at several art schools and had a successful painting career before the Great Depression came along and destroyed it. The New Deal stepped in to help, giving Mays (and many like him) a modest-paying job to create art for the public. That's what the New Deal did. As opposed to the right-wing mentality that we see today--a mentality that snickers at people hurt by economic downturns, labeling them "takers" and "parasites"--the New Deal offered people opportunities.
Which approach to economic recessions do you prefer? The approach that pits citizens against one another, fostering an atmosphere of contempt, or the approach that creates beautiful art and needed infrastructure? Believe it or not, a lot of people prefer the former - and that is one of the primary reasons we don't have a New Deal today (other reasons include rampant tax evasion, free market fanaticism, weak political leadership, and campaign money--a.k.a. bribery--from millionaires & billionaires who are opposed to public jobs for the unemployed). Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.