Sunday, January 24, 2016
New Deal Art: Shoveling snow in New York City
Above: "Snow Shovellers," an oil painting by Jacob Getlar Smith (1898-1958), created while he was in the New Deal's Public Works of Art Project, 1934. The description for this painting reads, "Many artists went out into the cold to find subjects after the PWAP began in December 1933. Jacob Getlar Smith found men hired by the government’s new work relief program, the Civil Works Administration, to shovel snow from the streets and park paths of New York. Some of the snow shovellers sport crisp fedoras and warm overcoats while others wear battered caps and ragged coats; some have practical boots while others wear shoes more suited to office work. Men used to physical labor stride along vigorously; those accustomed to sitting behind desks walk more slowly, bowed with weariness after a morning spent clearing snow. Black and white, poor and middle class—all had lost their jobs to the Great Depression. Smith showed them gathered into the ranks of the New Deal social programs that offered them all the means to get through the winter. A boy pulling a sled walks alongside the men, a reminder of the families who looked to these men for their support." Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.