Tuesday, July 25, 2017
WPA artists of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area, part 2: Lenore Thomas, Hugh Collins, and Joseph Goethe
Above: From left to right - Lenore Thomas, Hugh Collins, Joseph Goethe, and a fourth man whose name I don't know (he might be Carmelo Aruto, a local craftsman). These artists are working on a WPA project - a set of concrete animals to be placed at the Langston Terrace public housing development playground, in Washington, DC. The photo was taken in 1940, and provided courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: Another shot of the four artists at work. A Washington Post article described this project as a commission and "a result of a competition held among artists employed by the District Art Unit of the WPA. The selections were made by a jury composed of officials of the WPA and the [United States Housing Authority]" ("WPA Artists Completing Langston Sculptures," September 1, 1940). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: This picture, in the community building of Greenbelt, Maryland, shows Lenore Thomas sculpting one of her several bas reliefs on the building, ca. 1937. The reliefs depict various parts of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. A nearby exhibit label reads, "Lenore Thomas sculpted the friezes on the front of the Center Elementary School, now the Greenbelt Community Center. Given complete freedom to choose her subject matter, she chose the preamble to the constitution. She believed that American school children needed to learn about the foundations of their country and political system." Lenore Thomas lived in Accokeek, Maryland (Prince George's County) during this time period. Photo by Brent McKee, 2011.
Above: Lenore Thomas's bas relief, "Insure Domestic Tranquility," as it appears today. Notice that Thomas removed the trucks and cows from her final product. Photo by Brent McKee, 2011.
Above: Hugh Collins lived on Naylor Road, SE, Washington, D.C., while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1939. On February 16, 1936, the Washington Post reported: "Watercolors by Hugh Collins are being shown in the Public Library on New York Avenue until February 29. Washington and scenic spots in Maine are the subjects of Collins' paintings" ("Notes on Current Art Exhibitions," p. AA5). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: Joseph Goethe lived in Washington, D.C. while he was in the WPA's Federal Art Project, ca. 1939-1940. After the New Deal years, Goethe moved to California and became a prominent sculptor (he was featured in California newspapers throughout the 1940s, 50, and 60s). Photo courtesy of the National Archives.
Above: The finished sculptures of Thomas, Collins, and Goethe, at Langston Terrace playground. This photo is from documents on file at the National Register of Historic Places and was probably taken in the 1980s. As the project was nearing completion in 1940, the children of Langston Terrace immediately took to their new playground sculptures / climbing toys, as Hugh Collins noted: "The kids didn't have to be told what the animals were for. We had to pull them off in order to finish our work" ("WPA Artists Completing Langston Sculptures," Washington Post, September 1, 1940, p. A7).