Pommer, Julius Tanzer - View In Astoria Cassara, Frank  - Drillers Markow, Jack - Forgotten Cow
Markow, Jack-  Business Mens Lunch Nooney, Ann  - Flower Workers Pont , Charles - Bending A Topsl

- Introduction and Essay -           - Exhibition Information -         - Images of the Works -



This exhibition features 40 fine art prints produced by more than 30 artists who worked within the printmaking programs of the Federal Arts Project of the Works Projects Administration. The prints are part of the personal collection of John A. Stewart, the founder and director of the Amity Arts Foundation of Woodbridge, CT. They are but a tiny fraction of his collection of American prints from the first half of the twentieth century. WPA prints offer examples of both the methods and philosophies of hand produced populist prints that visually communicate important messages for both the artist and the observer. Some of the artists in this exhibit are reasonably well-known, others much less so and others are known only by the existence of prints they produced while working in the WPA.

The Amity Art Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit corporation created to promote, perpetuate and preserve the arts with an emphasis on traditional graphic art techniques. The Foundation's emphasis is twenty first century printmaking and supporting, encouraging, and promoting student and emerging artists that produce art that is consistent with the methods and philosophies of traditional printmaking. The Foundation sponsors portfolio exchanges, exhibitions, juried shows, fine art collections, educational programs, catalogue raisonnes and other such activities in an effort to increase awareness of and partici­pation in the arts. The Foundation participates in printmaking conferences and exhibitions across the country.


WPA Printmaking
by John A. Stewart

The Great Depression beginning was marked by the U.S. stock market crash of October 29, 1929. Lasting until this country's entrance into World War II it was a period of economic and industrial collapse severely impacting all sectors of the American people.

Frank Delano Roosevelt was elected president in 1932. Twenty five percent of American workers were unem­ployed and others faced wage cuts of upwards of forty percent. "One third of the nation was ill-housed, ill-clad, and ill-nourished." (FDR, inaugural address) He proposed and Congress enacted a New Deal economic program to revive the nation and to put people back to work. "Simple work" he argued gave people money "however, more important than the material gains will be the moral and spiritual value of such work." (FDR, message to Congress).

Through a series of programs the Works Progress Administration was created to put people back to work, not just busy work but work as closely related to the workers' private sector jobs. Bridges were built. Dams con­structed. Public buildings such as post offices were modernized and decorated. Public parks were created and a Federal road system was conceived and implemented.

In 1935 the WPA/Federal Arts Project was founded to put artists to work. Artists of all types were put on the public payroll to create art. Filmmakers made films. Poets created poetry. Writers wrote books and plays. Actors, dancers and directors held performances. Painters painted. Sculptors sculpted. And, yes, printmakers made prints. The FAP employed 5,000 artists, who created among other things an estimated 108,000 paintings, 18,000 sculptures, 2,500 public murals and 250,000 prints. The approximate cost of the FAP was $35 million dollars.

In addition to providing work for artists the FAP set four goals: (1) employ artists, (2) educate art students, (3) expand art programs into rural areas and (4) conduct research into and record America's cultural past.

Beginning with a workshop in New York City, printmaking workshops were established around the country. To be eligible to participate, an artist had to be certified as needy and prove that he/she had formerly been an artist. There was no discrimination in the program. Men and women of all ethnic backgrounds, artistic styles and proficiency were accepted. Segregation, where practiced, however, continued. Artists were paid approxi­mately $2.00 a day.

The FAP print programs were active from 1935 through 1943. A printmaker would produce a proof, which would be approved by the workshop director before an edition was run, based on how popular the image might be. Few editions were as high as 75 and many if not a majority were under 25. All art with the exceptions of a proof or two retained by the artist were considered property of the Federal government and were to be used for public purposes; to decorate government offices and other public buildings.

Although there was some level of artistic freedom, the subjects chosen for the artwork reflected the democratic ideal. Scenes from American life, both urban and rural, depict the common man at work and at play. Regional sensitivities were reflected in the workshops around the country. The works were populist and often emphasized the value of industry and hard work.

Although most printing mediums were employed to produce prints, great technical progress was achieved within the workshops with color lithography, color woodcuts and serigraphy. The opportunities to develop these newer techniques in well-equipped public workshops enabled these mediums especially stone lithography to become more prominent. The skills learned in these workshops helped to change the course of printmaking in the twenti­eth century.

The General Service Administration identifies 1,114 printmakers that produced prints during the program. An estimated 11,300 different images were produced. Some of the artists remained within the program for lengthy peri­ods of time. Other artists were in the program to produce a print or two only to drop out of the program. It can be anticipated that not all the artists who participated can be identified or that all the prints produced survived.

Some of the artists became well known and had distinguished art careers following the FAP. Others were virtual unknowns at the time and details of their lives and work are lost. At the onset of World War II many of the artists were in the armed services, some as combat artists or illustrators, others as camouflage painters and others as regular combat GI's.

The art produced by the Graphic Arts Division of the FAP was not well preserved after the program ended. Some was inadvertently destroyed, some was lost and some used for scrap paper for public employees or in prisons. The General Services Administration still makes claims on private collectors that prints produced during the FAP period are government property.

Contemporary printmakers owe a great debt to the printmakers of the WPA. Not only were techniques developed that are widely used today but the foundations for the community of printmaking and printmakers was estab­lished. Printmakers came together to work together and to learn. Workshops were created that set an example of the collective and collaborative art production that are reflected in the academic print departments and the print workshops that exist today.

Exhibition Information

40 framed prints by various artists
a brochure will be available

Loan Fee:
price on request

Dates Available: 
2008 - 20010

Exhibitor responsible

Exhibitor responsible

Jeffrey Landau
Tel: 310-397-3098
Fax: 310-397-3018
Landau Traveling Exhibitions
3615 Moore St.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Web site: www.a-r-t.com
E mail: info@a-r-t.com




- click on image for larger view -

Frank Besedick:

-Born in 1913 Hamilton Ohio, died in 1987 Cincinatti Ohio, lived and died in Ohio. 
-Exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
-3 prints in the Newark Museum.
-Was in the program from 1938-1940 dividing his time between the two organzations
-WPA New York

Besedick , Frank - On Staten Island
Besedick , Frank - On Staten Island.jpg

. Julius Thiengen Bloch:

                -Born in Kehl, Baden, Germany 1888; died in Philadelphia 1966
                -4 pieces of artwork in the St. Louis Museum
                -3 prints in Philadelphia Museum of Art
                -WPA Philadelphia 1934-1938
                -Whitney Museum of American Art

Block, Julius - Sailor
Block, Julius - Sailor.jpg
Block, Julius - Sailor (with writing)
Block, Julius - Sailor (with writing).jpg
Frank Cassara:

                -Born in Partinico, Sicily, Italy 1913; died ? Ann Arbor, MI
                -WPA Detroit
                -WPA murals in Michigan and Ohio
                -1 Oil in the University of Maryland Art Gallery
                -WPA 1935-1941
Cassara, Frank  - Drillers
Cassara, Frank - Drillers.jpg
Don Freeman:

               -Born in San Diego 1908, died in New York City 1978
                -6 prints in the Philadelphia Museum of Art
                -WPA New York 1936
                -Whitney Museum of American Art
Freeman , Don - Spotlighter
Freeman , Don - Spotlighter.jpg

Minetta Good:

                -Born 1895 in New York City, died 1946 (New York City?)
                -WPA Murals, USPO, Dresden, TN
                -8 prints in the Newark Museum
                -WPA New York 1930’s

Good, Minetta  - Untitled
Good, Minetta - Untitled.jpg

Lee Hager:

                -1 print in Newark Museum

Hager, Lee  - Bowl Of Fruit
Hager, Lee - Bowl Of Fruit.jpg
Albert Heckman:

                -Born in Meadville, PA; Died in 1971 Woodstock, NY
                -1 print in Newark Museum
Heckman, Albert Heckman - Deserted Village
Heckman, Albert Heckman - Deserted Village.jpg
Riva Helfond:

                -Born in 1910 New York City, Died ?
                -5 pieces of artwork in the Newark Museum
Helfond , Riva - Resting
Helfond , Riva - Resting.jpg
William Hicks:

                -Born 1895 in Brooklyn, NY; died ?
                -2 prints in the Baltimore Museum of Art
                -WPA New York 1935-1941
Hicks, William  - March
Hicks, William - March.jpg
Ben Hoffman:

                -1 woodcut in Newark Museum and 1 in St. Louis Art Museum
                -WPA New York
Hoffman, Ben  - Children At Play
Hoffman, Ben - Children At Play.jpg
Richard Hood:

                -Born 1910 in Philadelphia; died ?
                -8 prints in the Philadelphia Museum
                -Exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution
Hood, Richard  - Sunday Shampoo
Hood, Richard - Sunday Shampoo.jpg

Edgar Imier

                    -Born:1896 Clairesville, PA; died 1973 Altoona, PA
                    -Archieved in the Newark Museum of Art
                     -Specialized in wood engraving.

Imler, Edgar - Deer Park
Imler, Edgar - Deer Park.jpg

Benjamin Kopman:

                -Born 1887 in Vitebsk, Russia; died in 1965 Teaneck, NJ
                -More than 20 solo exhibits nationally
                -1 print in the Portland Art Museum

Kopman, Benjamin  - Combing The Mistresses Hair
Kopman, Benjamin - Combing The Mistresses Hair.jpg
Alexander Kruse:

                -Born 1890 in New York City; died in 1972 in Tujunga, CA
                -Exhibited in the Grand Central Art Gallery
                -1 print in Baltimore Museum of Art
                -A contributor to the New York Post
Kruse, Alexander  - Musical Clown
Kruse, Alexander - Musical Clown.jpg
Charles Locke:

                -Born 1899 in Cincinatti, OH; died 1983 in Garrison, NY
                -WPA New York 1936
                -Whitney Museum of American Art
Locke, Charles  - At The Concert
Locke, Charles - At The Concert.jpg

Claire Mahl

                 -Born: 1927 in New York City
                  -Archived in the Baltimore Museum of Art
                  -WPA New York 1934-1939

Mah , Clairel - On Vacation
Mahl , Claire - On Vacation.jpg

Beatrice Mandelman

                -Born 1912 in Newark, NJ
                -5 prints in the Baltimore Museum and the San Francisco
                  Museum of Modern Art
                -8 pieces in the Newark Museum of Art


Mandelman, Beatrice  - Co-Houses
Mandelman, Beatrice - Co-Houses.jpg

Jack Markow:

                -Born 1905 in London, England; died 1983 in Manasquan, NJ
                -WPA New York 1936-1939
                -Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
                -14 prints in the Newark Museum

Markow, Jack - Forgotten Cow
Markow, Jack - Forgotten Cow.jpg

Jack Markow:

                -Born 1905 in London, England; died 1983 in Manasquan, NJ
                -WPA New York 1936-1939
                -Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
                -14 prints in the Newark Museum

Markow, Jack-  Business Mens Lunch
Markow, Jack- Business Mens Lunch.jpg
Archie Musick:

                -Born 1902 in Kirksville, MO; died 1978 in Colorado Springs,                   MO
                -University Of Maryland Art Gallery
                -WPA Mural, USPO, Red Cloud, NE
Musick , Archie - Chores On Pikes Peak
Musick , Archie - Chores On Pikes Peak.jpg

Ann Nooney:

                -Born 1900; died 1970 in NYC
                -WPA New York 1935-1939
                -19 prints in the Newark Museum

Nooney, Ann  - Flower Workers
Nooney, Ann - Flower Workers.jpg

Julius Pommer:

                -Born 1895 in San Francisco, CA; died 1945 San Fran.
                -WPA San Francisco


Pommer, Julius  - The Mask
Pommer, Julius - The Mask.jpg
Pommer, Julius Tanzer - View In Astoria
Pommer, Julius - Tanzer - View In Astoria.jpg

Charles E. Pont:

                -Born 1898 in St. Julien, France; died 1971
                -WPA New York 1936-1939
                -Metropolitan Museum of Art
                -11 engravings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Pont , Charles - Bending A Topsl
Pont , Charles - Bending A Topsl.jpg

Joseph Rajer:

                -New York Public library
                -Library of Congress
                -WPA New York 1935-1943
                -No personal information available

Rajer, Joseph  - Pony Cart
Rajer, Joseph - Pony Cart.jpg

Chuzo Tamotzu:

                -Born 1888 in Kagoshima, Japan; died 1975 in Santa Fe, NM
                -Worked with WPA until he was dismissed because he was not a                   U.S Citizen
                -WPA New York 1935-1937
                -11 prints in the Newark Museum of Art

Tamotzu, Chuzo  - Drinking Water
Tamotzu, Chuzo - Drinking Water.jpg
Harry Taskey:

                -Born 1892 in Rockford, IN; died 1958 in Flemington, NJ
                -10 prints in the Newark Museum of Art

Taskey, Harry  - Country Kitchen
Taskey, Harry - Country Kitchen.jpg

Theodore Wahl:

                -Born 1904 in Dillon, KS; died 1993 in Milford, NJ
                -7 prints in the Newark Museum of Art

Wahl, Theodore  - Untitled
Wahl, Theodore - Untitled.jpg

Hyman Warsager:

                -Born 1909 in NYC; died 1974 in NYC?
                -WPA New York 1935-1939
                -12 pieces in the Art Institute of Chicago

Warsager, Hyman  - Nocturne
Warsager, Hyman - Nocturne.jpg
Albert James Webb:

                -Born 1891 in NYC
                -WPA New York 1935-1940
                -21 pieces in the Newark Museum of Art

Webb, Albert James  - Market Argument
Webb, Albert James - Market Argument.jpg