WPA Art Centers
One of the great gifts of the
WPA art program was the creation of community art centers. Although most
of these centers ceased operation when government funding ended, many of
them evolved into local art museums and centers that continue to this date.
This list is extremely incomplete but may help give you an idea of the
widespread popularity of the WPA art center. If anyone has information
about other centers, please email me so that I can expand this list!
The Phoenix, AZ WPA Art Center was created
in 1936. (http://www.phxart.org/collection/farewell.asp)
The South Side Community Art Center, 3831 South Michigan Avenue,
Chicago, IL never ceased operation. It is the only WPA art center which
has continued as it was created by the WPA in December 1940. (http://www.wpamurals.com/southside.html)
The Mary Buie Museum in Oxford, Mississippi
began as a WPA Community Art Center from 1939-1942. (http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/jah/86.1/rs_42.html)
Founded in 1942 with the help of a WPA grant,
the People's Art Center was the first integrated community arts center
in St. Louis, MO. (http://www.umsl.edu/~whmc/guides/whm0612.htm)
- New Mexico
In Roswell, NM the Roswell Museum and Art
Center was established in 1937 as a WPA art center. Located at: 100 West
11th Street Roswell, NM 88201 (http://www.roswellmuseum.org)
- New York
The Harlem Community Art Center operated from
1937 to 1942. This WPA-sponsored art center was directed by Augusta Savage
and later, Gwendolyn Bennett. It is considered by many to have been the
best of all the WPA art centers, one of the centers of the "Harlem
It started out as the "WPA Experimental
Art Gallery" in 1936 and evolved into the Oklahoma Art Center, located
in Oklahoma City.
- South Carolina
In South Carolina there were five WPA art
centers set up in Columbia, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort and Walterboro,
SC. The Columbia Federal Art Project Demonstration Gallery, the state's
first WPA/FAP community art center, opened in December 1935. (http://people.clemson.edu/~hiotts/text/wpafap.htm)
The Spokane WPA Art Center was founded in
1938. It established a reputation for the quality of its exhibitions and
"Art in Action: American Art Centers and the New Deal"
edited by John Franklin White, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. (Metuchen, NJ;
© 2005 Nancy Lorance
All Rights Reserved.