It lasted only six months but the spirit of FDR’s 1934 Public Works of Art Project lives on. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the PWAP, the first federal government program to support the arts nationally, the Smithsonian American Art Museum curated an exhibition of 56 paintings created for the program. Urban and rural, street scenes, portraits and landscapes, these artworks were displayed in schools, libraries, post offices, museums, and government buildings. The traveling exhibition, 1934: A New Deal for Artists, is currently on view at the Chazen Museum of Art at University of Wisconsin-Madison, February 16-April 28, 2013. Next stop: Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa (September 28-January 5, 2014).
At the Chazen, a number of Roosevelt-inspired films from 1934 will be shown in conjunction with the exhibition including “Stand Up and Cheer,” the movie that made Shirley Temple a star. (Plot: President Roosevelt names a brash Broadway producer as the country’s first “Secretary of Amusement.” Facing antagonistic lobbyists, he enlists a father-daughter act who wows the nation. ) And the anti-fascist comic thriller “The President Vanishes” where the president stages his own kidnapping to delay the war mongers’ plans.