The Lost Legacy of 1930's Regionalism, the WPA, and a new people's art: Where are today's rural American artists?

Portoluz presents a talk with Dan Brinkmeier, farmer and rural artist, as part of its year-long series W.P.A. 2.0., a brand new deal, Tuesday, October 11, at the LillStreet Art Center, 4401 N. Ravenswood, at 6 p.m. Donations are accepted.

During the 1930s, the hardships of the economic depression, political upheaval and labor conflict, and social change were challenged head-on by Regionalist painters through other activist forms of artistic expression, which fostered the WPA and a national public art movement. Visual art was used as an instrument of attack, instruction, and inspiration, and was based in our country’s rural heritage and traditions.

In today’s America, we also face similar challenges to our way of life; and yet, where         are the visual artists who will depict themes that not only celebrate the strengths that define our country, both urban and rural, but also serve to show the reality of how people live in the “forgotten country” of rural America and the social change that has taken place there? Who will give us a new “people’s art?” Dan Brinkmeier is an artist, educator, and farmer who still works with his family on a small cattle farm in Northwestern Illinois.   

The Federal Art Project was one of the divisions of the W.P.A. created under Federal Project One. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had made several attempts prior to the F.A.P. to provide employment for artists on relief, namely the Public Works of Art Project (P.W.A.P.) which operated from 1933 to 1934 and the Treasury Department Section of Painting and Sculpture which was created in 1934 after the demise of the P.W.A.P. However, it was the F.A.P. which provided the widest reach, creating over 5,000 jobs for artists and producing over 225,000 works of art for the American people.