Jan. 31, 2012
Feeling a little pessimistic about the state of American politics these days? In February, a San Francisco art gallery can help you return to the days of the New Deal.
“The Public Works of Sargent Johnson, Photographed by Duane Conliffe” will be the featured exhibit at the Canessa Gallery from Jan. 29 to Feb. 24. The gallery is located at 708 Montgomery Street, and the opening night reception runs from 5 until 9 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 2.
Sargent Johnson (1888-1967) was one of the first African American artists in California to achieve a national reputation. In the 1930s, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Federal Art Project put thousands of artists to work creating more than 200,000 separate pieces of art during the Great Depression, according to the Canessa website.
Most of these artworks, now in the public domain, are little seen. The Canessa website says that public response to recent exhibits has been phenomenal.
Conliffe, an East Bay digital photographic artist, will be on hand Thursday at Canessa to discuss his work and interpretation of Johnson. Jon Golinger will discuss the initiative to protect Coit Tower, and Harvey Smith, president of the National New Deal Preservation Society, will host the reception and interpret his WPA Sawhorse.
In addition to the opening night activities, there are four other events scheduled in conjunction with the exhibit: "First Friday" in North Beach and three Salons on the remaining Thursdays in February.
From the Canessa website:
Through the Federal Art Project, thousands of artists in San Francisco and throughout the nation were put to work creating more than 200,000 separate pieces of art during the Great Depression. We encourage Bay Area curators, New Deal activists and historians to take advantage of this rare, informal opportunity to share with one another your views and knowledge of the sculptures, posters drawings, photographs, murals, paintings and other artistic treasures created through the Federal Art Project. Many of these artworks have been out of the public eye or in storage since the 1940s. We hope that this informal salon discussion will be a prelude to organizing a major exhibit to honor and present these “lost” treasures —and the momentous and significant time in history that they represent.
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