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.
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 Renaissance”. (http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/Colleges/ARHU/Depts/ArtGal/.WWW/exhibit/98-99/driskell/exhibition/sec3/sava_a_02.htm)
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 artists. (http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/engard65.htm)
“Art in Action: American Art Centers and the New Deal”
edited by John Franklin White, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. (Metuchen, NJ; 1987)