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Stamford, CT New Deal Art


American Rhythm (1934) -oil on canvas 22’3″ wide x 8’3″ high by James H. Daugherty (1887-1974)


formerly located in the Stamford High School, Music Room; was on display at the MCA Music Corporation main offices in Santa Monica, CA, but currently is on display at the University of Connecticut

Stamford High School – announcement

September 27, 1998 New York Times about Daugherty’s WPA work

Exerpt from MCA Music Corp letter: “American Rhythm” – The Road Traveled. The Road Ahead

In l934, in the depths of the Depression, a prominent artist named James Daugherty was commissioned by F.D.R.s cultural development agency, the U.S. Works Progress Administration (WPA). to execute a mural for the music room at Stamford High School in Connecticut.

In the early 1970′s, the school was being refurbished and the mural was ripped from the walls and tossed in the trash. Fortunately, a young man on his bicycle spotted this huge canvas, investigated, and informed his parents, who immediately called authorities in Washington. D.C. The mural was turned over to a restorer, who spent the next thirteen years conserving the work.

Having developed an interest in the struggles of the artists of the WPA movement, I was intrigued when I heard the story of this masterpiece three years ago. Seeing this mural, depicting American musicians from all walks of life, lying in pieces on the floor of a warehouse, I felt compelled to do whatever I could to restore the painting to its original condition.

Coming within a hairs breadth of being lost to the world. “American Rhythm” has been revived. This 8 foot high by 22-foot long slice of American cultural history now graces the lobby of our main office in Santa Monica, on permanent display, welcoming all who visit.

In quality, the painting stands alongside the works of Daugherty contemporaries from Diego Rivera to Thomas Hart Benton – not only as a landmark of its era, hut as a timeless expression of the artist’s vision, depicting the diversity and magic of music to the people of America. Most importantly, the painting endures as an expression of Americas commitment to music, from Native American ceremonies to metropolitan orchestras – it reflects the spirit and soul of our artists and staff in its celebration of music.

With my best wishes,
Jay Boberg
President, MCA Music Corporation