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Where are the state’s New Deal art treasures?

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE – What’s the deal with New Mexico’s New Deal art? We have a whole lot of it – and should have even more.
Back during the Great Depression, from 1933 to 1943, the U.S. government had some honking big jobs programs. You’ve probably heard of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. There also were programs to employ thousands of artists nationwide. Being a favorite spot for artists, New Mexico had a big share of those programs.
In New Mexico, a committee of well-known artists was chosen to travel the state interviewing artists and inspecting their art.
The artists chosen produced murals, paintings, photographs, furniture, dishes, wrought iron fixtures, copper items, weavings and other decorative items.
The pieces were not purchased. The artists were paid a regular weekly salary, depending on their level of expertise, to produce more art. Since the artists worked for the government, their work belonged to the government.
It was placed in public buildings throughout the state.
Almost every school building had at least one piece of art. In addition, art was placed in all manner of other public buildings, including court houses, libraries, post offices, county and municipal buildings and universities.


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