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Paintings Outside New York

Relics Skagway Alaska

While many artists employed under the Federal Art Project painted pictures of scenery local to their residences, there were some exceptions. Artists would occasionally look outside of New York for inspiration. Some paintings of the Federal Art Project were based on or influenced by historically relevant locations.

As the 1930s were a tumultuous time of ecological disaster, artists saw the importance of showcasing the natural beauty of the United States. This juxtaposition served as a “call-to-action” of sorts, people don’t want treasured landscapes to disappear. Paintings with particularly sentimental American characteristics are relatable, and develop a sense of identity. Included in the Allocations collection are paintings which display a range of locations from the eastern coast of Maine all the way over to the western coast of Alaska. FAP artists saw the importance of showcasing a variety of “American experiences,” despite the fact that the artists themselves primarily lived in New York City.

Artist Ferdinand Lo Pinto had a personal interest in the Alaskan Gold Rush of the late 19th century. He captured scenes of mills, rivers, and small towns in Alaska. His paintings captured a fascinating time period during which Americans of many backgrounds congregated to the same region. Additionally, Lo Pinto made artistic contributions towards Merle Colby's, A Guide to Alaska Last American Frontier. Thousands of people flocking to “The Last Frontier” to sift through dirt with the central goal of becoming rich from gold, is an incredibly American display. Showcasing the multiplicity of American experiences was a common goal for many FAP artists. Another artist, Vladimir Morosoff, painted scenes of lighthouses and massive ships sailing in and out of ports in Maine. Morosoffs paintings display the flow of people in and out of the United States.

Beyond coastlines, entire ecosystems are collapsing in the arctic, permafrost is melting, and glaciers are rapidly decreasing in volume. Despite the cliche that New Yorkers aren't concerned with the world beyond the Hudson river, climate warming is a global phenomenon, and many of the locations represented by the NDG painters are being transformed, and threatened by a changing climate. 

Works Consulted

—Colby, Merle. A Guide to Alaska Last American Frontier. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1939, print. Accessed at archive.org.

Paintings Outside New York