New Deal Gallery

Dublin Core


New Deal Gallery


This collection of more than 200 paintings owes its existence to two primary causes: allocations from the Federal Art Project to a New York state tuberculosis sanatorium located at Mt. Morris--the landscapes and still lifes were thought to be restful--and to the committed volunteers who helped preserve the paintings after the hospital closed. For several decades the canvases were stored in non-climate-controlled basements; it appears that doctors and staff removed at least three dozen works as "keepsakes."

Despite the seeming tranquility of the paintings, they were created by artists primarily from New York City whose background was more political and aesthetically adventurous than this rural location would indicate. Follow this hyperlink to a short introduction to the New Deal Gallery collection. We're grateful to the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts for access to their collection, which has been re-photographed and appears here at two resolutions: a cropped, web-friendly file size of around 1 MB; and a high-resolution file including the painting's frame.

Items in this collection were created according to a consistent format: a short description of each painting in formal terms, followed by a biography of each artist. Where possible we have supplied hyperlinks relevant to their lives and to other examples of their art. In order to better view them using the Omeka program, click on the "View All" option at the bottom of this page to access various sorting options.




Cooper, Ken (project director)

Ritz, Abigail (photography and project assistant)

Additional research: Justin Anderson, Jessica Apthorpe, Jay Bang, Kristopher Bangsil, Julia Caldwell, Sydney Cannioto, Sabrina Chan, Paige Closser, Victoria Domon, Elana Evenden, Yadelin Fernandez, Michael Griffin, Madison Jackson, Niamh McCrohan, Ben Michalak, Ricky Noel, Elizabeth Ramsay, Skye Rose, Samantha Schmeer, John Serbalik, Marianna Sheedy, Emily Spina, Alison Stern, Ravenna VanOstrand, and Nicholas Vanamee.

Special thanks to: Deborah Bump, Mark Calicchia, Elizabeth Harris, Melissa Moody, Rebecca Lomuto, and Mai Sato.

Collection Items

High in the Tree Tops
We’re asked to adopt a perspective almost never accessible to humans: near the top of a tree, at close proximity to parrots. A light wash of cloudy white and blue in the background encloses the birds; their distinctive colors echo those of the tree’s…

The Gift
Four children encounter each other upon a path in Central Park, the city skyline silhouetted against a colorful sky. Two older—and, judging from their clothing, apparently wealthier—children accept a flower offered by a young girl holding a larger…

Lilies and Shell
It’s possible that the flowers depicted in this still life are wild mountain lilies (Lilium auratum), also called the golden-rayed lily of Japan. Whatever the case, flowers’ size and colorful radials draw our attention inward—which is similar in…

Vase of Asters
In a darkened room, light dramatically illuminates an arrangement of flowers and dried oak leaves in a simple white vase. The leaf shapes and Sharp’s brushwork create a flamelike appearance, albeit in a more muted color palette—even the bouquet’s…

April Day #1
From just the other side of a split rail fence, we look downhill to a pasture and then patchwork of fields in the valley below. A stream cuts across diagonally and passes under a covered bridge; a horse and foal stand in the foreground, with sheep…

Yellow Bouquet
A white vase, holding what appears to be baby’s breath and several varieties of marigolds, sits upon a table. Its blaze of yellow, orange, and red overwhelms muted pinks and mauves of the table covering and wallpaper. Rollo accentuates this emphasis…

New York Markets
At an unidentified and humble market advertising “Fruits & Produce,” we see what appears to be a family preparing their display. The muted browns of the ground, wooden crates, and shed constitute much of the painting yet serve as a backdrop to…

Still Life (Figured Cloth)
Precise outlines and imaginative color blending give this watercolor a distinctive appearance. It departs from most still lifes in giving a “ground-level” perspective of its subject matter—almost as a terrain. Fruit, flowers, and vegetables all make…

Three Able Seamen
This print’s obviously ironic title asks us to notice what flows into the void of unemployment—all the moments of time the remain to be filled. Three men stare into the near distance, fiddle with their fingers, or even empty a pebble from a shoe.…

Mexican Bric-a-Brac
The range of bric-a-brac depicted here is quite broad: a blue glass bottle, a painted ceramic plate, a napkin and cloth, a pair of blue shoes, a flower, a magazine, and what appears to be an avocado. Attempting to chart an underlying symbolism, in…
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