Universal York

Part of the USA Today Network

More on National Art Week


My last post listed all the artwork, mostly paintings, displayed in downtown York storefront windows during National Art Week in 1939. It caught my eye since The Parliament arts organization is promoting a similar venture, utilizing vacant display windows.

I also found another Gazette and Daily article from November 1939 listing other National Art Week activities. I wondered if there was still a National Art Week, so I did some internet searching: National Art Week seems to have come out of the WPA (Works Progress Administration), created in 1935 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs during the Great Depression. The FAP (Federal Art Project) was the visual arts division of the WPA, and that seems to have been the impetus behind National Art Week, which officially lasted only a few years. The Great Depression was coming to an end, and focus shifted quickly to the United States entry into World War II.

A catalog entry for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art references papers from National Art Week from Washington State in 1940 and 1941. We know from the Gazette and Daily articles that is was being observed here in 1939, and an online article from an Alexandria, Louisiana newspaper tells about their National Art Week events in 1938.

Some other countries, such as the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, seem to be currently observing their own National Art Week. The United States now commemorates Arts in Education week, established by a 2010 resolution passed by the House of Representatives.

Here’s the 1939 article:

Work of Present and Former York Artists and Students on Display

York artists, artists of former residence in this city and students of the York Public school system are displaying their work of the past year this week, in observance of National Art week, which opened Wednesday. Over thirty paintings in oil, water color and pastel of artists of this city and those who formerly resided here have been placed in downtown store windows in connection with the national observance.

Students of a number of schools of this city have prepared displays in their respective schools, exhibiting their works of the past year. A number of assembly periods were scheduled in various schools with the theme centered about art.

An exhibit ‘Early Pennsylvania Arts and Crafts’ has been prepared in the Martin Memorial library by members of the library staff. The annual exhibit of the York Art club, usually held at this time, has been postponed until November 27. An exhibit will be arranged at that time in the Martin Memorial library and remain on display for public viewing for two weeks.

The second of a series of art displays sponsored by the York Club of Printing House Craftsmen will be shown at the Martin library November 14 to 22, inclusive. At that time the work of Holmes I. Mettee, noted photographer of Baltimore, will be on exhibition for the benefit of the general public. The officials of the Printing House Craftsmen have invited all persons to visit the exhibition and study the technique of the photographic art.”

Art is alive and well in York County. We are very fortunate to have such a thriving local arts community, as well as to live not more than a few hours from justifiably world famous museums in Baltimore; Washington, DC; Delaware; Philadelphia and New York. Go and enjoy.