CCC Art – Solving the Mysteries

Solving the mystery of CCC Art and its origins sometimes happens when you least expect it.

It is an exciting research day when one of the mysteries surrounding CCC Art can be solved, especially if you weren’t looking for it.

A component of the first federal government sponsored fine art programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) included depictions of the government work programs, the most popular being the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).  Artists, who were considered roving artists, were briefly sent into camps to make a pictorial record of the life and work.

Leland Roger Gustavson (1899-1966) was one of these roving and prolific HAPPY DAYS 3/24/2934 picture of CCC/PWAP art with officials.PWAP artists. Gustavson was sent to several CCC camps during the harsh winter months of January and February 1934.

In its March 24, 1934 edition, HAPPY DAYS the unofficial national newspaper of the CCC included a front page report and photograph on the PWAP CCC art projects.

Until recently the identity of the CCC boy and the camps where Gustavson’s CCC art was created was long ago lost to history.

courtesy ccclegacy.org

Continue reading “CCC Art – Solving the Mysteries”

Frank Cassara – Last of the New Deal CCC artists

During the Great Depression persistence and talent earned Frank Cassara a young, untried artist his place among the greats in New Deal art history.

The last of the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) artists, Frank (Francesco) Cassara, born March 13, 1913 in Partinico, Sicily died January 13, 2017, in Ann Arbor, Michigan – two months shy of his 104th birthday.

Frank Cassara CCC artist 2010
During a September 2010 interview Frank Cassara, a former CCC and WPA artist, graciously shared recollections of his New Deal assignments. ©2010 Kathleen Duxbury.    All Rights Reserved

In the fall of 2010, Frank Cassara and his daughter, Francisca, graciously welcomed me into his Michigan home and studio. While giving me directions they voiced concerns with traffic I might encounter en-route; a football game was scheduled at the University of Michigan. If there was traffic I never noticed, but do recall the Spartans were not the only winners that weekend.

Frank was then 97 years old, in a wheelchair, soft spoken and was quietly reflective as I questioned him about his time and special circumstances as an Artist/Enrollee with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Illinois during the Great Depression years.

Initially we sat in the living room of his home. Frank watched as I arranged my papers, camera equipment and hooked up the audio recorder all while explaining the who and whys of our New Deal research, extensive travels and how we search for CCC art, artists and stories.

Frank apologized for what he believed would be unproductive time and wasted travel for me; explaining it had been years (authors note – 75+ years) since his assignment to a CCC camp and he really couldn’t remember much.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect as I handed Frank copies of CCC camp photographs and letters. The documents were dated 1934 – 1935, years when Frank was 21 years of age, living in Detroit, Michigan and desperate for work. He was writing or approaching anyone or any agency he thought might be of assistance, repeatedly.

Continue reading “Frank Cassara – Last of the New Deal CCC artists”

Researching CCC Art

Between 1934-1937 the CCC art program encompassed the lower forty-eight states. Researching this quiet part of American art history requires extensive travel and investigation. Using a vintage motor home allows the best access to sleuthing within the parks, repositories and other collections that house this New Deal history. Often crucial information is found by going to the source; clues that lead to the art, artists and stories of the CCC.

Traveling History's Trail Together Autumn Years magazine 2015

We are appreciative for this article which draws attention to a quiet part of America art history and our efforts in researching the Civilian Conservation Corps and the New Deal CCC art program.

“Traveling History’s Trail . . . Together” written by Patricia Farrell Delhauser along with the design and layout by Heidi Gross appeared in the Fall 2015 edition of Autumn Years magazine.

The complete article with images may be viewed on my website  KathleenDuxbury.com  along with information on the first in a series that highlights the CCC artists and the CCC art program.

CCC-Art-MD--312x400

CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis

 CCC ART – Artists of the Civilian Conservation Corps – Marshall Davis”

Marshall Davis was a young, untried and struggling artist caught up in a dramatic and timely turn of events. It was the Great Depression, his only option for a job was to enroll in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as a laborer.  Davis wisely brought along his sketchpad and pencils and embarked on a artistic journey that would change his life and our understanding of the three C’s.  Through the discovery of his masterful and whimsical illustrations, letters and records we are provided with a true visual of the real CCC. The CCC was the first and most successful of the New Deal work programs; a massive movement that is recognized as the greatest conservation effort in US history.

CCC-Art-MD--312x400

Available direct from the author Kathleen Duxbury at www.kathleenduxbury.com; at the New Deal Store   
FDR Presidential Library
bookstore, Hyde Park, New York and online
 Amazon

 “I have a pile of picture material – and thanks to those managing the Art Project and Mr. Hoyt of Happy Days – the time is drawing near when I will have nothing to do but sleep – eat – and draw . . . I assure you I will do my best with every opportunity.”   (Clarence) Marshall Davis

One can easily sense the excitement felt by junior Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) enrollee Marshall Davis on March 24, 1934 as he put pen to paper and wrote those words to Edward Rowan in the Treasury Department  Washington, D.C.  Marshall Davis was about to join the first of the government art programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP).
his assignment was to make a pictorial record of the CCC, a program his knew well.