Art and a Neighborhood
- Dates: December 10, 1947 through January 18, 1948
November 30, 1947: A committee of sponsors headed by Mrs. Ainsworth L. Smith, a member of the Board of Directors of Colony House, and Mrs. Henry C. Eldert, a member of the Board of Directors of South Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses, has been formed for the first exhibition of the United Art Workshops of five Brooklyn neighborhood houses opening at the Brooklyn Museum Wednesday, December 10. The Sponsoring Committee will serve as hostesses at the private showing of the exhibition “Art and a Neighborhood” Tuesday afternoon, December 9, and at special meetings during the period the exhibition is on view.
Invitations for the preview have been issued to the membership of the Brooklyn Museum and friends of the five neighborhood houses.
Five Brooklyn neighborhoods will be represented in “Art and a Neighborhood” in a showing of art works which have emerged from the most congested housing blocks to be found in New York’s borough of Brooklyn. They are the neighborhoods served by the five settlement houses which in organizing the United Art Workshops this past spring have launched the first coordinated program activity in the settlement movement in this country.
Pioneering this cooperative movement in neighborhood art are Colony House, Willoughby Houses, South Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses, the Jacob A. Riis Settlement, Brooklyn Center, and the Brooklyn Urban League Center, all members of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York, Inc. and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses Fund.
Serving with Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Eldert on the committee are: Mrs. Gordon L. Edwards, president of the Board of Directors of Colony House, and Mrs. Donald L. Sinclair, member of the Board; Miss Irene Freeney, executive secretary, Miss Helene Nelson, director, and Mrs. James H. Blauvelt, member of the Board at the Jacob A. Riis Settlement, Brooklyn Center; Mrs. Catherine Alexander, secretary, and Dr. William H. Kilpatrick and Dr. John H. Lathrop, members of the Board of the Brooklyn Urban League Center; Mrs. William Greenman, Mrs. Reese Himes, members of the Board and Mrs. Arthur Irving, neighborhood representative of Willoughby Houses; and Miss Louise Goetze, member of the Board of South Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses.
Winter approximately 1947: In recognition of the fact that art springs from the most unlikely places and often from people who make no pretenses of being artists, the Brooklyn Museum has completed plans for an exhibition “Art and a Neighborhood” which will show the work of the United Art Workshops of Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses, it was announced yesterday by Charles Nagel, Jr., director of the Museum. “Art and a Neighborhood” the first exhibition of its kind presented by a museum of art in New York City, will open December 10.
Five Brooklyn neighborhoods will be represented in the showing of these art works which have emerged from the most congested housing blocks to be found in New York’s borough of Brooklyn, Mr. Nagel said. They are the neighborhoods served by the five settlement houses which in organizing the United Art Workshops have launched the first coordinated program activity in the settlement movement in this country.
Pioneering this cooperative movement in neighborhood art are Colony House, Willoughby House, South Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses, the Jacob A. Riis Settlement, Brooklyn Center, and Brooklyn Urban League Center, all member units of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York, Inc. and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses Fund.
Produced by play school groups, grade and high school groups, parent and old age groups, “Art and a Neighborhood” includes the work of a neighborhood people ranging in age from three to 85 years.
“Art and a Neighborhood”, Mr. Nagel said, is devoted to the idea that while the primary purpose of the United Art Workshops is not to produce artists, a man, woman or child, given paint, clay or other media to work with, can find a rewarding outlet for the expression of feeling and ideas, and through this self expression often can produce creative works of art worthy of serious attention.
Lending support to this most recent project of these Brooklyn settlements is an advisory board of which members are William Zorach, sculptor, Joan Miro, Adolph Gottleib, Jacob Lawrence, painters, Leon P. Smith, the painter and art educator, George Elliot, advertising artist, Robert J. Wolff, chairman of the Department of Design of Brooklyn College, and Mr. Nagel.
Lillard McCloud, who previously served as the art director at Colony House and Willoughby Houses until the united project was started this past spring, is the director of the United Art Workshops and teachers include: Florence Grippe, potter and wife of the noted sculptor, Peter Grippe; Nolla Moss and Seymour Franks, painters; Isabelle Masmotte, assistant art editor of the American Home Magazine; Mr. Smith and Mr. Elliot.
The exhibition, Mr. Nagel said, will include paintings, collage, drawings, construction and clay modeling. The works are representational, abstract, surrealistic and non-objective depending on the individual artist.
While this is the first exhibit of the United Art Workshops, children from two of the settlement houses, Willoughby and Colony, participated in a joint exhibition of their work at the Norlyst Galleries in Manhattan this past spring.
In presenting “Art and a Neighborhood”, the Brooklyn Museum, Mr. Nagel said, is fulfilling a part of its function as a center for cultural expression on the part of the community it serves.
December 10, 1947: Paintings
By people of a Neighborhood (Age 3 to 85)
In the Special Exhibition Gallery of the Brooklyn Museum
From December 10 through January 18
Participating Houses: Colony House, Willoughby House, Jacob A. Riis Settlement, Brooklyn Urban League Center, South Brooklyn Neighborhood House, Red Hook Community Center.
Photographs of the neighborhoods and their people have been especially made for this exhibition by Henri Cartier-Bressons, Lisette Model, Thomas Bouchard and others.
The art work of the United Art Workshops has been widely acclaimed by professional artists, teachers and psychiatrists as the freest and most creative being done in New York settlement houses. Dr. Kurt Adler, noted psychiatrist, and son of the great Dr. Alfred Adler, says that the paintings are the most revealing since those produced under the direction of Dr. Cizek who started the Freedom of Expression movement for children in Vienna 30 years ago.
Startling in their originality and sophistication, these exhibits are sometimes primitive, abstract, surrealistic or non-objective, depending on the individual artist. They have been compared to modern masters such as Picasso, Chagall, Miro, etc.
The United Art Workshops of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses are directed by Lillard McCloud, and teachers include Leon P. Smith, Molla Moss, George Elliot, Florence Grippe, Seymour Franks, Isabelle Masmotte.
Charles Nagle, Jr., Director of the Brooklyn Museum says: “Art and A Neighbohood is fine evidence in both a social and artistic sense of what can be accomplished by a community effort to acquaint “people from 3 to 85” with their own potentialities to express themselves through the visual arts. Arranged in a manner to show teaching methods, the exhibition will be of exceptional value to teachers and art students.”
With art as a common Language, the six Brooklyn settlements: Colony House, Willoughby House, South Brooklyn Neighborhood House, Red Hook Community Center, Jacob A. Riis Settlement, and Brooklyn Urban League Center, have set a precedent with their United Art Workshops. This is the first time in the history of settlement houses that any group of the houses has coordinated a program activity. All six houses are members of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York, Inc. and the Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses Fund.
Statement from Albert J. Kennedy, Director of Research of the National Federation of Settlement:
I consider the United Art Workshops of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses a first rate contribution to settlement organizations and programming. This is the first time in the history of settlements that a group of houses have coordinated a program activity. The problem of securing instructors who are professionally competent, warmly human and ingeniously flexible in helping children and adults to recognize and develop their interests in all aspects of visual beauty is a troublesome one. Few settlements can afford to employ art directors and instructors in drawing and crafts. A lone part time artist giving an hour or two a week sandwiched into a program of riotous athletics, game room, dance and club activities, finds it hard to maintain his professional morale. He needs sympathetic professional supervision, guidance and support.
The United Art Workshops of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses are giving just this and save his interest to the settlement.
The United project will likewise help sustain interest of children and adults by relating them to what their fellows in other settlements are doing and the live art interest of the borough.
Ultimately, the United Art Workshops will, I am sure, develop into lively centers of art interest in the eight participating neighborhoods. Neighborhood exhibition classes for all age groups from nursery schools to octogenarians are proposed. These will create a new institutional form fitted to their particular spirit. Local art centers are going to be as much a part of neighborhood life as branch libraries. The United Art Workshops are pioneering in this movement.
This Brooklyn idea, I hope, will be adopted and applied in a score of cities. I also hope it will attract the support and achieve the success which will make it a national as well as a local dynamic.
“The United Art Workshops of Brooklyn Neighborhood Houses is a most significant development in art education. For the first time, to my knowledge, a group to improve their standards in this important area, and to stimulate creative self-expression on the part of neighbors young and old. The Art Workshops are not intended to train artists, but to offer the rich experience of aesthetic expression to many who now lack it. I feel sure that effects of this work will soon be apparent in more rounded personality development.”
Helen M. Harris
United Neighborhood Houses
Press Preview - Friday December 5th
& Monday December 8th