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Brooklyn Community Art Center: WPA Art Project & Sydney Kellner Classes

DATES August 21, 1941 through September 01, 1941
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  • August 21, 1941 An exhibition, which for many Brooklyn housewives, professional and business men, including a tug-boat pilot, is more in the nature of a “commencement” after a completed course, will open at the Brooklyn Museum on August 21, to remain on view until September 1. There will be a private showing on the afternoon of the 20th for students and their friends.

    The items on view, comprising paintings in oil, water colors, graphic prints, designs for interior decoration, fashion and advertising design, are the product of Brooklyn residents of all ages from seventeen to seventy, and in all walks of life, after attending the summer courses offered by the Brooklyn Community Art Center, a unit of the Art Teaching Division of the New York City WPA Art Project. Classes were maintained at both the Center and at the Brooklyn Museum. The opening date of the exhibition marks the closing day of the summer course.

    These summer courses are an annual feature of the activities of the Center, according to Sydney Kellner, its director, and are designed with the purpose of affording an opportunity for self-expression to adults whose interest in art is extra-occupational. How far and wide this interest extends is attested by the varied ages and occupations of the exhibitors in this show.

    There are among them housewives, young and old, seeking a either diversion or improvement in their knowledge of how to make home more pleasant, salesmen, doctors, dentists, teachers, unemployed workers, a power engineer and even a tug-boat pilot, all of them inspired by the desire to relieve the possible tedium of a daily occupation by doing something creative with their own hands.

    The function of the Brooklyn Community Art Center is based on the principle of community participation for the sake of community service. Community participation in the case of the Brooklyn Center consists in the loan of the building by the Brooklyn Society of Ethical Culture, and the continued interest in the Center’s activities maintained by the Society’s directors, Dr. and Mrs. Henry Newman. The regular activities of the Center comprise the conduct of nineteen classes in painting in all media, sculpture, lithography, etching, costume design, fashion illustration, photography, advertising design, interior decoration and other creative art subjects. The cumulative attendance of these classes has exceeded one thousand weekly. Lectures and films on various topics of art interest round out the program of the Center.

    The list of exhibitors represented in the show include the following Brooklyn residents: H. Fogelberg, Florence Serra, Ugo Liberi, Henry B. Leon S. Tiretzky, Dante Liberi, Nathan Rabinowitz, Louis Ehrman, N. Gitnick, J. Walsh and Abraham Danoff. These are represented in the exhibition with paintings in oil. The water color section contains the following names in addition to some mentioned above: H. Goldberg, Julius Herr and Clara Scheinberg. The photographic division contains photographs by Alfonso Rock, A. Fink, L. Platkin, Leo Elbaum and J. Coffey.

    There are three drawings in the exhibition by H Goldberg. Norma Kachuck and Charles Silberman. Seven costume designs in the show were made by Shirley Cross, Sally Weinstein, Dolores Comez and Beatrice Magit. The print section contains work by the following students: Walter Davidowitz, John Hara, Grace Jahn and Alice Matteson, who is represented by a booklet containing eleven plates. The Sculpture division is represented with five pieces by Anna Hickstein, Julius Shifiluss, Melita Rodeck, Ida Turpin and Arthur Epstein.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1939 - 1941. 08-09/1941, 155-6.
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