54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2019


Matthew McQueen and Brian Egolf and Peter Wirth









     WHEREAS, in the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a program referred to as the new deal to help pull the United States out of the great depression; and

     WHEREAS, as part of the new deal, President Roosevelt created the works progress administration by executive order on May 6, 1935; and

      WHEREAS, the works progress administration was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program and over its eight years of existence put roughly eight million five hundred thousand Americans to work at a time when over eleven million people were unemployed; and

     WHEREAS, thousands of artists, architects, craftsmen, construction workers and educators found jobs in works progress administration projects, which flourished during the great depression; and

     WHEREAS, in roughly the first four months of 1934, the public works of art project hired three thousand seven hundred forty-nine artists and produced fifteen thousand six hundred sixty-three paintings, murals, prints, crafts and sculptures for government buildings around the country; and

     WHEREAS, two of the works progress administration's most successful artists were the young Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock; and

     WHEREAS, Mark Rothko worked for the works progress administration from 1936 to 1937 and got his first commissions for his abstract expressionism art through the program; and

     WHEREAS, Jackson Pollock spent eight years working for the works progress administration, along with his wife and fellow abstract expressionist, Lee Krasner, and both remained with the works progress administration until 1943; and

     WHEREAS, Dorothea Lange is one of the most influential photographers of the federal art project, known for her compelling images of the dust bowl and images of struggling farm families and migrant workers in California; and

     WHEREAS, Walker Evans's photographs of small towns and tenant farmers in West Virginia for the federal art project made him one of the most celebrated American new deal photographers; and

     WHEREAS, Dutch artist Willem de Kooning credited his time with the works progress administration, from 1935 to 1937, for teaching him to think of himself as an artist first; and

     WHEREAS, Diego Rivera, a world famous muralist, had important works of public art commissioned under the auspices of the works progress administration in 1939 and 1949; and

     WHEREAS, the Indian arts and crafts board hired many notable Native American artists, such as New Mexico's Pop Chalee and Pablita Velarde; and

     WHEREAS, in New Mexico, Allan Houser, known worldwide later in life as a master sculptor, painted traditional two-dimensional works of art as part of the new deal programs; and

     WHEREAS, Gene Kloss of Taos is best known for her etchings and created a new deal etching, "Christmas Eve, Taos Pueblo", which is part of a group of nine etchings of New Mexico scenes; and

     WHEREAS, the area coordinator for the works progress administration's public works of art project was woodblock printer, painter and marionette-maker Gustave Baumann, a leading member of the Santa Fe art community; and

     WHEREAS, other notable new deal artists out of the more than ten thousand artists who were commissioned to work for the federal art project were Gertrude Abercrombie, Benjamin Abramowitz, Henry Bannarn, Patricino Barela, Harrison Begay, John Steuart Curry, Marsden Hartley, Sargent Claude Johnson, Helmuth Naumer, Louise Nevelson, Elizabeth Olds, John French Sloan, Ralph Stackpole, Elizabeth Terrell and Mark Voris; and

     WHEREAS, other new deal artists went on to successful careers in their chosen fields, and the work of these artists is worthy of inclusion in a national museum of new deal art; and

     WHEREAS, as weapons production for World War II began ramping up and unemployment dropped, the federal government decided a national relief program was no longer needed and the works progress administration shut down in June 1943; and

     WHEREAS, although many new deal treasures still exist in museums and public buildings today, some have been painted over, destroyed or stolen; and

     WHEREAS, it is imperative that the history of new deal art be preserved; and

     WHEREAS, museum hill in Santa Fe is home to four world-class museums: the museum of Indian arts and culture, the museum of international folk art, the Wheelwright museum of the American Indian and the museum of Spanish colonial art; and

     WHEREAS, visitors to museum hill can also experience a unique shopping experience at the Case trading post, built to resemble a turn-of-the-century Navajo reservation trading post, and enjoy the cuisine and ambiance of the museum hill cafe; and

     WHEREAS, next to museum hill is one of Santa Fe's iconic buildings, the former national park service building, at 1100 old Santa Fe trail; and

     WHEREAS, the twenty-four-thousand-square-foot adobe building was built between 1937 and 1939 by the new deal's civilian conservation corps, and most of the two hundred civilian conservation corps members were young men from Hispanic families in the Santa Fe area; and

     WHEREAS, the national park service building, with its significant works progress administration history, would be an ideal location for a national museum of new deal art; and

     WHEREAS, tourism is big business in New Mexico, and tourism is a key contributor to the state's economy; and

     WHEREAS, the tourism department reports that the state's tourism industry had a six-billion-six-hundred-million-dollar ($6,600,000,000) impact on the New Mexico economy in 2017, the largest in state history; and

     WHEREAS, tourism department statistics also cite visitor spending in 2017 that generated six hundred sixty-two million dollars ($662,000,000) in state and local taxes and that sustained ninety-four thousand jobs; and

     WHEREAS, a national museum of new deal art, located in the national park service building next to museum hill, has the potential of being a significant tourist destination and source of additional state revenue;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that the New Mexico congressional delegation be requested to investigate the possibility of establishing a national museum of new deal art to be located in the national park service building in the museum hill neighborhood of Santa Fe; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to members of the New Mexico congressional delegation and the secretary of tourism.

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