Alaska art project


Begun in 1937 by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) program to publicize through artwork the territories and possessions of the United States: Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Personnel of the Federal Art Project (FAP), a subsidiary of the WPA, under Director Holger Cahill, decided to try the project on a six-month experimental basis by sending artists only to Alaska. Included were Edwin Boyd Johnson, Merlin Pollock and John Walley from Chicago; Massachusetts artists Prescott "Mike" Jones, Karl Saxild and Vernon Smith; Minnesota artist Arthur Kerrick, and New York artists Karl Fortess, Ferdinand Lo Pinto, Antonio Mattei, Austin Mecklem and Roland Mousseau. The Alaska Art Project, June through November, 1937, concentrated on both coastal and interior regions, and government sponsored travel was limited to those areas accessible by road, ship or rail. Throughout the project weather hampered outdoor painting. Sketches had to be done in between rain showers, and then reproduced later on canvas or paper in hotel rooms. Source: A. Rex Rivolo, Ph.D., Director, Roving Sands Gallery