Art Could Have Saved Us From Ourselves

The Federal Art Project set out to create a more democratic and enlightened America
Federal Art Project poster asking "Shall the Artist Survive?"

Every Thursday for the past eight months or so I’ve been going to a local art center for drawing lessons. The center is in a California-style cedar house that could only be more bohemian had it a hot tub. The two rooms inside would remind most people born before 1985 of their elementary school art classes. The walls are paneled in wood and hung with pop-surrealist prints and old awareness-campaign posters warning of the dangers of everything from tobacco to abandoned fridges. Philodendra and spider plants hang from wooden beams that span the ceiling, and there are mugs filled with pencils and paintbrushes and boxes labelled “Slides” and “Carbon Copies” and old photographs stacked on shelves along the walls. The whole place smells like chalk and oil paint and the Maxwell House instant coffee our instructor sips throughout the evening sessions.

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Spiced Dutch Bread for a Starry Night

dutch cottage

Between 1883 and 1885 Vincent van Gogh lived in Nuenen, a small village in the Brabant district of the Netherlands where his father was the church pastor. There Van Gogh immersed himself in his subject — the lives of local peasants — with a gusto uncommon even among passionate artists.

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