The Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs
Paul Meltsner (1905–1966), “Earth and Sky,” c. 1930s, oil on canvas, 24 x 30 in., Shogren-Meyer Collection

The Hillstrom Museum of Art (St. Peter, MN) presents “Industry, Work, Society, and Travails in the Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs from the Shogren-Meyer Collection,” on view through November 10. The exhibition will travel to the Tweed Museum of Art – University of Minnesota Duluth in January 2021.

The Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs
Robert Gilbert (1907–1988), “Industrial Composition,” 1932, oil on canvas, 47 x 34 in., Shogren-Meyer Collection

“Industry, Work, Society, and Travails in the Depression Era” will feature 95 works of art, mostly dating from the 1930s. Among the photographers represented in the Shogren-Meyer collection and the exhibit based on it are Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks. Among the painters included are Marvin Cone, John Steuart Curry, Ernest Fiene, Thomas Nagai, and Zoltan Sepeshy.

The Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs
Joseph Paul Vorst (1897–1947), “Sharecroppers’ Revolt,” 1939, oil on panel, 24 x 30 in., Shogren-Meyer Collection

Collector Daniel Shogren and his wife Susan Meyer have always been fascinated by the 1930s and its art, possibly related to both of them having been interested in history since childhood. Of particular interest to the passionate collectors are American Scene and Regionalist artworks. Shogren states, “In my career, I have traveled the Midwest and worked in factories where I witnessed today’s working men and women. I compare today, where we have full employment and a booming stock market, to the America of the 1920s and 1930s. Are we seeing warning signals, such as climate change and income disparity, that portend a future depression? Susan and I are deeply moved by art from the ’30s and how it reflects those times, which remain relevant in 2019. This exhibition is a dream come true for us. We are delighted to share these amazing works of art with the public.”

The Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs
Arthur Rothstein (1915–1985), “Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma,” 1936, gelatin silver print (printed early 1940s), 8 3/4 x 12 3/4 in., Shogren-Meyer Collection

“Industry, Work, Society, and Travails in the Depression Era” will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with object texts written by collectors Susan Meyer and Daniel Shogren, Donald Myers (director and chief curator, Hillstrom Museum of Art), and Christian Peterson (independent scholar and former long-time photography curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Art).

The Depression Era: American Paintings and Photographs
John Steuart Curry (1897–1946), “Russian Giant,” 1929, oil on canvas, 26 x 20 in., Shogren-Meyer Collection

The Hillstrom Museum of Art is located in the Jackson Campus Center of Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 West College Avenue, St. Peter, Minnesota. The museum’s regular hours are weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All exhibitions of the museum are free and open to the public.


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