‘Dobes – WPA Artist Manville Chapman’s Reflections on Adobe: Selections from the Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe is the new exhibit opening at the Silver City Museum on Friday, August 3, 2012 at the Silver City Museum.
In conjunction with the celebration of Silver City’s first Clay Festival, the exhibit includes artwork by Chapman that depicts traditional New Mexican methods of making and building with adobe. They are part of a collection of work completed during his tenure as an artist with the Federal Art Project, a division of the Works Progress Administration (later renamed Works Project Administration) in the 1930s and early ‘40s. Born from the depression as a government program to create jobs during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, the WPA enabled many of New Mexico’s artists, architects, writers and others to engage in the work of their profession while providing a service to the community.
Manville Chapman, 1903 – 1978, was the son of a pioneer family from Colfax County, New Mexico. He is better known for a series of mural paintings at the Shuler Theater in Raton that illustrate the early settlement and history of the region. Many of Chapman’s works on view at the Silver City Museum showcase the expressive style and use of color in his artistic technique of over-painting blockprints depicting rural scenes of everyday life and traditional adobe building methods of New Mexico.
In addition to the works by Chapman, the museum invited John O’Hern, Santa Fe Editor for Western Art Collector magazine to write the introduction to the exhibit that explores the WPA’s impact on New Mexico and Chapman’s connection to the program. Did you know that the director of arts programs for the WPA in New Mexico had a connection with Silver City?
The exhibit also includes interactive stations for children to explore the adobe building process. Part of the exhibit focuses on current local connections, including a contemporary builder who works with adobe and a local artist skilled in the technique of wood engravings.
The Silver City Museum Society will have a members only preview at 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 2. The exhibit will open to the public on Friday, August 3 and be on view until January 31, 2013. The exhibit is sponsored in part by the generous support from the Freeport-McMoRan Community Fund.