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Hartnell College Art Exhibition to Feature Paintings and Photographs from the Great Depression

August 13th, 2005

In celebration of Hartnell College's 85th year of service to residents of the Salinas Valley, an exhibition of paintings and photographs will explore the historical background of California during the formative years of the college, established in 1920.

The exhibition opens in Hartnell's art gallery on August 22 and runs through Sep. 29.

The gallery, located in the Visual Arts Building, is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Monday and Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

Drawn primarily from Hartnell's own permanent collection, the exhibition will illustrate the rural setting and the agricultural activities that were the norm for the Salinas Valley as seen by artists employed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Farm Security Administration (FSA), two federal relief program established during the Great Depression.

The exhibition is titled "Foundations: WPA Paintings and FSA Photographs from the 1930s."

Implementation of the WPA and FSA programs coincided with Hartnell's first major growth period. The college's first permanent building was constructed with funds from the WPA. The single- story structure served as the heart of the campus on Homestead Avenue until it was replaced by the current three-story Classroom Administration Building (CAB).

Gary Smith, gallery director and Hartnell art instructor, said the style of the period was strongly regional and the many different artists represented in the exhibition "shared a common vision based on the dignity of the human spirit, the importance of the workers, the bounty of nature and the central role of agriculture in American life. Scenes of everyday events, like haircuts, visits with friends or neighbors, food preparation and views - both rural and urban - merge into a collage of images that reminds us how much and yet how little has changed since the founding of Hartnell College in 1920."

For more information about the exhibition, call the gallery at (831) 755-6791.