Book Review: See America, A Celebration of Our National Parks and Treasured Sites, pp 172

Lincoln Memorial

Artist: Luis Prado
Lincoln Memorial

To celebrate the 100th birthday of the national parks, the Creative Action Network (CAN) produced “See America,” a collection of contemporary national park posters inspired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The hardcover book is the brainchild of CAN co-founders Aaron-Perry-Zucker and Max Slavkin, who combined their appreciation of the iconic travel posters created by WPA artists during the Great Depression with their own passion for fostering creative communities.

 

“See America” features 75 colorful posters of national parks and monuments from all 50 states along with thumbnail maps and little-known gems about each park’s history and unique character.

Artist: Roberlan Borges
Haleakalā National Park

For example, public demand to memorialize President Lincoln began immediately after his assassination, yet it took 50 years of fundraising and Congressional debate for construction on the Lincoln Memorial National Monument to begin. It opened in 1911. Haleakala National Park, established in 1916, is home to more endangered species than any other park in the National Park Service. Joshua Tree National Park, founded as national monument in 1936, exists today thanks to a tenacious conservationist, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, who appealed to FDR to establish a desert national monument. Now a national park, Joshua Tree harbors 800 species.

CAN is an online community of more than  ten thousand graphic artists dedicated to using their creativity to raise awareness of social causes. Some 750 artists submitted more than a thousand poster designs for the “See America” project. Artists are paid for the sale their posters, which are displayed on CAN’s website. Proceeds also benefit the National Parks Conservation Association. Learn more at Seeamericaproject.com

Artist: Jon Cain
Great Smoky Mountains

As our thanks for your support: Donate $100 or more to the Living New Deal and receive a copy of “See America” as our gift to you. Donations to the Living New Deal are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.

WPA Posters Inspire A New Generation

Grand Canyon poster by Matt Brass

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon poster by Matt Brass
Photo Credit: Matt Brass

Inspired by the New Deal arts programs, Creative Action Network (CAN), an online community of mission-driven artists, announced a crowdsource campaign to create a new collection of “See America” posters celebrating America’s national parks.  Within a few weeks about two hundred poster designs hit their inbox, with new submissions arriving daily.

“With today’s digital tools, individual artists have the power to create and share their work as never before. That’s why now is the time to pick up where the New Deal left off, and harness America’s creative energy,” says Max Slavkin, CAN’s co-founder.

During the 1930s the WPA’s Federal Art Project put thousands of unemployed artists to work. FAP poster divisions opened in 48 states, churning out posters promoting art, theater, safety, education, health, and travel. Early on, the posters were hand-painted and produced in small quantities. But in 1938, a poster campaign to encourage visitation to the national parks was launched in Berkeley, California, using new silkscreen techniques that enabled full-color posters to be printed in bulk. The posters, which sold for about twelve cents a piece, were distributed to Chambers of Commerce in towns surrounding the parks. In the 1940s the remainders were sent to the parks. Few original posters survive, but quality reproductions abound: http://www.rangerdoug.com

Luis Prado, Craters of the Moon poster

Craters of the Moon
Luis Prado, Craters of the Moon poster
Photo Credit: Luis Prado

Seventy-five years after the national park posters first appeared, CAN, in partnership with the National Parks and Conservation Association and Posters for the People, revived the “See America” campaign using social media. In January, a collection of the new posters was shown in San Francisco and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York. More exhibitions are in the works. The “See America” designs are for sale, with forty percent of proceeds going to the artists.

Here’s one of the WPA posters that appeared on “The Living Dead” (see comment below):

Save Your Eyes WPA Poster