It’s been a few weeks now since I first noticed the Green Monster Hand giving what looks like some kind of a two-finger salute of unknown meaning (I don’t think the fingers are spread apart enough to make it a proper peace sign, but I could be wrong). I can’t say when exactly it went up, but considering I pass by this block (Avenue B between 13th and 14th Streets) almost daily, I think it’s relatively new.
The title of this work, One Third of a Nation (1939) references President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1937 inaugural address in which he proclaimed, “I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” One Third of a Nation is also the title of Arthur Arent’s1938 play, which emphasized the plight of the poor and was funded by the WPA’s Federal Theater Project. In this painting, O. Louis Guglielmi (1906 – 1956) draws attention to the horrid living conditions during the Great Depression. The forms in the foreground resemble coffins, and subsequently suggest a similar reading of the brick tenements behind them. The floral wreath adorning the building’s cornice reinforces this metaphor.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
I passed this attention-grabbing house while walking along Cedar Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn and was, of course, charmed by these goofy, colorful cats adorning its exterior. Hilariously, it was not until I downloaded the picture into iPhoto that I even noticed the bright green “Elvis” tag. True story.
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