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New Deal for Art

Palouse Farm, c. 1948 by Jane Baldwin. Museum Collection 3454.7

Art was essential to sustaining America’s spirit during the hard economic times of the 1930s, and Jane Baldwin (1908-1991) worked tirelessly – fundraising and giving lectures - to successfully help Spokane land an art center funded by President Roosevelt’s New Deal. Between 1938 and 1942, the Spokane Art Center was a dynamic force in the community, as thousands of adults and children enrolled in free classes in lithography, painting and other disciplines taught by artists such as Robert Engard and Vanessa Helder. A community gallery offered a space for students, many of whom went on to lead successful art careers of their own.

Baldwin was deeply engaged with woodblock printing and painting, and her art gives a strong and enduring feeling for the landscape, especially Inland Northwest rural scenes and the unique Palouse landscapes. For Baldwin, the Palouse was “The darndest thing to get…you had to feel it.” Baldwin studied art at Washington State College, exhibited her work nationally and enthusiastically promoted art education, teaching YWCA and Washington State College extension classes.

Artwork by the instructors and students of the Spokane Art Center, including dozens of Baldwin prints, forms the core of the MAC's Northwest Art Collection.

The Inland Northwest History Moment is a collaboration of Spokane Public Radio and the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC), in celebration of 100 Stories, the museum’s centennial exhibition.

Latah Creek Washington, 1937 by Jane Baldwin. Museum Collection 3230.9
Vegetable Garden, undated by Jane Baldwin. Museum Collection 3230.13

More Resources:
Memorabilia: The Regional Prints of Jane Dunning Baldwinby Liz Miller, Eastern Washington State Historical Society, 1989
MAC online exhibit

Episode originally published on June 30, 2014.