Special film showing highlights WPA art

Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA will be screened at the Milford Arts Center on Tuesday, May 17, 7 p.m. This showing of the documentary film about the Golden Age of American creativity, directed by Connecticut-based independent filmmaker Michael Maglaras and produced by Terri Templeton, is part of the One City One Story events being held this spring, sponsored by the Milford Library, Milford Public Schools, Milford Arts Council and Connecticut Humanities.

Enough to Live On was created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Federal Art Project, the New Deal initiatives that employed thousands of artists and spurred the country’s artistic renaissance.

“The 90-minute feature,” said Maglaras, an Ashford resident, “documents the seven-year period (1936-41) of artistic and cultural renewal that was part of the national recovery from the effects of the Great Depression. Highlighting works of art in public spaces sponsored by the federal government, the film gets its name from a comment by artist Willem de Kooning, who said that WPA work gave him enough to live on during those dark years.”

Featuring more than 70 works of art from this period, as well as rare footage of WPA artists at work, the film tells the story of how Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal moved art in America out of rarified museums, bringing it directly to the American people. It highlights some of the most impressive works and the art that still exists today.

The film, written and narrated by Maglaras, is the sixth produced and self-funded in the past 10 years by the Connecticut residents and their independent film company, 217 Films. The documentary, which made its world premiere to a standing-room-only crowd at the New Britain Museum of Art, has been shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in D.C., as well in cities and towns across the country.

The filmmakers, Maglaras and Templeton, who come from a performance background, will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions after the screening. The event is free and open to the public.

The Sacramento Bee called Michael Maglaras a “film maker of Bergman-like gravitas.”  The New Britain Herald compared his work “to that of the widely acclaimed Ken Burns.”

The showing of Enough to Live On also celebrates Milford Arts Center’s campaign to raise dollars to restore Milford’s WPA mural, We Shall Pass This Way But Once, which for nearly 40 years hung in the lobby of the Central Grammar School. A fragment of the mural, measuring approximately 7’8” x 5’, was rescued by Bill Meddick and Frank Vespi, then executive director of Milford Arts Center and Board of Education Arts Coordinator respectively. When restored, the mural will hang at the Milford Public Library. For additional information, and to make a donation, visit :http://milfordarts.org/visual-arts/adopt-a-mural/