‘Enough to Live On,’ film about WPA and the arts, will be shown for free at Milford Arts Center

MILFORD >> “Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA” will be screened for free Tuesday, May 17, 7 p.m. at the Milford Arts Center, 40 Railroad Ave. S.

The documentary about American creativity was directed by Connecticut independent filmmaker Michael Maglaras and produced by Terri Templeton. It is part of the “One City One Story” events being held this spring, sponsored by the Milford Library, public schools, Milford Arts Council and Connecticut Humanities. “Enough to Live On” was created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Art Project, the New Deal initiatives that employed thousands of artists and spurred the country’s artistic renaissance.

The showing of “Enough to Live On” also celebrates Milford Arts Center’s campaign to raise funds to restore Milford’s WPA mural, “We Shall Pass This Way But Once,” which for nearly 40 years hung in the the former Central Grammar School downtown.

When the school was demolished in 1986, a fragment of the mural, measuring about 7 feet 8 inches by 5 feet, 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.

“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. Maglaras emphasizes the need to document this period in American history before it is forgotten. The film, written and narrated by Maglaras, is the sixth produced and self-funded in 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 Washington, D.C., as well in cities and towns across the country. The filmmakers, who come from a performance background, will be on hand to introduce the film and answer questions after the screening. The Sacramento Bee called Michael Maglaras a “filmmaker of Bergman-like gravitas.”

The New Britain Herald compared his work “to that of the widely acclaimed Ken Burns.”

He was recently featured in a full-length interview on “Conversations from Penn State” on Public Television.

For additional information, and to make a donation, visit http://milfordarts.org/visual-arts/adopt-a-mural/.

For details, visit www.milfordarts.org or call the Milford Arts Council at 203-878-6647.