Friday, January 29, 2016

Still digging out of our 30" Blizzard - 1930s Depression New York City's Greenwich Village in the Snow

Beulah R. Bettersworth (American artist, 1894-1964) Christopher Street Greenwich Village, 1934

A wintry corner of Greenwich Village as artist Beulah Bettersworth knew it, when she and her husband lived at 95 Christopher Street, just a block away. Closely observed details draw the viewer into the painting to join Bettersworth’s 1934 neighbors hurrying through the slushy snow & catching a whiff of tobacco from the cigar store in the foreground. Snow melts from the roof of St. Veronica’s Catholic Church, whose towers are visible behind the Ninth Avenue “L” station. The elevated train station had been an elegant Victorian adaptation of a Swiss chalet, when it was built in 1867; but by Bettersworth’s time it was an aging relic soon to be torn down. Like the rusting “L,” the famous bohemian artistic colony that had enlivened Greenwich Village in the early 20th century had faded as the decades passed. Yet artists like Bettersworth still found homes there; and with the advent of the Great Depression, low rents attracted a new generation of poverty-stricken young poets & painters to the Village’s storied garrets.

From The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC