After the 1929 stock market crash, private patrons and museums were no longer able to fund the creative minds that kept the American arts scene alive and kicking. Soon enough, artists were among the masses standing in bread lines. "The young artist who depended on his hands to eat was catapulted violently from the heights of his ivory tower into the whirlpool of suffering humanity," Philip Evergood recalled in 1945. "There was absolutely no private patronage."
Beginning in 1933, the US government began creating employment opportunities for artists; a new exhibit curated by the Archives of American Art, Hard Times, 1929-1939, highlights the fruits of these Depression-era arts programs. Furthermore, these artists' letters, photographs, journals, and oral history interviews have been incorporated into the show and provide a rich view of their lives during this period in American history. The exhibit can be seen at the American Art Museum until November 8, 2009.