Carter served as director of the Federal Arts Project of Northeastern Ohio between 1937 and 1938. He was chosen for the position because by that date he had established a widely known reputation, especially since he was the first resident of Cleveland, Ohio to have a painting purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Throughout the 1930s Carter, along with many other artists working with the FAP, documented the lives of everyday Americans who had just experienced the Great Depression. Most people at the time were dealing with poverty and poor living conditions. Artists such as Ben Shahn and Philip Evergood input a layer of satire and social commentary into their works, while others like Grant Wood and Edward Hopper dealt mainly with small town America, often encompassing a feeling of nationalism.
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Carter fell somewhere in between these two elements, with Carpenters’ Rest exemplifying this balance. Painted in 1933 just a few years into the Great Depression, the two blue-collar workers at first seem fatigued from the day’s labors, but their expressions could also betray a feeling of apathy after searching for work that simply is not there. Like many Americans, they are willing to work, dressed in overalls and holding the tool of their trade, but it would take several more years for the programs of President Roosevelt’s New Deal to remedy the decade’s economic turmoil.
Verso shows a watercolor of a marsh dated 1954.
Private collection, Carlisle, Massachusetts
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 32672, October 1998
To private collection, Los Angeles, California, December 1998 to present
Previous Vose Galleries label, inventory no. 32672