Submitted on Thu, 02/01/2018 – 7:41pm
By editor – Industrial Worker, February 1, 2018
The brightly colored art on the cover of IW is one of a large series of paintings and drawings of working men, women, and children by Mexican artist Alfredo Ramos Martinez. Fifteen years older than his more well-known compatriot Diego Rivera, Ramos Martinez blazed the path for the Mexican Modernist movement in his paintings and murals. While Ramos Martinez’s works did not romanticize, they offered serene depictions of Mexicans at work and at home in rural and small-town settings. The art that Rivera would create—especially his fresco murals—would be full of machinery, toil, action, bosses, and class-conscious workers.
This quarter’s theme is “Wobblies and Workers in the Arts.” An article by FW Raymond Solomon looks at TV sitcom depictions of working people starting in the 1940s (radio and a film, first) and 1950s and jumping to the 1970s and 1980s. Few sitcoms are solely comedic, and it’s when looking at jobs, pay, and the need for both that situations get serious. Another piece, by a lover of film who has run movie theaters, taught film programs to children and high school students, and currently books films for several “arthouses” across the U.S., chooses six films that show work and working people living lives their jobs affect immeasurably.
Wobblies John Kaniecki and Craig Bledsoe look at two different kinds of art: Kaniecki is a writer and poet, and he describes what and who inspire and “move” him to create art in words. Bledsoe chooses the Industrial Revolution as the point at which to start his analysis of visual arts and the movements that developed out of social and political changes and the philosophies that defined them. And I asked a friend whom I’ve seen grow up over the last 14 years to watch Cradle Will Rock, Tim Robbins’ 1999 film, with me and then write about it. She may not have realized it, but her take on the movie—which is about the heady period in the 1930s where unemployment and poverty were devastating but art was allowed to flourish through the WPA, the Roosevelt Administration’s program that employed artists and writers of all kinds to create and teach art to a dispirited population—is very much one of a young woman who is looking ahead at most of her life, while she does everything she can to maintain her optimism in the face of a daunting present.
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