In conjunction with the exhibition Buffalo’s Monuments Men (on view at the Albright-Knox through April 6), the “Art and the War at Home” series showcases materials from the museum’s library and archives to highlight the special programs and initiatives that the Albright-Knox mounted in order to educate, entertain, and encourage Buffalo’s citizens during World War II.
One of these was a series of poster contests that harnessed participants’ artistic talent to create compelling and inspiring messages about special war-related topics. Perhaps you might recognize the names of a relative among the prize winners named in these newspaper clippings!
The earliest contest documented in the library’s scrapbooks is a spring 1942 contest, organized by the art committee of the Buffalo section of the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) to “celebrate the successes” of the locally made Curtiss Wright P-40 Warhawk plane during air combat in Asia. Gordon B. Washburn, the museum’s director and chairman of the OCD art committee, honored the top three selections at a special event at the Albright-Knox, and all the entered posters were exhibited in our galleries.
Later that year, the museum sponsored the “John J. Albright Blood Donor Contest.” Artists of all ages were invited to design a poster that would inspire enough Buffalonians to give blood that the Red Cross could count on two thousand donations per week. As the contest announcement reminded Buffalo’s artists, “You can fight with Paint! This is your job!”
A 1944 contest took its inspiration from a poster circulated by the US Government reminding citizens of the need for vigilance, secrecy, and the control of information during wartime. This time, the contest was open specifically to high school students—perhaps a commentary on the tendency of teenagers to gossip?
Check back on Monday, March 10, for the next installment in our “Art and the War at Home” series, and visit the exhibition Buffalo’s Monuments Men, on view now.
Images courtesy of the G. Robert Strauss, Jr. Memorial Library, Gallery Archives, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York. © 2014 Albright-Knox Art Gallery.