Karsten Moran for The New York Times
On March 1 the New York Times featured the opening of an exhibition at Gracie Mansion to celebrate 75 years as a mayoral residence. Two of the loan objects in the show are from the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute of Hunter College: portraits of Hunter College graduates who enlisted in the Navy, among 80 from the college who joined the armed forces. During World War II, 350,000 women served in various branches of the US military – Army (WACS), Navy (WAVES), Coast Guard (SPARS), Air Force (WASPS), and Marines. The Hunter women were painted by Professor Joseph Cummings Chase, a nationally known artist. When not on loan to Gracie Mansion, all the portraits are displayed at Roosevelt House.
Writing for the Times Eve Kahn says, “Sculptures, paintings and photos on view portray Robert Moses, La Guardia and Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as unnamed Harlem residents, seamen carousing on shore leave, women in crisp navy uniforms volunteering for military service, and refugees in Europe carrying loved ones and possessions.” She quotes Kalia Brooks, the show’s curator, “The objects are meant to convey New York’s wartime role as a safe harbor for the displaced, a crossroads of cultures and a cradle for progressive momentum.”