FEBRUARY 5, 1938
HYDE PARK, NEW YORK, Friday—Yesterday afternoon Mrs. Morgenthau and I went to see an exhibition of water colors and oil paintings by Olin Dows. I have known Olin Dows since he was a young boy and have watched every stage of his painting. Much of this work is the result of four years spent abroad last year, the greater part of the time in North Africa. He has certainly made great strides in his work.
Some landscapes were painted in West Virginia and looked so peaceful and picturesque that I wished I did not know so well what lay beneath those hills. The scenery is glorious in West Virginia, but to me there will always be a certain grimness in any of its landscapes, for I know too well the human suffering brought on by the coal beneath the surface.
Many people are thankful for this coal and it has meant much in the development of the country. Many of us, however, have been oblivious to the human conditions which existed in many of the coal fields. We have remained oblivious to the suffering which became more acute in certain sections when the coal deposits ran out or were not profitable to mine. We accept so much of the work that comes to us as a matter of course, without any question as to what may lie in the background.
If one could just look at these landscapes as paintings, they would probably be a joy to live with, but I came to the conclusion that if I had my choice, it would be the painting of a water carrier. It is utterly foreign, in soft shades of blue, and satisfies one's esthetic sense. The interesting face of the water carrier sets one dreaming of the difference between the races.
At this exhibit, Mr. Robert Gates showed me some of his water colors, also done in West Virginia. He is undoubtedly one of the coming painters of the more impressionistic type. I would like to give one of his paintings, which depicts the grimness of the coal fields, to some locality that has never had any touch with this side of life, but for myself, I could not live with it.
From there, we went to the Gallery of Modern Art, where a very nice exhibition of water colors were being shown, many of them by well-known painters. I would like to have one water scene and am still debating whether I have the right to spend my money that way just now.
The Interdepartmental Reception last night was the one [unclear term marked] attended by all the Departments which do not have special receptions of their own. More members of the Cabinet are present than at any other reception. We have only two more state functions and, as a consequence, many requests are being made for extra invitations. Unfortunately it is impossible to invite more than the regular quota, because when there is too much of a crowd the guests cannot enjoy themselves.
I left on the midnight train for Hyde Park, where some of my children are spending a few days at my cottage.