September 20, 2016
I grew up gazing at Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post painting prints on the yearly IBEW Local 110 calendar. I was always fascinated with how he was able to show such expression on the people’s faces. They were often so humorous and I would place a family member’s name on some of his characters. In the past, I also took on the challenge of wood burning a couple of his works for my countertops. In Rutland, Vermont, I had the opportunity to share the memory of these pictures with my family. To sweeten the pot, I even had a BOGO coupon from a local restaurant to attend the museum. So, away we went!
I knew I was pushing the “boy limit” to take my crew to some art museum. I grabbed their sketch books and headed out the door. I explained to them how Rockwell had the ability to take common moments people have and bring it to life. Some examples included splashing the “freeze baby” before he was used to the water, two boys fighting over a girl, and the bond between a boy his dog. I told them, “Look at the pictures and see if any of them strike you as funny or otherwise.”
The exhibit showed the progression of his artistry chronologically as it related to worldwide events. It told of Rockwell’s preference in magazine publications and later on the profit from advertisements. In the 2000+ prints we saw, I noticed the earlier ones had more humor and life to them. As he became older, the paintings grew more serious and political in content.
While I was excited to see a collection of Rockwell’s works, I was disappointed in the visit in several ways. Of the 2000+ pieces they had on hand, none were any of his original work. They were gathered together from the various articles, books, magazines, advertisements, etc. where they were used. The plaques on the walls were confusing because most of them told of the world events of that era. While it helps to give some background into the artwork, personal events of Norman Rockwell would have been enriching as well. Then other plaques told of specific pieces, scattered among the headlines. I would have preferred to have some kind of identification for the painting explanations. The writing was so small, I ended up not reading most the plaques due to all of the general history mixed in.
The boys made the most of the situation. They were able to both laugh and declare family member names on a few of the pictures. When they came upon the two pictures I wood burned, they pointed them out with excitement. They also found a picture that they enjoyed, drew, and wrote about it as well. While this may not have been their first choice for excursions, I believe this was a worthwhile experience for them.
Come to find out afterwards, Norman Rockwell’s family has some kind of museum in Massachusetts. Some of the original paintings are in that facility. I have not looked further into that though. While the price was decent, I probably would have visited the main museum in Massachusetts if I did this event again.
Until we meet again,