Monday, January 19, 2009

Rockwell's America

Yesterday, my friend and I traveled to Columbus to the Ohio Historical Center to see the exhibit "Rockwell's America." The exhibit featured life sized re-creations of Norman Rockwell's famous scenes from The Saturday Evening Post. We began by entering to see a quick video on Norman Rockwell and The Saturday Evening Post. The video informed us that he painted 322 paintings for the Post and 50 calendars for the Boy Scouts of America during his career which spanned from 1910 to 1970's. The publishers of the Post created this exhibit. From there we entered into a replica of his studio. There we cam upon a replica of Rockwell painting his famous self portrait. All around the room were props and books. You were encouraged to touch the props and even the sculpture of the self portrait. We then went through a frame into the next scene which represented summertime. In this scene we saw children playing, going to a swimming hole, old gentleman fishing, baseball scenes seen through a hole in the fence and a model T for the patrons to climb into. While in this room there was a man dressed in 1930 garb and talking to you about what you were seeing and creating stories. In the next area was Main Street America and here his work showed how technology changed everyday life. There were phones placed along the way that you could pick up and dial to other areas in this scene. Sometimes it was a child dialing and sometimes it was one of the "characters" calling to draw you into the story they were weaving. The character on Main Street was a little old lady waiting on her husband that had gone into the barber shop for a haircut and ended up playing his fiddle. This painting was recreated with you looking into the barber shop window seeing the makeshift jam session in the back room. Rockwell was known for his paintings of WWII. In this section we met Willie the soldier that walked America through positive tasks that people back home hoped their loved one was experiencing. We also met "Rosie the Riveter". Rosie was the character that spoke to the patrons. She had a assembly line to show how manufacturing existed during the war while the men were gone. This lead up to President F.D. Roosevelt's State of the Union speech in 1943 where he talked about the Four Freedoms (of speech, from want, of worship and from fear). Rockwell took those four freedoms and created a painting for each. Next to this was the Civil Rights movement and Rockwell's painting of "The Problems We All Live With" which is the depiction of Ruby Bridges as she goes to school on the first day of segregation. Home for the holidays was a home with the life sized figures creating the middle America small town image that Rockwell gave us. The last area was a room with all 322 Saturday Evening Posts. It was not what I expected it to be, yet I truly enjoyed the experience. I would recommend the exhibit to anyone who has the opportunity to see it. "My fundamental purpose is to interpret the typical America. I am a storyteller. ... I paint life as I would like it to be." -Norman Rockwell Gaylynn


debwardart said...

Sounds like a great exhibit and I'll try to get up there before it closes. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Chris said...

I love his work! What a great opportunity to view this exhibit.

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