Friday, June 10, 2016

Free Beer at the Taubman (Sort Of)

My own watercolor of the Rockwell exhibit today*.
A quick step inside Roanoke's Taubmam Museum of Art today and you're immediately confronted with the big question: Where's the free beer?

Actually, it's on the second floor in the form of the Norman Rockwell exhibit, which was pulling them in off the streets today like that free beer would on any other day. In fact, there was such a mob inside that it was difficult to fully enjoy the exhibit, but Margie and I gave it our best shot.

Americana viewing Americana.
I came away with a renewed enthusiasm for a man I've always admired for his optimism and his humility. He was a man of the first half of the 20th Century, but an artist (he preferred "illustrator," but I beg to differ) of unusual humor, talent and sense of observation.

His drawings of everyday life always elicit smiles, nods and rolled eyes. My favorite, I think, is the August 30, 1952 Saturday Evening Post cover, "A Day in the Life of a Girl," which goes step-by-step through the day of a kid of about 9 or so. It touched me, but then, so many did.

I would have no problem saying Norman Rockwell was a Bernie Sanders liberal--coming from the same part of the country and the same hardy stock--because it shows in his subject matter, his treatment of it and the statements he makes illustration after illustration. Rockwell was a gentle and kind man, but he understood the threats we all face every day and when he wasn't making fun of them, he was celebrating our victory over them.

Go see the exhibit. It's crowded, but Rockwell is worth every bit of the inconvenience. (And while you're at it, you can take a look at some famous George Washington paintings, furniture and personal artifacts in an adjoining gallery. It is truly a people's exhibit at the Taubman.)

(*Actually, it is PhotoShop's version of my photo of the exhibit, but it's fun to pretend.)

This one's my favorite. Easily.

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