November 2007 Issue
Eye on America
The Akron Art Museum celebrates the talent of Norman Rockwell.
Norman Rockwell’s keen eye and steadfast artistry never failed to capture the unforgettable facets of 20th-century America. Most are feel-good images guaranteed to bring a smile –– from “The Discovery,” in which a youngster stumbles upon Santa’s suit in a dresser drawer, to “Going and Coming,” a family’s before-and-after, bright-to-bleary vacation experience.
But Rockwell’s palette does include more than meets the eye. It’s also been a canvas for social conscience based on fact, as evidenced in “The Problem We All Live With,” in which a stoic African-American child ignores the tomato thrown at her while on her way to integrating her elementary school, and “Murder in Mississippi,” depicting the aftermath following the slaying of three civil rights workers.
November 10 through February 3, the Akron Art Museum is showcasing the renowned artist’s most revered works in “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.” Organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the exhibit spans six decades and includes original oil paintings that were reproduced as magazine covers for the “Saturday Evening Post,” tear sheets for 323 covers the artist created during his 47-year career with the periodical, personal correspondence, and photographs.
For Allison Tillinger Schmid, the museum’s curatorial assistant, the show provides the ideal opportunity to “fall in love with Rockwell all over again.
“Through the years, a lot of his work has been reproduced on mugs and mousepads,” she explains, “so I don’t think people realize what a fabulous, magnificent painter he was.
“As this exhibit demonstrates, he really captured key moments in time and froze them forever.”
Tillinger Schmid envisions the show being a multigenerational one — much like the familial composition of many a Rockwell painting — with grandparents and parents sharing stories with one another and their children, from the John F. Kennedy presidency to the moon landing.
“What we have here is basically an amazing history book,” she says.