November 2007 Issue
Eye on America
The Akron Art Museum celebrates the talent of Norman Rockwell.
Norman Rockwellâ€™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 â€“â€“ from â€œThe Discovery,â€ in which a youngster stumbles upon Santaâ€™s suit in a dresser drawer, to â€œGoing and Coming,â€ a familyâ€™s before-and-after, bright-to-bleary vacation experience.
But Rockwellâ€™s palette does include more than meets the eye. Itâ€™s also been a canvas for social conscience based on fact, as evidenced in â€œThe Problem We All Live With,â€ in which a stoic African-American child ignores the tomato thrown at her while on her way to integrating her elementary school, and â€œMurder in Mississippi,â€ depicting the aftermath following the slaying of three civil rights workers.
November 10 through February 3, the Akron Art Museum is showcasing the renowned artistâ€™s most revered works in â€œAmerican Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.â€ 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 â€œSaturday Evening Post,â€ 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 museumâ€™s curatorial assistant, the show provides the ideal opportunity to â€œfall in love with Rockwell all over again.
â€œThrough the years, a lot of his work has been reproduced on mugs and mousepads,â€ she explains, â€œso I donâ€™t think people realize what a fabulous, magnificent painter he was.
â€œAs this exhibit demonstrates, he really captured key moments in time and froze them forever.â€
Tillinger Schmid envisions the show being a multigenerational one â€” much like the familial composition of many a Rockwell painting â€” with grandparents and parents sharing stories with one another and their children, from the John F. Kennedy presidency to the moon landing.
â€œWhat we have here is basically an amazing history book,â€ she says.