This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day to remember all those brave people who served our country to keep us free and safe. Thank you!
In addition to remembering and honoring our war heroes, I hope to show you some really cool paintings done out of the throes of war. Throughout history visual artist made images because of the need to tell stories. We have seen that early artists scratched out scenes of hunts on cave walls. And, we have seen the illustrations from the Bible. Other historical events were recorded by artist depicting battles won and political rulers. As we know most artists create from their lives; happiness, pain and sorrow. That is why so many songs are of love or broken hearts. The same goes for visual art. Walk into any city museum and you will find war-art. For example this painting is hanging at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City.
This is one of the most famous pieces of American war-art. This is a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. The painting was done by Emanuel Leutze a German artist who lived in America as a boy. It is a very dramatic representation of the night in which General Washington leads his men across the treacherous river to surprise attack the British on Christmas Eve 1776. When looking at the painting you see General Washington standing dramatically leading the men across the river. The truth; it was dark cold and the river was fierce. They crossed during a huge snowstorm and completed at 3:00am.
The painting portrays Washington leading his men out of a stormy darkness into a new dawn of freedom. The symbolism is awesome! There are too many interesting things to say about this painting because I want to keep my blog a quick and easy read. But, one interesting thing is there are two future presidents in the boat. They are James Madison and James Monroe. Monroe is holding the flag. No one knows if they were all in the same boat that night but it does express the importance and intensity of their plan. The image with the “Betsy Ross” flag is another interesting part of this painting because that particular flag design came into existence about six months after the crossing. It is interesting to see how an artist such as Leutze uses his own “creative license.” This particular painting is a big example of that. Nonetheless, it is a remarkable painting and sure does conjure up some strong patriotic feelings when looking at it. Go Washington!
Daryl G. Bruckshen painted by Donna Bruckshen (my mom)
I am sure many of you have a loved one who has served in the military. Me too; one of these people was my step dad, Daryl Bruckshen. He was a US Marine and served active duty and reserve status from 1957 to 1969. He served in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. He was one of those tough yet sensitive guys. I remember him telling me about flying to Vietnam. It sounded a bit scary. He was an aircraft radio operator and a very proud US Marine. Sadly he died of cancer in May of 2007. Miss you dad! Another loved one who serves is my nephew Scott. He is in training right now to be a pilot for the Air Force. He is a brave man who is just starting out his career. He is graduating this summer from Pilot training school and then will learn what aircraft he will be flying for the Air Force. He also is getting married this summer too! Congratulations Scott!
One of America’s most treasured artists is Norman Rockwell. Do you remember seeing his art on the newsstands for the Saturday Evening Post? Norman Rockwell was an illustrator and painter. He is interesting because he focused his painting on the individual, the characteristic American traits of warmth, humility and humor. The paintings I want to show you are what are called the Four Freedoms.
Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want, Freedom of worship and Freedom of speech.
The four Freedoms were outlined by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union address, and Rockwell completed the paintings of them during World War II as his contribution to the war effort. I have included that link below.
My painting for today’s blog is a copy of “Our Banner in the Sky” by Frederic Edwin Church 1861. This is one of the paintings displayed in a major exhibition at the Smithsonian showing the Best of Civil War era. I found this painting to be extremely patriotic and moving. I have attached the article in which it and other civil war paintings have changed war art. While I painted this my patriotic emotions started bubbling out. I have strong feelings for American life especially after living abroad for so long. I always knew deep in my heart how I loved my country but being away from it has brought me closer to my home country.
Some of you probably don’t know that I served my country too. When I was 19 years old I joined the US Air Force Reserves. At the time I didn’t have the means of going to college. But, I knew I didn’t want to serve burgers for the rest of my life. A girl friend of mine had mentioned the idea of joining and I said let’s do it! My step sister Brenda had just completed her first year of Air Force Reserves and could tell me all about it. So, I enlisted together with my friend. I have to admit I was a bit of a “Private Benjamin” if anyone knows what that means. After Boot Camp, I continued to Technical school in Texas where I learned all kinds of crazy things about airplanes, fork lifts, loading and unloading aircraft. It was fun and I was at the top of my class. The Air Force was a great move for me. I felt great about serving my country while at the same time I grew up. I learned more about myself during that time than in any other time in my life. I realized how valuable I was as an individual and as a team-mate. I never participated in a dangerous mission but was put on 24 hour status during the Gulf War. And, I did a two-week tour at McChord Air Force base during that time. After eight years of service I left the Air Force with an honorable discharge and with the honor of receiving the Air Force Achievement Medal. I had started out at an airman basic (meaning no rank) and left a Staff Sargent. I am proud to be an American and I am proud to have served.
I wanted to bring some patriotic art on this Memorial Day. Millions have lost their lives in combat. Today we remember those brave men and women who served their country to the fullest. Let’s just take a few minutes to think of those brave people who have given their lives or have served our country.
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Links for you:
Article about Smithsonian’s best of Civil War Art
Metropolitan Art Museum-Washington crossing the Delaware
US history web page article about Washington Crossing the Delaware
Norman Rockwell Museum
Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Speech (1941)