There is no need to look to the depths of your soul to gain insight and pleasure from Norman Rockwell paintings. Hailed as one of the most popular artist of this country, Norman Rockwell has touched the hearts and souls of all of us with the timeless spirit of “Americana” captured in his work. Even those who have never set foot in an art museum have seen his Saturday Evening Post covers. I doubt there are many who can claim Norman Rockwell’s art has not caused us to nod our heads in silent recognition of everyday life. Let’s have a look at some of Norman Rockwell’s “not quite so famous” work. Click on my own “descriptive” titles to view the art.
Dads everywhere send their sons to college, and many experience the tongue tied discomfort of not sharing their true feelings. In these bittersweet times of separation and hope, Rockwell’s intermediate is the family dog extending his paw to the son and looking at dad as if to say, “Hug him.”
Camaraderie and Hunting. Rockwell makes us smile inside with his subtle ironies of life. There are three steps taken in viewing many of his paintings. The first is “Isn’t this one nice.” The next is the second, closer look, and the third is the absurdity of having seen the scene hundreds of times in life, without realizing the humor.
New Neighbors might remind us of Norman Rockwell’s image of little Ruby Bridges surrounded by federal marshals, going to school. “New Neighbors” takes the social disgrace of those years out of the equation, and highlights the curiosity, commonality, and very powerful potential for acceptance that all children have.
Outing Santa. Not many can look at this and not vicariously relive the shock and disappointment of Santa being “outed”. Actually, I think Rockwell was pulling our leg when he painted this. Everyone knows that Santa could have left his clothes in that drawer by mistake.
Sunday Morning reminds me of my own father, who considered himself a “Home Baptist”. I can’t count the mornings we trotted past him, my sister and I dressed in Sunday best, and my mother holding her head high, her disapproval obvious.
Crackers in Bed is a tribute to kids everywhere. Try as parents may, there will always be some kid somewhere sneaking a snack into his or her bedroom. It is a rite of passage, the first of many back door ways to pull one over on the parents. Of course, the book has been replaced by televisions, iPods, and laptops, but the suggested “challenge” for the kids is timeless.
The Return Home is especially poignant, still. To me this depicts the “old fashioned” respect we are once again extending to our armed forces. A very, very young soldier, representing the majority of our military, comes home to the simplicity of the life he left behind. His humility is exemplified by his surroundings, and yet his honor is intensified by the attention he unknowingly commands from those that have also returned, and those that have yet to go.
I said in the beginning that we would be looking at the “not so famous” art of Norman Rockwell; however, any discussion of Rockwell by me would not be complete without what I consider to be his most important series. “The Four Freedoms” speaks for itself. What more can be said about what Norman Rockwell portrays, and what we as Americans represent.