LOOKING FORWARD TO A BETTER FUTURE
Norman Rockwell painted our cover image, From Concord to Tranquility, in 1971, and it was used to illustrate the Boy Scouts of America calendar in 1973. Rockwell—who famously painted hundreds of covers for the Saturday Evening Post—also painted dozens of illustrations for the Boy Scout magazine Boy’s Life, and for the Scouts’ annual calendars from 1925 to 1976. The people who hired him wanted their audiences to believe they were holding a mirror up to American life. But paintings are nothing like mirrors.
Despite some paintings that acknowledge the Civil Rights struggle, and despite his occasional inclusion of People of Color in a token way, Rockwell overwhelmingly portrayed a simplified, small-town America. What would he have painted, had he been alive and working these last few years? How would the artist who painted Ruby Bridges being escorted to school by four deputy US Marshals as she walked past racist graffiti on her way to an all-white school (The Problem We All Live With) have portrayed George Floyd, or Tamir Rice, or crowds of people chanting “Build the wall,” or “Lock her up?” How would he have portrayed refugee children in cages, or the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol on January 6? Odds are that his clients would not have hired him to paint those scenes.
We are a nation on the mend. At least we hope so. We’ve got this optimistic painting by Norman Rockwell on our cover because a collection of his paintings for the Boy Scouts gave occasion for the creation of a new institution—the Medici Museum, in Howland, Ohio, just outside of Youngstown. Writer Erin O’Brien explores the history and significance of what transpired there.
This issue of CAN is filled with the complexity of America in the twentieth century. In our Members Report section, galleries continue to confront the challenge of presenting exhibits during a pandemic. Artist Mister Soul and Deep Roots Experience proprietor David Ramsey discuss the absence of People of Color among the artists who applied to be juried into a local organization’s members exhibit, for which Ramsey served as juror. Deep Dive—a new printmaking venture and art consultancy—announces its existence, along with a couple of shows. And Photo Fest looks ahead to another year. Of course, there’s much more.
In our Editorial section, besides the story of how 65 Norman Rockwells arrived in Howland, Jimi Izrael talks with MOCHA founder Antwoine Washington about creating more supportive arts infrastructure for People of Color. Kelsi Carter talks with Amanda D. King about her own creative work. Anastasia Pantsios talks with Mary Urbas about the history of the From WOMAN show at Lakeland Community College. We talk to letterpresser Shadi Ayoub, who immigrated from Lebanon and opened a print studio here. We mourn the passing of John W. Carlson, and hope for all the productive days Arabella Proffer can muster.
We’ve got a new president, and vaccines are finally reaching more of the population. We’ve got a long way to go before gatherings are safe again, before performing artists and audiences can return to stages, before we’re back to anything like “normal.” But we see what the challenges are, and all this work and dialog feel like progress.
We look forward to seeing you.