Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Norman Rockwell

A few weeks ago, NPR did a feature on an unusual reunion and an interview with the youngest attendee, who was 57 years old.  What makes the reunion unusual is that all the attendees were at one time from Stockbridge, MA, and all were subjects either of a photograph taken by Norman Rockwell or had literally sat for one of his more than four-thousand paintings.

Most of us, “of an age” relate to his work through his covers of the Saturday Evening Post but before and during that episode of his life, he did regular monthly cover art for the Boy Scout’s magazine, Boy’s Life.  For his more than fifty years work for that magazine he was awarded the Silver Buffalo.  Other works of note include:

·         Popular Mechanics covers

·         Calendar art, including The Four Seasons

·         The Four Freedoms, two “from” and two “to”

·         A self-portrait to honor his 75th birthday year

·         Several Civil Rights subjects including, Problems We All Face about school integration

Freedom of Speech
·         Apparel, including a tie titled Breaking Home, the original selling for $15.4 million

·         Several film-related projects including one original each in George Lucas’ and Steven Spielberg’s collections

He actually did not begin to use models for his art exclusively until 1943, when a fire destroyed many of his apparel items and forced him to emphasize portrait art.  He did actual portraits of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, and Johnson as well as a 1969 portrait of Judy Garland.

He was not recognized as a serious artist until relatively late in life, although his influence was vast and across the board.  He died in 1978 at the age of 84.

Problems We All Face
I have a niece who has embarked on an ambitious task; to pint one painting a week, with a Yoga theme.  To date she is on week 33 of year five.  While she might have to pick up the pace to match Rockwell, she might do that as she is expanding her art to include apparel, note cards, stationary, and other items; all Yoga related.  You can check out her site at her web page:   Theresa Hutch is one of eight daughters of my sister-in-law who lives right on Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The variety of the girls, women now, actually, would make for an interesting story.  Theresa is probably the most artistic, but her siblings have demonstrated flair for writing, equestrian therapy, community service, music, mathematics, language, and sales.  There are probably other talents which have escaped me. Certainly a diverse and talented family.

In my next Post, I will share an exhibit that Mary and I attended at the Los Angeles County Museum of art: featuring Guillermo del Toro.  I think you will find it interesting, and I hope you will join me.

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Recently my grandson celebrated his twelfth birthday.  Mary and I picked out an appropriate card and as usual each penned a short note to celebrate the occasion.  We were surprised when he opened the card and said to our son, “I can’t read this.”

It turns out that in his school they no longer teach cursive.

My son isn’t concerned commenting, “My penmanship was always a little suspect anyway.” Others I have shared this story with also point out that the exercise of writing will be phased out as voice recognition improves.  My wife’s concern as to how they will sign anything prompts a response that few signatures are recognizable anyway.  No one seems overly concerned that the only weak point in my grandson’s development is small motor acuity (which is developed in learning handwriting).

And it may be more isolated than I think.  Another friend, with a similar-aged child in the same general school system says his son’s school still teaches “handwriting”.

I was reminded of several other periods in my life when major changes in education were predicted to have cataclysmic negative effects.

About 25 years ago there was a major change in secondary education: specifically, Fine Arts practically disappeared from the curricula.  Mary graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and is one of the best-rounded persons I know.  I expected that we would never see books or film that reference the classics, and yet the Coen brothers, not known for their high-minded intellectualism, came out with O Brother Where Art Thou?  Screen credits for story went to Homer.

As the years have gone by, there are many other examples that show the curiosity of the creative mind that have kept the classics alive and an inspiration to current and future generations.

Well before fine arts became unnecessary, I was concerned when Latin was no longer taught in schools.  Mary and I both had at least two years of Latin.  One thought at the time was that Latin provided a foundation for understanding the English language.  I helped in spelling too.  As a matter of fact, I have a better-than-average vocabulary and, while in high school, went to the Regional finals in Spelling competition.

But my older son was in a vocabulary class in high school, taught by a teacher who changed her name and still writes as Elizabeth George.  His vocabulary probably exceeds mine.  As time has passed I find it increasingly difficult to work the phrase “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” into any normal conversation.  Maybe Latin wasn’t as important as I thought it was.

Does anyone here read Script?
I was somewhat concerned when I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker that depicted a group of our Founding Fathers, wigs, quill pens and all, gathered at a table where one of them turns and asks rhetorically, “Does anyone here read Script?”  What if my grandson can’t read the Declaration of Independence?  Luckily, I found a copy of it and the Constitution, perhaps sent to me by Khizr Kahn.  This is printed in block letters.  Whew!

In my next post I will share some recent and not so recent facts I have found on Norman Rockwell.  I think you will find it interesting.