Sunday, January 15, 2017

Norman Rockwell: Native New Yorker. Who knew?

Source: NY Daily News June 9, 2016
The other day I was taking the Broadway bus uptown to Bank Street School when I noticed that there was a previously un-noticed sign on West 103rd Street. Now, NYC is famous for honorifically naming streets after famous people connected to a particular block, you can see them all over the city. In fact, there are approximately 1,550 honorific street names throughout the five boroughs, including historic figures, athletes, 9-11 victims, educators, actors, actresses, playwrights. You can find out all about these honored folks and more at NYC Honorific Streets.

Still, I was surprised to see Norman Rockwell, an artist I always associate with Massachusetts, The Saturday Evening Post and WWII. It turns out that Norman Rockwell was born right here in the Bigh Apple at 206 West 103rd Street (FYI: don't bother to Google the address, his building is gone and replaced by a newer one). And thanks to some very persistent high school students from Edward R. Reynolds West Side High School, who campaigned and petitioned their Community Board and City Hall, Norman Rockwell has received his street honorific designation.

After seeing the sign last Thursday, I started thinking about Rockwell and his paintings. And that led my thoughts to Willie Gillis. Willie Gillis is a series of paintings Rockwell did for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Willie was actually based on a real person, Robert Buck, who passed away in 2011. There are 11 paintings all together, following Willie from new recruit through the war and finally a college man studying under the G.I. Bill, though only eight were on the cover. You can read all about how Willie became Rockwell's model HERE.

The Willie Gillis painting are some of my favorite Rockwell paintings. *sigh* I look at them whenever I need to remember that no matter how bad things may get, we will get through them.

I thought I would share the covers with you today:

If you are ever in the Stockbridge, Massachusetts area, be sure to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum, it's a wonderful place to spend some time in and it's even kid-friendly. The museum also posts videos on their YouTube channel, which you can find HERE

Below is a talk give on YouTube called Private Passion: Rockwell, Willie Gillis, and American Obsession in World War II presented by James Kimble, PhD, a professor at Seton Hall University.  It is 37 minutes long, but well worth watching.

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea Rockwell was born in the Big Apple. I have gone to Stockbridge and nearby towns in Massachusetts many times over the years, but I have never been to the museum. It has been on my list of things to do- so I hope to get there in 2017. How long should one plan to stay at the museum? I am not sure how big it is- so I am not sure how much time I will need to put aside the next time I am near it. :)