Norman Rockwell fans and those who weren't yet born when his paintings often served as cover art for The Saturday Evening Post magazine are "stop(ped) in their tracks" when they see a Rockwell original on display at Sumter County Gallery of Art, says gallery director Karen Watson.
The painting is part of the gallery exhibition, "Serious Fun," which comprises works by 12 artists who use playfulness and fun in their works. Former gallery curator Zach Eichelberger wrote a proposal to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, requesting "Four Sporting Boys," a suite of four paintings featuring the same four boys playing baseball, golf, football and basketball. While those paintings were already committed to an exhibition at the Rockwell Museum, Watson said the Sumter gallery was approved for 'The Recruit."
Watson, who also worked closely with Martin Mahoney, curator of collections at the Rockwell Museum, said, "There have been a number of visitors through the gallery" since "Serious Fun" opened April 21 " ... and they stand in front of the painting, which is displayed in the Ackerman Gallery, seemingly awestruck. 'The Recruit' elicits glowing comments - it is a real conversation starter."
Gallery visitors can get a close look at "The Recruit," seeing Rockwell's brush strokes and the terrain of the painting, rather than the "flat' illustrations seen often on magazine covers and calendars in the past.
The iconic Rockwell "is accessible to a public that is sometimes unsure about art," Watson continued. "His paintings provide an avenue into art and also stir memories in the viewer as well as a sense of nostalgia. 'The Recruit' looks out onto a gallery full of artworks by younger, emerging artists, all of which share a connection through play and whimsy."
Watson advises, "Don't miss this chance to see a true American master right here in Sumter."
"Serious Fun," including "The Recruit," will be on display through June 17 at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, 200 Hasell St., in the Sumter County Cultural Center (Patriot Hall).