1 - The Collections Committee at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, meets quarterly to consider loan requests/proposals. At the last meeting only two requests were approved by the committee, those of Sumter County Gallery of Art and a museum in Munich, Germany.
2 - Mahoney had to come to Sumter to unpack, inspect and place the painting. He remarked when Watson picked him up at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport that it was one of his favorite airports - he had flown in for the Columbia Museum of Art's major Rockwell exhibition in 2015, which also came from the Norman Rockwell Museum.
3 - "The Recruit" was a story illustration for Look magazine. In 1966, Look magazine's sports editor Gerald Astor reported on the competition among colleges to recruit student athletes. The specter of recruiting talented high school athletes who might not meet or maintain academic standards emerged in the mid 1960s, and the temptation by colleges to lure talent through extravagant inducements was already rumored. To illustrate Astor's piece, Rockwell chose a football coach, trainer and student to pose for his painting.
4 - Although some viewers have speculated that the football player was a University of Washington "Husky" - because of the colors and the W - the player and coach were actually from nearby Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
5 - Rockwell based the football player on Michelangelo's sculpture of Giuliano de'Medici, showing his model a photo of the sculpture to help him assume the pose.
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).
For more information, contact Watson at (803) 775-0543 or email@example.com. Visit the gallery's website at www.sumtergallery.org.
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