As the seasons change, so do the displays at Norman Rockwell Museum. While we are busy preparing American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell for its European debut in Rome, Italy, we are also pleased to present a collection of rare and unique works by America’s favorite illustrator, right here in Stockbridge.
Recently loaned from the collection of the United States Bureau of Reclamation, Glen Canyon Dam (1969) is a striking showcase of Norman Rockwell’s socially conscious work from the latter part of his career.
Norman Rockwell was one of 40 American artists who were commissioned by the Bureau in the late 1960s to create works inspired by its water reclamation projects. In October of 1969, Rockwell arrived in Page, Arizona with his wife Molly, and toured the area with the Bureau’s public relations team; according to public affairs officer Will Rusho, the artist asked “where’s some human interest,” when presented with the idea to paint the dam. Rusho drove the Rockwells to a nearby town, where they met Navajo John Lane and his family, who are depicted in the final illustration.
In her book, Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America, author Jane Allen Petrick comments that “in the rigid back of John Lane, the drooping shoulders of his son, the fixed glare of his wife, even the bewildered expression of the dog, Rockwell painted not only the dam, but more significantly, the Indians’ condemning reaction to it.” In her own Rockwell biography, Norman Rockwell: A Life, Laura Claridge points out that the painting “appears almost subversively at odds with the commission Rockwell had been given.”
Other works currently on view at the Museum include the loans, Willie Gillis in Convoy (1943), The Gossips (1948), and Crestwood Train Station (1946); Army of Friendship (1933) and A Good Scout (1935), two beautiful early Boy Scout paintings, recently donated to the Museum by the model who appears in both; and a gallery of drawings and studies created by the prolific artist.
There’s always something new to see at Norman Rockwell Museum—we look forward to seeing you soon.