What Would Rockwell Say?

And by say, I mean paint.

With all of the rancor, discord, and divisiveness that is now so pervasive, there are a myriad of topics to choose from.  Rockwell was not political.  He painted presidents, both Republican and Democratic, but if you asked him, he likely would not say whom he voted for.  However, Rockwell did have opinions.  Most admirers of his work really did not see Rockwell expressing his personal viewpoints until 1961, when his Golden Rule painting appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. His message was simple, but powerful: “Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do Unto You.”  All people, regardless of their color or beliefs, deserved kindness and respect.

Rockwell continued to reflect this opinion in several paintings during the 1960’s, and by his involvement with the NAACP, an organization with a goal of ensuring the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons, and to eliminate race-based discrimination.  Most people are unaware of Rockwell’s engagement with the organization, which began in 1963.  That year he offered to give the NAACP an original painting to use as a poster for national distribution. Through a generous donation, Rockwell became life member of the NAACP in that same year.  He also served on the “Committee of 100” to raise money for their Legal Defense and Education Fund.  A few years later, through his continued financial support, he became a member of the organizations “Million Dollar Club.”  As was Rockwell’s way, all of these acts were done quietly, without publicity or fanfare.

So, what would he paint?  We can’t say for certain, but Rockwell being Rockwell, he would not mock or disparage.  He would however, try to tell the story of who we are today. It would be nice to believe that the moral of the story would be that, if you really look, we are all more alike than we are different.

— Venus Van Ness

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