Meeting Norman Rockwell

Meeting Norman Rockwell

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Norman Rockwell PortraitI first encountered noted American illustrator, Norman Rockwell, back in the last century when I was living in Seattle.

Sometimes he’d show up with the postman. Sometimes I’d find him at the local public library. Sometimes he’d be in a friend or relative’s home.

But whenever and wherever we crossed paths, he’d brighten my day.

Now, after an absence of forty overs or more, I ran into him again last week at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento where he’ll be “hanging out” through Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, 2013.

Rockwell’s Art

What I remember best about Rockwell were his painted Rockwell No_Swimming_-_Norman_Rockwell“stories” of the everyday lives of ordinary Americans which graced the covers of The Saturday Evening Post and Boys’ Life, the official magazine of the Boy Scouts of America. Both were immensely popular publications when I was growing up in the 1950’s.

In 1963, his 47-year relationship with The Saturday Evening Post ended and he began working for Look magazine. The Norman Rockwell Museum Website says:

During his 10-year association with Look, Rockwell painted pictures illustrating some of his deepest concerns and interests, including civil rights, America’s war on poverty, and the exploration of space.”

Those works, such as “The Problem We All Live With,” were unknown to me until I visited the exhibition of his work now on display at the Crocker Art Museum, “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell.”

The problem we all live with

Rockwell on Display

Rockwell Triple Self Portrait IMG_0697The Rockwell exhibit fills two spacious rooms on the museum’s third floor. A hallway outside of the main exhibit is lined with his famous covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

While the paintings and magazine covers themselves will rekindle childhood memories for the Baby Boomers who view them, the accompanying descriptions and other information in the exhibit provide all museum-goers with an insight into how Rockwell created his iconic images of 20th century America.

“Being Rockwell”

Rockwell Dick 1The Crocker Art Museum encourages you to recreate Rockwell’s 1960 “Triple Self Portrait” by having someone photograph you posing in front of a canvas and mirror, as the artist did, and then post that photo on social media and online photo sites.

It’s a fun way to begin your visit to the exhibit. Just sit on the stool, grab brush and palette, and have someone take a cellphone photo of you.

Here I am, pretending to be the artist that I never was, and never will be.

Other Art on Display

The Rockwell exhibit is located on the 3rd floor of the museum’s new wing, which opened in 2010. The museum’s original section is a 1872 Victorian-Italianate mansion, home to E.B. and Margaret Crocker. It’s worth seeing for its grand interior design, let alone the art on display there.

The Crocker Art Museum permanent collection includes:

  • California Art & American Art
  • Works on Paper
  • European Art
  • International Ceramics
  • Asian Art
  • African & Oceanic Art

Visiting the Crocker Art Museum

The Crocker Art Museum is open 10 am to 5 pm Tuesday-Sunday, except on Thursday when it remains open until 9 pm.

You’ll find the museum at 216 “O” Street in Sacramento. Click here for a map of its location and directions for reaching it.

Crocker Art Museum New WingLots that accept cash and credit cards for  $10 flat-fee unlimited time parking are located just north of the museum. There is also three-hour metered street parking nearby; one quarter buys you 12 minutes.

Museum admission (which includes the Rockwell exhibit) is $10 adults, $8 seniors 65 and older, $8 military and college students, $5 youths 7-17, free for children 6 and under, and for museum members.

You can lunch or have a snack in the Crocker Café on the first floor of the museum’s new wing. You’ll find the museum store on that level, too.

For more information, call (916) 808-7000.

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