Top News Stories: Norman Rockwell Bringing America to life!
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Special Report: Norman Rockwell 4:25
It was a brush with destiny. A young artist named Norman Rockwell had a dream: to do a Saturday Evening Post cover. To this end, he showed a painting of a lovely ballerina to his buddy, Clyde Forsythe. His friend’s reaction: “C-R-U-D! Terrible. Awful. Hopeless.” Apparently, Forsythe was not one to mince words. Then Forsythe picked up one of the illustrations Rockwell had done for Boys’ Life magazine. “Do that,” he said. Do what you’re best at—kids.”
This is the opening scene set by The Saturday Evening Post journalist, Diana Denny, in an article she wrote on February 2, 2012, to salute Norman Rockwell, an artist and American icon who illustrated covers for The Saturday Evening Post for 47 years.
If you’ve never seen one of the famous Norman Rockwell illustrations or paintings, look no further than Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a town Rockwell called home for 25 years.
The Norman Rockwell Museum of Stockbridge maintains Rockwell’s artistic legacy through a trust established by Rockwell in 1973. On November 30 to Dec 2, the town of Stockbridge held its 29th annual Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas celebration.
The town became famous after Norman Rockwell painted a scene he called Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas, which depicted the village during the holidays complete with vintage cars, holiday wreaths, and festive lights.
Rockwell began the illustration in the 1950s but did not finish until the 1960s. To bring the picture up to date, he added a 1960s car to each end of Main Street.
This illustration is very popular today and is considered to depict a typical rural New England town. It is even said that the town of Stockbridge has not changed very much over the years, except for the cars. The final day of the celebration was a re-enactment on the Sunday scene depicted in the illustration
Antique cars parked in the same spots occupied in the painting. Though the weather was damp, the town was filled with local residents and visitors enjoying horse-drawn rides, carolers dressed in vintage garb, and many other activities.
Reporter, Tabitha Smiles, talks with Barbara Zanetti, Executive Director at the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce and the organizer of this annual celebration.
And a true enjoyment it was for those of us at America Daily who attended. We also learned a lot about Norman Rockwell’s life.
Rockwell’s success can largely be attributed to his specific attention to everyday American life. His paintings are just like a scene you would see in an episode of “Leave it to Beaver,” the simple warmth of small-town life.
Rockwell had the knack for bringing out the goodness of family, freedom, and love for our country. His realistic and warm portraits of the country and the people around him evoked a sense of endless tradition, even as he realized the world was changing around him. He once said: “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it.”
In American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell- part 2, Rockwell was recorded as saying: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TO4kOmpyUM
For the Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell kept a charming and humorous approach in most of his more than 300 covers, depicting various aspects of wholesome family life.
But in 1943, Rockwell ventured into the issues of the day with his Four Freedoms paintings, inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
The paintings were toured across the United States and raised more than $130 million toward the war effort.
After leaving the Saturday Evening Post in 1963, Rockwell delved more into illustrating his personal concerns and interests in his illustrations for Look magazine.
In the painting called “The Problem, We All Live With” Rockwell depicts Ruby Bridges, a then 6-year-old African American girl who desegregated the all-white William Frantz Elementary School of New Orleans in 1960.
Norman Rockwell’s son, Peter Rockwell, a renowned sculptor, narrated a promotional video for a touring exhibition by the Norman Rockwell Museum. Of his father’s paintings in the 1960s, he said: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TO4kOmpyUM
A year before Norman Rockwell’s death at age 84, in 1978, Rockwell received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
We at America Daily wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and traditional holiday celebration.
To keep that spirit of traditional Christmas alive, please listen to this classic rendition of “Let it Snow” performed by the Main Street at Christmas carolers on Dec. 2nd.
This has been a special report, I’m Arleen Richards. Thank you for listening to America Daily.