The images captured on the covers Norman Rockwell painted for The Saturday Evening Post are more than mere paint on canvas.
They are a record of a growing nation as it endured two wars, watched Charles Lindbergh take flight and entered the Civil Rights era, said Tom Daly, curator of education at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.
The images “really give us a pretty good view of the majority of the 1900s,” he said. Daly will offer presentations at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at The Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave., to give audience members a peek into the historical background of the artist’s work and his creative process.
The presentations are free and are offered in conjunction with a temporary display at the Museum of Northwest Colorado showcasing all 323 covers Rockwell illustrated for The Saturday Evening Post.
The events are designed to give residents “a greater depth of understanding of Rockwell and his work, but also maybe how he viewed the world and how his work is viewed by … people in our nation,” said Mary Pat Dunn, Museum of Northwest Colorado registrar.
The Norman Rockwell Museum has offered similar presentations at locations from coast to coast in keeping with Rockwell’s vision.
“It’s an opportunity for the museum to fulfill one of the things that Rockwell had encouraged us to do,” said Daly, who has worked at the museum for about 15 years.
In addition to touching on historical changes during Rockwell’s time, Daly plans to discuss the illustrator’s work from his models’ perspective.
As Rockwell painted, he often asked his models about their hobbies and interests, trying to get a glimpse of who they were, Daly said.
“Many people believe that might have been the thing that helped him as he created these very realistic-looking images of people,” he said.
The curator also plans to shed light on how Rockwell created his cover illustrations during his career with The Saturday Evening Post, which stretched from 1916 to 1963.
The process wasn’t fast or easy.
Painting one cover usually took three to six months, Daly said.
“You look at the images and they just seem so lifelike and so real, it almost seems like he could’ve just done that really quickly after he peered out of his window,” Daly said. “But they were all very carefully crafted in order to tell a certain story.”
Storytelling wasn’t simply a pleasing side note to Rockwell’s illustrations.
Instead, it was the reason he put brush to canvas.
“Rockwell felt the story was the first thing and the last thing,” Daly said. “He often said that about his work.”
Through his paintings, Rockwell “gives us almost the invitation to be part of all of these events, whether they’re large or small,” he said. “It gives us a chance to connect with people from other generations and other times.”
The Rockwell exhibit, on display through Sept. 28., can be viewed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Museum of Northwest Colorado, 590 Yampa Ave.
For more information about Saturday’s presentations, call the museum at 824-6360.
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