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Comments at an Exhibition: Visitors Respond to Rockwell
December 15, 2010


Norman Rockwell, Boy and Father: Homework, Four Seasons Calendar, 1962, oil on canvas, Collection of George Lucas, © Brown and Bigelow

With the exhibition Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg closing on January 2nd, we wanted to share some of the comments visitors have shared with us, both online as well as in notebooks in the gallery at American Art. The comments have enabled us to hear back from viewers, making the experience a two-way street. As you might have expected, Rockwell struck a chord with many visitors who found themselves drawn into his images and world, and perhaps sharing a Rockwell moment of their own. People from around the country and around the world contributed comments. The exhibition seemed to bring the generations together, as one visitor commented: "I grew up with ‘Saturday Evening Post’ covers. My son grew up with Star Wars. Showing him these covers helps connect us further. Thanks for the memories." Here are a handful more:

"Thank you to George & Steven for sharing your wonderful collections with all of us. It’s a beautiful vision and gives us a joy to see."

"I am only ten, but, I have a favorite artist…His name is Norman Rockwell. He is able to take those pure moments that all of us have, and turn them into art."

"Gracias por esta maravillosa exposición. Rockwell nos hace ser mejores personas." [Thank you for this marvelous show. Rockwell makes us better people.]

"Some artists strive to capture the physical. NR also captured those emotions that make us human."

"As a boy in the 30s & early 40s I delivered hundreds, even thousands, of copies of "The Saturday Evening Post." What memories this glorious exhibition brings back. Thank you."

"These are the stained glass windows of the American cathedral. Thank you for sharing them with us."

"Rarely have I ever been to an exhibit where there was so much interaction between the viewers—people making comments to strangers, laughing, smiling at one another. That is what makes Rockwell such an important artist."

"I served in Iraq and will soon go to Afghanistan. If other nations had their own Rockwell we would have more friends in the world and fewer enemies and wars."

"I have more of a sense of American history and American spirit after seeing these pictures than after all the monuments combined."

"I was born in Colombia, South America and learned about the USA reading Saturday Evening Post which my dad received after living in NYC from 1919 till 1927. My dream was to move to the USA! I made that dream a reality when I came in 1966…Norman Rockwell showed to me the beauty and wisdom of this privileged land of opportunity. My three sons and eight grandchildren owe a great deal to SEP and Norman Rockwell."

"Norman Rockwell paintings have always given me a nostalgic and wonderful feeling. Since I was a child I've felt a personal connection to his work. Marble Champion - the painting of two boys and a young girl playing marbles on the sidewalk does in fact have a personal connection to my family and our history. My grandfather is featured in this painting. He is the dark haired boy with the striped shirt, bent over with the puzzled look on his face as the young girl and apparent "marble champion" teach he and his friend a lesson in playing the game.. He was a child model and helped his family through financial hardships during The Great Depression with the money he earned posing for ads and paintings by various artists of his time. I am told by my grandmother that he was depicted in two Norman Rockwell paintings - this one, featured in the Saturday Evening Post in 1939 and another that did not make the Post that I've never seen. Throughout the years I've seen prints of this oil painting on everything from calendars to coffee mugs, in stores and at friend's homes... Most times when I've said "hey, that's my grandfather" the reaction is 'yeah right... sure it is.' But it is in fact him, and I'm proud to know that as I type this, he's hanging on the walls of the Smithsonian!"

People have really responded to the exhibition, to Rockwell as an artist, and to his place in their lives. Many people have written to say that they've identified strongly with a certain image, or a particular person in the painting. Rockwell had the ability to make you see your life before you. It seems that if there wasn't a Norman Rockwell in the last century, somebody would have had to invent him.

Do you have a story to tell? It's not too late to add your own comments. During the holidays (December 26–January 2) the Rockwell show will open at 10 a.m. instead of our normal 11:30 a.m. If you can't visit the exhibition, you can add your comments online.

Posted by Howard on December 15, 2010 in American Art Here


Magazines were windows into the world when I was growing up: Life and the Post. Oddly, they figured larger than TV. I grew up on the West Coast where I still live, though have enjoyed visits to DC and the Smithsonian. They're not easy to come by when you have livestock. Thanks for the virtual visits.

I too, visited the Norman Rockwell show at the American Art Museum. I was in awe of the beautiful, crisp, colorful and emotion inspiring paintings.

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