Written by MaryAnn Bader, manager, Coast Guard Art Program.
You would be hard pressed to find a better snapshot of the service’s myriad missions than the one provided by the 2013 Coast Guard Art Program collection now on display at Federal Hall National Memorial in New York City.
This year’s collection, comprised of 29 works by 23 artists, includes works showing the service’s response to news-making events such as the Healy’s escort of the Russian oil tanker Renda in the Arctic and the response to Superstorm Sandy. Others depict boardings and inspections of recreational and commercial vessels, search and rescue cases, training exercises, patrols and aids to navigation. Some works even capture subjects never before recorded such as a helicopter hot refuel evolution and a helicopter ice landing.
Six of the works are the results of artists being sent on deployment to capture underrepresented assets and missions. One of these, “Steady as she goes,” by Ken Smith of Pulaski, Va., won the George Gray Award for artistic excellence, marking the third time Smith has won this prestigious award. In fact, all of Smith’s award-winning works are based on artist deployments. His 2013 painting shows a female servicemember steadying a hoist hook used in oil skimming operations during a contingency exercise on the Detroit River.
“I was really grateful for the opportunity to see firsthand how the Coast Guard crews easily and efficiently handled what seemed to me a very complex and difficult operation,” Smith noted in speaking about his deployment to Sector Detroit where he viewed the exercise. “I was impressed with the teamwork and the super positive attitude of all the Coasties and the very competent and decisive leadership of the servicemember depicted in my painting.”
The art program has been in existence since 1981. Today there are more than 1,800 works in the collection, which is testimony to the rich traditions, history and people of the Coast Guard.
We are tremendously grateful to our artists who volunteer their time and talent to make these striking contributions. Not only do these works immortalize our service as it meets dramatic challenges, they show what our servicemembers do every day as subjects befitting works of art.
The exhibit at Federal Hall will run through Sept. 9, 2013. The memorial is an apt venue as it shares history with the Coast Guard in the person of Alexander Hamilton. When Hamilton was secretary of the Treasury, he had offices at 26 Wall Street – site of the memorial – in what was the first building to serve as Capitol of the United States. As secretary, Hamilton established the Revenue Cutter Service.
If you find yourself in New York City this summer, Federal Hall is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.