The Fourth of July

JULY 2, 2011
I am very proud to be part of an exhibition at The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virgina, titled "Arts and Stripes" featuring artwork contributed from the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Naval Arts Collection, the US Air Force Arts Program including members from the Society of Illustrators, the Combat Paper Project as well as from contemporary combat artists and the Joe Bonham Project, of which I am also a member.  It will be running through July 31st.  If you are in the northern Virginia area please stop in and view the artwork on display.  It's off Rt. 95. 
I continue to draw wounded warriors from the theaters of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, traveling with Michael D. Fay, USMC retired, and Robert Bates currently a combat artist with the Corps.  We were recently at Bethesda Naval Hospital and a Troops First Foundation sponsored event at the Chevy Chase Golf Club, the David Feherty IED of Golf, drawing wounded soldiers and Marines.  Michael was collecting stories and commentary from a number of these brave and resilient warriors on videotape.  He's perfect for this as he speaks the language and can so ask the right questions.  Robert and I were doing as many drawings as possible.  Here are some of the more successful images.
Another wounded Marine whose matter of factness in retelling the events surrounding his injuries was startling. I think what struck me most about Corporal Steve Tillman, who received advanced medical as part of his training in the Corps, was his recounting about calmly examining and evaluating his condition and the nature of his injuries AFTER stepping on the IED and before being attended to and evacuated.

While at Bethesda I asked how Sgt. Jason Ross from EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) was doing since we last saw him. He was returning from ER and we were told we could stop by and see him. He looked remarkable better from the previous visit and was receiving an evaluation from his surgeon as to his level of improvement from all the skin graftings. He listened with a calm intensity to the 'good news,not so good news' review. It seemed, to my non-professional ears, that the news was predominantly positive. Looney Tunes was playing on the Cartoon Channel on his TV. Some great Bugs Bunny. We enjoyed a nice conversation. He seemed pleased with the portraits I had posted on Drawger. We talked about the Academy Award winning THE HURT LOCKER. I asked him if he had ever seen it. "Unfortunately." was his response. Nicely put, he and his fellow EOD members were not impressed. He was hungry. More than anything else Jason just wanted to eat a lunch and was concerned that his meal was forgotten about because he was in surgery during lunchtime. He made several calls while we hung with him. As with the last time we saw him, he was also looking forward to his next haircut.

Sgt. Olson was wounded in 2003 in Iraq. He had a great smile and was very willing to share his story with Michael for videotape.

I noted that one of the wounded warriors at this Troops First event was not in the same age group of most of the attendees. He had a very characterful face and I had to catch him as quickly as possible since everyone was driving around from hole to hole quickly. I later introduced myself to him and showed him the drawing. Jim Mayer is the founder of the Wounded Warrior Project, a Vietnam vet and a tireless advocate for proper care for vets.

Sgt. Brian Mancini suffered massive wounds to his head. He has had major reconstruction of his face and still suffers frequent headaches. One would never guess it from his spontaneous good humor and generosity of spirit. He was the focus of a recent CBS news story which will run as a feature in a future 60 Minutes program. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/08/eveningnews/main20070153.shtml?tag=mncol;lst;1

I regret that I didn't get a chance to spend more time with Scott Schroeder. He watched the activities as the passenger from his golf cart, driven by legendary golf master, Butch Harmon. More times than not they were gone and to the next hole before I could swing the sketch pad around in his direction. But I liked the way this drawing turned out and he and his wife seemed quite pleased as well.

Scene from the opening at The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA.

LCpl. Robert Bates, USMC combat artist, Marian Youorski, LCpl. Kyle Carpenter, USMC, and myself standing in front of a portrait Robert did of Marian's son, Wes Laney, USMC.

My wife, Terri, unable to control herself in conversation with Kyle and his mother at the reception.

Real deal combat artists Robert Bates and Michael Fay and the novice soon to get his taste. The painting right above is the one I did of Sgt. Jason Ross that was posted on Drawger.

Talking with US Congressman Gerry Connolly. We arrived with friends at the reception. I was pretty sure that I'd have a few pieces culled from the USAF Art Program in the exhibit. I was not prepared to walk in and see an entire section of my work for the Air Force. It was both humbling and a thrill. Marti Kirkpatrick, the curator of the show, grouped the images in the show from training through service and sacrifices, and consequences, of actual combat. This section was composed of images I had made of Special Ops- Combat Control units and the ParaRescue teams, images I've posted here on Drawger- in training.

Sgt. Kris Battles (background) and LCpl. Robert Bates talking with a fellow Marine at the reception.

Elsy Morataya from the USAF Art Program in front of a painting by chairman of the Government Services Committee at the Society of Illustrators, John Witt. The USAFAP were enthusiastic contributors to the exhibition. As I understand it, Elsy walked through the Pentagon with Workhouse curator Marti Kirpatrick and just took artwork off the walls. It was a pleasure seeing Elsy and her photographer husband, Andrew, at the reception.

Michael Fay, in white jacket, talking to curator Marti Kirkpatrick and her husband. Marti Kirkpatrick gave a beautiful opening commentary on the exhibition and did not mention that she is a Gold Star mother herself, having lost a son in the current wars. Michael asked her why she didn't call attention to that in the opening remarks and she admitted quite frankly she might have lost her composure doing so. This is a small way of acknowledging the loss she and her husband have suffered and a thank you for her incredible efforts in putting together such a strong exhibit.

© 2024 Victor Juhasz