By Allyson Oken
“The Military Experience in Art: Protecting Freedom,” will be at Studios on the Park from Aug. 6 to Aug. 28, featuring just a portion of the vast military art collections of the Estrella Warbird Museum and Camp Roberts Historical Museum.
Estrella Warbird Museum Curator and Art History and Global Visual Culture professor, Jill Thayer, Ph.D. discovered the vast collections of historical wartime art after taking up the positions with the museum in 2015. She said that there was enough art to create a new wing at the Warbird Museum and felt hosting an art show to share just a fraction of the work would spark interest in the community.
“I didn’t realize the vastness of the collection that the Estrella Warbirds has accumulated until I was able to dive in and start looking through it,” she said. “The Warbirds collection includes some original oils, some acrylic on canvas, limited edition prints and lithographs. I feel greatly inspired by my father and my two great uncles who were all veterans of war, especially now being curator of the Estrella Warbird Museum. I feel that their spirit is in me and I have such respect for the military, those who served and those who continue to serve for our country. I just feel so grateful to help be a steward and keeper of the flame.”
Thayer has been a curator for a year and half, working toward accreditation, managing the collection and accessioning the works with her team of volunteer historians and docents at the Estrella Warbird Museum. After connecting with the Camp Roberts Historical Museum, the team was able to make this exhibit a reality. There are two displays in the show – one is a series depicting life at Camp Roberts by Millard Sheets and is featured along with work by Ed Reep, one of America’s great WWII artists who went through basic training at Camp Roberts. The second is a collection of original paintings and limited-edition prints from the Estrella Warbird Museum, produced by regionally and internationally recognized artists, that depict military and aviation themes.
Artists on display include Millard Sheets, Ed Reep, Robert St. Vincent, Nicolas Trudgian, P.N. Hutchings, Barrie A.F. Clark, Herbert C. Hahn, Dwight Shepler, Mitchell Jamieson, Pamela Silver, Robert Taylor, C.G. Evers, A.O. Lochte, William Phillips, M. Wysock, Craig Kodurs, Robert Karr, Earle B. Beaver, and Ron Weil.
“I wanted to feature a wide range of the different conflicts, looking at WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm and the majority of the works being showcased focus more on WWII than any other era. Military art is very important is a special breed of artist because many of them either served or were observers, working for Life Magazine and National Geographic and so they were able to depict what was going on in war time and on the home front. It is just so rewarding to be able to bring that to the community so they can see the talent these artists have wrought. I am looking around at some of the pieces and many of them you see are signed and they are not just signed by the artist but by the pilots, the aviators that are actually depicted in the planes. We are very, very excited about this collection.”
The artwork in this exhibit takes the viewer into the battle from pilots in cockpits firing off a volley in a tailspin over the ocean to life on the largest military training base during WWII, Camp Roberts.
The month of August offers a wealth of opportunities to see “The Military Experience in Art: Protecting Freedom,” for those who missed the opening night event Aug. 6 Just stop by Studios on the Park, located at 1130 Pine St. in Paso Robles, open Monday to Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m., Thursday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. For more information about Studios On The Park contact Sasha Irving at 238-9800 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit studiosonthepark.org.