Roanoke's Norman Rockwell Exhibit Puts Idealism and Stark Realities on Display

Roanoke's Taubman Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition featuring hundreds of paintings by Norman Rockwell. The exhibition offers a great reason to visit Virginia.

Photo by Candyce H. Stapen

Roanoke’s Taubman Museum of Art hosts American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell. The more than 100 pieces on view include 323 Saturday Evening Post covers as well as many of Rockwell’s other famous and not so well-known works.

“Norman Rockwell is one of the most iconic, celebrated artists of our time,” says Della Watkins, executive director of the Taubman Museum of Art. “His unique artistic legacy both reflected and profoundly influenced American perceptions and ideals. From the rise of the automobile to World War II and from the Freedom Movement to space exploration, Rockwell chronicled the most significant moments of the 20th century.”

The small-town America of hope, innocence, and virtue is presented as well as Rockwell’s work for Look magazine which allowed the artist to chronicle a more realistic and often darker image of the nation.

Photo by Candyce H. Stapen

“I paint life as I would like it to be,” says Rockwell in a quote on a gallery wall. That theme resonates in the much-remembered works such as No Swimming (1921), boys racing away from an unseen swimming hole; Coming and Going (1947, above) a two-panel view of a family with their dog driving to and then back from an outing; and the inspirational Four Freedoms paintings for the 1943 war bonds drive.

It’s interesting to contrast these with Rockwell’s later works. The well-known The Problem We All Live With (1963, pictured above) portrays a 6-year-old black child being escorted to school by state troopers. The lesser-known and unpublished Murder in Mississippi (circa 1964, pictured left) depicts a slain white Civil Rights fighter as a bleeding African American man clings to another white Civil Rights worker.

The exhibit offers both an adult and a children’s audio tour available via smartphone. On view through June 12, the exhibit provides a great reason to visit Roanoke.

Where to Stay: The Hotel Roanoke’s oldest wing dates to 1882. Built by the railroad, the historic property, which became part of Hilton’s Curio Collection in February, is completing a room renovation. The hotel sits across the railroad tracks (use the art-filled glass walkway) from Roanoke’s downtown.

Where to Eat: The Regency Room at The Hotel Roanoke, serves an elaborate luncheon buffet that includes its own iconic dishes—peanut soup and spoonbread—as well as shrimp and grits and other items. In the historic City Market building, choose from several eateries, including Firefly Fare, a farm-to-table on-the-go kitchen serving salads, sandwiches, and ri

ce dishes with international influences.

For more information, contact

Visit Roanoke.

What are your favorite Norman Rockwell pieces? Which pieces do you consider to be the most important? Comment below or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips. And check out additional photos on our Facebook gallery below:

An exhibition of Norman Rockwell's work is on display at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke. Travel columnist Candyce H. Stapen says it's worth a trip.

Posted by PhysiciansMoneyDigest on Monday, March 21, 2016

Photos and video by Candyce H. Stapen.