"In Search of Norman Rockwell's America," which pairs Norman Rockwell paintings, prints and lithographs with work by photojournalist Kevin Rivoli, opens Friday at the Arts Center. Rivoli and International Art and Artists of Washington, D.C., organized the show, which has a companion book.
Not everyone loves Norman Rockwell, but his covers for the Saturday Evening Post are unparalleled as American iconography, images of days gone by in a medium gone by as well. Photographer Rivoli's aim is to show that Rockwell's America — boys of summer, laughing little girls, lovers — still exist. It's important that his photographs are in black and white, which lends a kind of timelessness to the scenes. Rivoli talks about Rockwell and his work in the video above.
One of the best pairings in the exhibit (which turns out to be the cover of his book) is Rockwell's "After the Prom," a very funny image depicting a boy and a girl at a diner counter, the girl lifting her corsage to the waiter to smell, and "Before the Prom," Rivoli's photo taken at a diner, of girls way too dressed up to be sharing space with ketchup and mustard sit in booths against a wall, one arranging her date's boutonniere.
Joe Lampo, erstwhile acting director who has reassumed his role as assistant, to new director Todd Herman, pointed out a particular Rockwell: An oil study of native son and Baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, "Gee Thanks."