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National Grange: Norman Rockwell’s Inspiration?

By National Grange Website (4/20/12)

  APRIL 25, 2012 --

“Commonplaces never become tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative.”
- Norman Rockwell

While the National Grange archives are a wonderful source of information, the knowledge of Grange members outshines this resource. As Phyllis Mason, Vermont State Grange Master shared, Norman Rockwell was a Grange member and was long a hard-worker, “I danced there when I was a teenager, and he’d come and work just like anyone else,” she says. Rockwell’s affiliation with the Grange did not end with assisting the Grange at events. Rockwell actually did a variety of work for the Grange as a member of the Vermont Grange, including painting a portrait of then National Grange member, Herschel Newsom.

Although Rockwell is best known for his portrayal of rural or “middle America,” Rockwell was born in 1894 in New York City. His talent was recognized and fostered at a young age: at 14 he  enrolled in The New York School of Art. He found success early, as he was hired by the Boy Scouts of America as the art director forBoys’ Life while he was just in his teens. When he was 22, Rockwell painted the first of what would be 321 covers for The Saturday Evening Post.

It was when Rockwell married and moved to Arlington, Vermont in 1939 when Rockwell’s work took it’s perhaps most well known view of small town life in America. However, Rockwell was also concerned about the state of America, and after ending his 47-year association with The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell began working for Look, and focused a great deal of his work on pressing issues of the 1960s, including space exploration, poverty and the push for civil rights.

For his work, in 1977 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. A year later, he passed away. However, he established a trust in what is now known as the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge. However, one does not need to travel that far to see his works. His art is frequently displayed across America, from small homes to grand museums.

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