National Veterans Art Museum announces new show in honor of Memorial Day


Tenacity and Truth: People, Places and Memories Features Work from the Permanent Collection


CHICAGO, IL – On Saturday, May 25, 2013, the National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) will host the opening of Tenacity and Truth: People, Places and Memories, a brand-new exhibit showcasing works from the permanent collection. It features work that was created by artists both trained and untrained who share in the overwhelming need to express their experiences through a visual language and explores the creative process behind veteran art. Admission to the NVAM will be free all day with light refreshments offered from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Artist talks will take place throughout the afternoon.

Many of the pieces in the show have not been on exhibit for ten or more years, and include a variety of artists from all eras, including WWII, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, and Iraq. Gallery Coordinator Destinee Oitzinger notes that many artists discover their voice and subject matter through a creative practice; however veteran-made art often follows a different path. Oitzinger says of the works in this show: “The subject matter comes first and the artwork is made out of necessity. Most of the pieces in this collection were borne of events so powerful that the artists were compelled to harness and translate their experiences. Many have said they create because they are trying to help others understand their experiences; others admit that they use art to try to understand themselves and what they went through during their time in war. Still others hope to address the subject of war directly and expose truths that are often ignored or overlooked.” For most, art serves as the most authentic record of the human condition in all of its complexity, simplicity, horror and beauty.

The imagery found in Tenacity and Truth illustrates everything from the tediousness of everyday boredom paired with the anxiety of waiting for the next crisis; the anguish suffered by many in the aftermath of war; the imprint of landscapes both breathtaking and threatening; the faces of comrades and enemies seared into memory; and the abstracted visions that haunted many after they returned home. These paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures convey both the fragility and fortitude of the human spirit in its rawest form. Artwork of this nature can begin to articulate the unimaginable, because sometimes words are not enough.

Curator Mike Helbing comments on the challenge of curating a show of this size: “The difficulty was not in trying to find works to show, but in fact having to choose among them all. With more than 2,500 pieces in the permanent collection, I had the honor of choosing artwork that explores people, places and memories of service. These pieces serve as records of experience archived in a visual discourse. Subjects range from the adrenaline and anguish of combat to the thoughts and memories of the people to the shaping power of place. Boredom and quotidian experiences of war are represented in some. Mental strain and slippery realities appear in others. There is beauty and there is torment. Ultimately there is change. Then comes the reality of surviving the experience and finding out how different “now-you” is compared to “then-you” and how apart you are from those that were left behind in the world.”

Executive Director Levi Moore celebrates the new show in honor of Memorial Day, noting, “Memorial Day and Veterans Day are our two major opportunities each year to get new visitors through the door–it’s always a pleasure to welcome new visitors and neighbors through our doors to take a moment to appreciate the sacrifices of our veterans and to explore their experiences through the creative process of art.”

The show will be open to the public from Saturday, May 25, 2013 through May 2014. For more information, visit the museum’s website at

About the National Veterans Art Museum
The National Veterans Art Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of art inspired by combat and created by veterans. No other gallery in the world focuses on the subject of war from an artistic perspective, making this collection truly unique. The National Veterans Art Museum addresses both historical and contemporary issues related to military service in order to give patrons of all backgrounds insight into the effects of war and to provide veterans an artistic outlet to work through their military and combat experiences.

The National Veterans Art Museum is located at 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The National Veterans Art Museum will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is free. For group admission reservations, call the Museum at 312/326-0270 or visit

Patrons of the museum can access art from the permanent collection and biographical information on the artists through the NVAM Collection Online, a recently launched online and high-resolution archive of every piece of art in the museum’s permanent collection. The NVAM Collection Online can be found at