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Tenacity and Truth: People, Places and Memories features artworks that have not been shown in ten years or more, some never-before-seen pieces, and a number of the collection’s best-known artworks.

CHICAGO, IL – The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) hosts the opening of Tenacity and Truth: People, Places and Memories, a brand-new exhibit showcasing works from the permanent collection in honor of Memorial Day. The exhibition 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.

Schedule of Artist Talks
1:00 – Mike Duffy
1:30 – George C. Clark
2:00 – Bill Dugan
2:30 – Edgar Gonzalez-Baeza
3:00 – Ulysses S. Marshall
3:30 – Richard Hunt
4:00 – Jim Leedy

The show will be open to the public from Saturday, May 25, 2013 through May 2014.

WHAT: Opening Reception, Artist Talks

WHO: National Veterans Art Museum

WHEN/WHERE: Opening Reception 1 PM – 5 PM CST on Saturday, May 25, 2013. Artist talks every 1/2-hour from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. All events at the National Veterans Art Museum, 4041 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641.

WHY: Every year the National Veterans Art Museum seeks to honor the men and women who gave their lives in service protecting our nation’s freedom by inspiring a dialogue over military service through art. This year’s exhibition, Tenacity and Truth, features work by nearly 50 artists who served in WWII, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and the war in Iraq. In addition, this wide-ranging exhibition features work in a variety of media and many pieces are accompanied by recorded interviews with the artists.

Many artists discover their voice and subject matter through a creative practice; however veteran-made art often follows a different path. In this case, 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 says of putting together this exhibit: “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.”

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