Joseph Hirsch - “Man of the Hour” and “Making the Buoy”
Joseph Hirsch was born in 1910 in Philadelphia. He began his formal art training at 17, when he won a four-year scholarship from the city of Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art. Later he studied in New York City with George Luks, who was a member of "The Eight," a group of American painters who rejected modernism in favor of depicting scenes of ordinary people and everyday life. Throughout his life, Hirsch's subjects focused on social commentary. During the 1930s, Hirsch's art career received a boost through employment by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Philadelphia. He completed murals for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Building and the Municipal Court. During this period, he also bought an etching press and tried his hand at printmaking. Though prints could reach a wider audience, he quickly gave up etching in favor of painting. During the rest of career, however, he frequently produced lithographs of his painted works. Along with other members of the Associated American Artists, during World War II, Hirsch worked for Abbott Laboratories, producing artworks to illustrate the war effort. His first work was the most widely produced war bond poster, Till We Meet Again. Continuing his style of capturing ordinary people and moments, he worked with fellow artist Georges Schreiber at the Pensacola Naval Air Station documenting naval aviation training. From there he went to the South Pacific at the request of Adm. Ross McIntyre, Surgeon General of the Navy, to document the efforts of Navy medicine. Later he covered the Italian front and operations in North Africa for the Army. Those works currently belong to the U.S. Army Art Collection. After the war, Hirsch sold his paintings through New York galleries, worked on commissions for corporations, and executed special projects such as designs for playbills. He also taught at the Chicago Art Institute, the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York City, where he taught at the time of his death in 1981. During his lifetime, Joseph Hirsch won every major award offered for American artists. There are 32 works of Joseph Hirsch in the Navy Art Collection.
Griffith Bailey Coale - “Dive Bombing Japanese Carriers, Midway June 4, 1942”
Griffith Bailey Coale was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the eldest son of a prominent family that encouraged his interest in art. He studied at the Maryland Institute of Art where he served as president of the Art Student's League, and later went on to study mural painting in Europe. Upon his return to Baltimore, he worked as a professional painter, and when World War I broke out, he worked as marine camoufleur for the U.S. In 1941, sensing that war was imminent, Coale approached Adm. Chester W. Nimitz with the idea of having combat artists on board Navy ships to observe and document operations. Coale wanted to convince the U.S. Navy of the value art can play in war documentation. Admiral Nimitz agreed to the plan and established the Navy Combat Art program. On August 8, 1941, Coale received a commission as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve, working as a Combat Artist for the Office of Public Affairs. His first assignment put him on a patrol in the North Atlantic, where he witnessed the sinking of the USS Reuben James. He described and illustrated this experience in the book North Atlantic Patrol. His next assignment took him to the Pacific, where after observing the wreckage from the attack on Pearl Harbor and hearing eyewitness accounts, he rendered illustrations of that disaster. He also observed troops training for the invasion of Midway and traveled to that island shortly after its recapture. This led to the publication of another book, Victory at Midway. Navy Public Affairs next sent him to the Southeast Asia Command and Ceylon, and for his final assignment at the end of the war he painted two murals (now lost) for the Naval Academy, depicting the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. Coale left the Navy in 1947 with the rank of Commander and returned to his home in New York, where he died in 1950. The Navy Art Collection has 53 artworks by Commander Coale.
Lawrence Beall Smith - “Serviced and Ready”
Lawrence Beall Smith was born in Washington, D.C., in 1909. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1931. He spent his summers in Boston and Gloucester, Massachusetts, studying under Hard Zimmerman and Ernest Thurn. During his career, he established himself as both a painter and an illustrator. In the 1930s, he became known for his lithographs, which were distributed by Associated American Artists. This organization promoted the art of printmaking to the general public. He also began a connection with Abbott Laboratories, producing war bond posters for the Treasury Department. In 1944, Abbott Laboratories commissioned him as a war correspondent to cover the activities of the Medical Corps in Europe. He also witnessed the D-Day landings in Normandy. Following World War II, he continued to develop as an artist, working as a book illustrator, portrait painter, and printmaker. In the 1940s, he founded the Katonah Gallery (now the Katonah Museum) in Westchester County, New York, where he exhibited his work for many years.
John Falter - “WAVE Control Tower Operator”
John Falter was born in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, in 1910. As a high school student, Falter created a comic strip, Down Thru the Ages, which was published in the Falls City Journal. J. M. "Ding" Darling, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist of The Des Moines Register, saw some of Falter’s cartoons and said he should become an illustrator. After graduating from high school in 1928, Falter studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and won a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York City. This was during the Great Depression, and most young artists had difficulty finding work. Falter, however, began illustrating covers for the "pulp" magazines. He eventually opened a studio in New Rochelle, New York, which had long been something of a colony for illustrators, including Frederic Remington and Norman Rockwell. Falter received a major break with his first commission from Liberty Magazine to do three illustrations a week in 1933. By 1938, he had acquired several advertising clients including Gulf Oil, Four Roses Whiskey, Arrow Shirts, and Pall Mall. Falter's work appeared in major national magazines. In 1943, he enlisted in the Navy and his talents were applied to the American war effort to spur the recruiting drives. Falter designed more than 300 recruiting posters. One popular Falter poster dealt with the loose-lips-sink-ships theme. During this period, he also completed a series depicting 12 famous war heroes for Esquire magazine. Falter's first The Saturday Evening Post cover, a portrait of the magazine's founder, Benjamin Franklin, is dated September 1, 1943. That cover began a 25-year relationship with The Saturday Evening Post, during which Falter produced 129 covers for the magazine until The Post ceased publication in 1969. As television eliminated many national magazines in the 1950s and 1960s, Falter turned to portrait painting and book illustration. He illustrated more than 40 books, and one of his favorite projects was illustrating a special edition of Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln - The Prairie Years. Falter produced a body of work impressive in volume and variety of subject. Reflecting a lifelong interest in jazz, he did scenes of Harlem nightclub life in the 1930s, and later on, portraits of famous jazz musicians. An excellent portrait painter, Falter had Clark Gable, James Cagney, Olivia de Haviland, and Admiral Halsey among his sitters. During the 1970s and 1980s, Falter turned to historical and western themes. The 3M Company commissioned him to do a series of six paintings in celebration of the American Bicentennial, titled “From Sea to Shining Sea.” Falter completed more than 200 paintings in the field of western art, with emphasis on the westward migration of 1843 to 1880 from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. He was honored by his peers with election to the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1976, and membership in the National Academy of Western Art in June of 1978. John Falter died in Philadelphia in May, 1982.
Robert Benney - “The Kill”
Robert Benney was born in New York in 1904, and studied at some of the city's most prominent art schools, including the Cooper Union, the National Academy of Design, and the Art Students League. At the age of nineteen, he opened his own studio and began his career as an illustrator for magazines and newspapers in the New York area, later moving on to commissions for major industries and companies. In 1943, Abbott Laboratories hired him to work on paintings depicting the Naval Aviation Department's role in the major battles of the Pacific. In 1944, Abbott turned to him again, this time to document the Army Medical Department in the South Pacific. While there, he covered the invasions of Saipan and the Marianas. In 1954, the Society of Illustrators volunteered its services to the U.S. Air Force. With this project, Benney traveled to North Africa for illustration work. In 1968, he again offered his services as a war correspondent and served with the Marines in Vietnam. His artworks are now held by all branches of the Armed Services. Between his stints as a war correspondent, Benney worked on illustrations for major American companies and industrial associations, such as the sugar industry. He taught at the Pratt Institute from 1949 to 1952, and was Associate Professor of Fine and Commercial Art at the Dutchess County College from 1964 to 1973. There are 13 by Robert Benney in the Navy Art Collection.
Dwight Shepler - “The Spider and the Fly”
Born in Everett, Massachusetts in 1905, Dwight Shepler graduated from Williams College and taught painting in several Boston area schools. Best known for watercolors of his favorite sports, Shepler also created illustrations and advertisements for a number of major magazines and corporations. In May 1942 at the suggestion of New York artist Griffith Bailey Coale applied for a commission in the Navy's expanding officer-artist program. Commissioned Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Naval Reserve, Shepler was the first officer-artist to be sent into a combat zone. For his first tour, he reported to Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, Honolulu, who gave his blessing to the project. A few days later, Shepler was standing watch and sketching on board the USS San Juan (CL-54), a cruiser headed for the South Pacific. It was on board the San Juan that Shepler saw his first action in the Battle of Santa Cruz. After manning his battle station, he made sketches and notes, which he later turned into compelling depictions of the fight. Shepler finished as many paintings in the field as he could before clearing them with local censors and sending them on to Washington. In late November 1942, Shepler left the San Juan, going ashore on Guadalcanal. After spending six months in the South Pacific, Shepler was sent to England, where he spent the summer and fall of 1943 illustrating antisubmarine warfare activities. Next, he received orders to report to the USS Emmons (DD-457). On the night of 5 June 1944, the Emmons went into action to protect the minesweepers off the Normandy coast. During the first three days of the D-Day invasion, the ship gave fire support to the First Division on shore, often engaging in hot artillery duels with German batteries. On 11 June, Shepler made his own landing on Omaha Beach, and for the next two weeks, he recorded invasion operations. With events fresh in his mind, Shepler asked for permission to paint at his personal studio in Massachusetts, where he would have the quiet he needed to execute his ideas. It was there he completed one of his most dramatic canvases, "The Battle for Fox Green Beach," a panorama of the shore line action as he saw it from the Emmons. Four months later, Shepler was sent back to the Pacific, to cover what many hoped would be the closing campaign against Japan. In late November, he reported on board the USS Flusser (DD-368) in the Philippines and witnessed the Ormoc landings on Leyte Island. He wrote his superiors that he had witnessed the severest episodes of his 2 ½ years of duty and was amazed he had survived intact. Finally, at the end of May 1945, Shepler returned home to finish the paintings he had planned as well as to paint two large murals at the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1947, he left active duty and returned to his civilian subjects. For his service, Commander Shepler was awarded the Bronze Star. In the 1960s, the Navy reincarnated its art program with civilian artists, calling it the Navy Art Cooperation and Liaison (NACAL) Committee. Shepler signed on for a NACAL assignment in 1965 on board USS Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5) to create a series of works about the ship's activities. Until his death in 1974, Shepler maintained his contact with the Navy and his art in the collection. In addition to the dramatic battle scenes Shepler captured on paper and canvas, he was also very skilled at capturing faces. The Navy Art Collection contains 225 original works by Shepler. About 150 of these are watercolors. The rest are works in oil, charcoal, pastel or pencil.
Morgan Ian Wilbur - “No Escape”
For the past nine years, Morgan Ian Wilbur has been on the staff of the Naval Historical Center working as the Art Director for Naval Aviation News magazine. In his tenure, the magazine has won numerous awards from the Chief of Information for all-around excellence. Several of his cover art paintings are now part of the Navy Art Collection. He is also represented in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. His works have been exhibited at the National Museum of Naval Aviation and the Navy Art Gallery, Washington, DC. His art has been reproduced in books and magazines including Naval Institute's Proceedings, Naval Institute Press, Naval Aviation News, and Aviation Week and Space Technology. In 2002, he completed his first assignment as an official Navy artist to a combat zone traveling to USS John C. Stennis, an aircraft carrier then engaged in offensive operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. In April 2003, he traveled to Iraq to document Navy Medicine's support in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, which included spending eight days with Fleet Hospital 3 in southern Iraq. He returned to Iraq in 2005 to document the work of Hospital Corpsmen assigned to the U.S. Marines.
John MacDermaid - “Send the Dog Up Too”
As a young man, John MacDermaid had two major interests: aviation and art. The Air Force provided him the training for his choice career. However, a minor eye problem ended both his successful military and commercial aviation career. Faced with the need for a rapid career change, he pursued his second passion. He visited several advertising agencies to see what was needed in way of advertising art. After watching the artists at work, he went home and practiced what he had seen. Within 10 weeks, he was producing saleable art and was hired by a major advertising agency. In addition to a full time work schedule, MacDermiad continued his art studies under the influence of many famous artists, including Rockwell, Dome, Fawcett, Helck, Parker, Stahl, Von Schmidt, and Whitcomb. This art education aided his further advancement into advertising and art executive positions as the Director of Advertising of a large department store chain, three major jewelry chains and a fast food chain. He also became president of an advertising agency and a master of jewelry illustration. In each of these positions, he placed a high emphasis on creativity, demanding the best use of design, illustration and copy. After retirement, MacDermaid turned to fine art and wildlife art and earned awards in his new field. He favored watercolors, but worked in most mediums.