Life as We Would Like It to Be- Sunday, January 31, 2016
American artist Norman Rockwell was known as the artist of the common man and of common places. His models were his neighbors and family members, his subjects the plain and simple moments of life, and he depicted them with fondness. Among his hundreds of paintings, he captured the essence of human connection with all of its emotion and excitement—the joy of a long-awaited homecoming, the thrill of a youthful adventure, the tenderness and insecurity of growing older, and the warmth of a sacred gathering with loved ones to give thanks.
“The commonplaces of America are to me the richest subjects in art,” he wrote. “Boys batting flies on vacant lots; little girls playing jacks on the front steps; old men plodding home at twilight, umbrellas in hand—all these things arouse feeling in me. … Commonplaces never become tiresome. It is we who become tired when we cease to be curious and appreciative.”1 Though critics were sometimes not kind, most people were instinctively drawn to Rockwell’s art. Something about it reminded them of the goodness in life.
This was Rockwell’s gift. Every artist has his or her own peculiar way of looking at life, and this determines his treatment of a subject or situation. Rockwell said of his own unique perspective: “The view of life I communicated in my pictures excludes the sordid and ugly. I paint life as I would like it to be.”2
That doesn’t mean, of course, that he was naive about the way life really is. He had his share of tragedies, just as we all do. And the era he painted in was not idealized, either—it was a time of war, prejudice, and social upheaval. In other words, it was a time when people needed to be reminded of the way life could be. And they needed to see that maybe that ideal is not as unrealistic as they thought.
Perhaps that’s why Rockwell’s art still resonates—we still need his message of optimism within the commonplace. We need more of the love, laughter, friendship, and goodness he depicted. The more we look for life as we would like it to be, as Norman Rockwell did, the more it will become life as it really is.
-Lloyd D. Newell
1. In Glenn McNatt, “Re-examining Rockwell,” Baltimore Sun, June 19, 2000, http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2000-06-19/features/0006190015_1_norman-rockwell-rockwell-illustrated-paintings.
2. Norman Rockwell: My Adventures as an Illustrator (1960), 43.
Jan. 31, 2016
Broadcast Number 4,507
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
I Think the World Is Glorious
Alexander Schreiner; arr. Mack Wilberg
Called to Serve
Adam Geibel; arr. Mack Wilberg
All Things Bright and Beautiful
English melody; arr. Mack Wilberg
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
American folk hymn; arr. Dale Wood
He Shall Feed His Flock
John Ness Beck
Let All the Angels of God Worship Him, from Messiah
George Frideric Handel
Who Will Buy? from Oliver!
Lionel Bart; arr. Michael Davis
Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah
John Hughes; arr. Mack Wilberg