The spirit of Rosie, and the winds of change

The Artdog Image of Interest

World War II was a time to step up. Everyone sacrificed. Everyone did their part. No “war on a credit card” for the so-called Greatest Generation. Millions of American women–including, for the first time, middle-class, white, married women–did just that: they stepped out of their comfort zones to take industrial jobs when the vast majority of American men went overseas to fight.

In doing so, they changed their own outlook, society’s understandings, and the world of working women forever.

This attitude was personified in an extremely popular 1943 song, Rosie the Riveter, by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb.

But Rosie really got her form from Norman Rockwell  in May, 1943.

Rockwell’s Memorial Day cover for The Saturday Evening Post captured the spirit of the song, and has resonated with more than one generation of women. Here’s a video about the painting, and the larger phenomenon, from the Library of Congress that I really found interesting. Please note, however: it’s almost 15 minutes long.

The iconic 1942 “We Can Do It!” poster from Westinghouse artist J. Howard Miller was later identified with Rosie; copyright issues made that image available much more readily than Rockwell’s painting, for several decades.

At the time, people warned that letting women do a man’s job would change things–and it certainly did. While the fight continues today for pay equity, and women still face discrimination of all sorts in the workplace, very few people today doubt that women can do things that go far outside the limits placed by traditional sex-role stereotypes.

In part, we have Rosie to thank for that.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Changing World’s VisionWorks, for the main image of Rockwell’s “Rosie.” Many thanks to YouTube and the Library of Congress for the informative video. (Also to YouTube and GlamourDaze for the video and song).

Renewing the floors–the hard way

The Artdog Image of Interest

Note: due to events beyond my control, we missed the Image of Interest last weekend. Therefore, this week, we get two!

The Floor Scrapers, by Gustave Caillebotte (1875), currently in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.

Today’s Image of Interest is Gustave Caillebotte‘s The Floor Scrapers (1875), regarded by some scholars as “one of the greatest genre paintings of the 19th Century,” and also a masterful realist work.  Genre paintings, in contrast to paintings of classical or heroic subjects, sought to portray scenes from everyday life.

Rejected by the Salon for its “vulgar subject,” this painting moved Caillebotte more firmly into the Impressionist school, and placed a spotlight on the urban working class, just as Gustave Courbet‘s The Stone Breakers (1849) and a host of others had focused on rural workers a generation earlier.

Some commentators have made a point of linking the nude torsos of the workers, the sensuous lighting, and the speculation that the artist himself was homosexual. This may indeed have been a factor, but as many others have pointed out, the dynamic approach to a previously unattended subject, the use of light, and the sympathy demonstrated for the workers and their labor all deserve recognition.

IMAGE: Many thanks to “Art and Labor in the Nineteenth Century,” by Alice J. Walkiewicz, edited by Amy Raffel for this image.

Priorities

The Artdog Quote of the Week 

I wonder how many Republicans would endorse this idea today, much less act accordingly? But it’s a crucial balance to get into one’s head, because in society today we so often get these two backwards–to our own detriment.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Upworthy’s Pinterest Page. Also to the late President Abraham Lincoln.

How sick are we?

The Artdog Quote of the Week 

I find it difficult to understand how people can disagree with this, but there’s a whole bunch out there who apparently do. And who also manage to sleep just fine at night. There’s got to be a better way.

IMAGE: Many thanks to Charlie Gaines’ “Union Stuff” Board on Pinterest for this image. Also to the late Cesar Chavez.

Diego Rivera says it with flowers

The Artdog Image of Interest

The Flower Carrier, by Diego Rivera

Throughout time, artists have often turned to workers in various industries for inspiration. I’ve been spotlighting a few examples this month, in honor of Labor DayHokusai’s rice farmers and the bakers and brewers immortalized by the ancient Egyptian modeler for the Tomb of Meketre all worked with grain, to produce an indispensable staple for their societies.

But not every trade focuses on society’s most basic needs. Today’s artist, Diego Rivera, was a prominent painter and muralist in the first half of the 20th Century. He was trained in Mexico and Europeworked in Paris, was a great friend of Amodeo Modigliani and other members of the artists’ group at Montparnasse, and explored cubism at roughly the same time as PicassoBraque, and Gris. His mature style also drew upon the imagery of the Mayan stelae of his native Mexico.

Rivera also was a dedicated atheist, socialist and supporter of communism. Many of his murals and paintings celebrate the common working person. The Flower Carrier, painted in oil and tempera on Masonite in 1935 (original title: Cargador de Flores) is one of several works Rivera created, focused on workers in the Mexican cut flower trade. It was a recurrent theme, often featuring calla lilies and female workers. This painting is currently in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Other Rivera paintings that feature flowers and the workers who collected, carried, and sold them include Flower Day (1925), The Flower Seller (1941), The Flower Vendor (1949), and another Flower Carrier (1953).

Khan Academy has collected many of these flower paintings in a short video. I discovered it after I’d written most of this article, but the writer of the Khan Academy piece and I are definitely on the same page about the message of these paintings. Rivera has used the beauty of the flowers to call attention to the arduous lives of the workers.

IMAGE: Many thanks to the Diego Rivera website, for this image.

Consider this equation

The Artdog Quote of the Week

If all employers followed this advice, they’d be paying their people a living wage, and supporting their roles as family members in society through paid sick leave, parental leave, and/or personal leave.

And we’d all be better off.

IMAGE: Many thanks to WSI 15013’s “Right On” Pinterest Page and LinkedIn. Also to the late Stephen R. Covey.

Forgetting is not an option

Remembering September 11, 2001

We saw the worst of humanity that day. But we also saw some of the best. I hope you’ll enjoy this tribute, with actual footage from that day at Ground Zero.

You also might appreciate this short National Geographic production about United Flight 93

Unfortunately, many 9/11 heroes are still “layin’ it all on the line.” A variety of respiratory illnesses and cancers have been linked to the pollution encountered by both survivors and first responders. But the trauma experienced that day has left many with PTSD and other mental health effects, as well. Last year, on the 15th anniversary, CBS News ran this item:

Clearly, not all sacrifices are made in a blaze of glory that ends quickly. The lingering effects of our collective trauma from that day still haven’t played out.

VIDEO: Many thanks to Allec Joshua Ibay on YouTube, for the “Everyday Heroes” musical tribute to the first responders at Ground Zero. The song that gives the video so much of its emotional power, please note, is by Dave Carroll, who is not credited on Ibay’s video (however, Ibay’s images are more focused on the events of 9/11/01 than the video Carroll posted). You can buy Carroll’s single or album on Amazon. Thanks also to The CBS Evening News and YouTube, for the video about first responders’ mental health. Additional thanks to CBS News for the image of the firefighter at Ground Zero.