THE WARWICK ADVERTISER
WARWICK -- New Milford artist Robert Fletcher will be taking his 21 watercolors entitled, “Remembrance” to Washington, D.C.
A reception is scheduled on Thursday, November 4th from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the International Caucus Room of the Cannon Building of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
During the reception the Cannon Building Rotunda will be open for guests to visit the exhibit. Containing 21 watercolor paintings depicting funeral scenes from America’s wars, beginning with the Revolutionary War which has for the setting Colonel McCamly buried in New Milford 1817. The most recent burial is from the Gulf War in Alabama 1991 (a black church funeral). They also depict women in the military.
Warwick and Orange County will be well represented during the reception. At 7:00 p.m. we intend to have a welcome by Warwick Town Supervisor, Tony Houston.
Presentation of the colors will be the First Division Old Guard, Washington, D.C. Pastor Duncan Trueman, Pastor of the New Milford Church will present the invocation. Pledge of Allegiance will be by Everist LeMay of the Nicholas P. Lesando, Jr. American Legion Post 214 in Warwick. National Anthem, guests with three local singers. If he is in town, Congressman Ben Gilman will speak. Howard Mills may also give an address. “God Bless America” will be sung. Taps, members of the Old Guard. Warwick composer and pianst Richard Kimball volunteered to play during the three-hour period. Aaron Kopeland, Stephen Foster songs along with some jazz.
THE WARWICK ADVERTISER Friday, October 23, 1998
‘Remembrance’ exhibit reflects military funeral respect
By Robert Demetry
WARWICK – They were pictures from the past containing messages in a tacit gesture, juxtaposition of elements and the play of light and shadow both on the mind and on the paper canvas.
Like frozen dreams whose manifest content may be understood at a glance but whose latent content is enmeshed in unconscious associations – they are the portrayals of love and respect.
These were watercolor paintings – 13 in all – by Warwick artist/illustrator Robert Fletcher depicting military funerals and related scenes from the Civil War through World War II at a composite exhibit at the Warwick Town Hall last week.
It was a community preview of Fletcher’s exhibit which will travel to our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. next November as part of the country’s celebration of Veterans Day. It will hang inside the Cannon House Office Building’s Rotunda.
Congressman Benjamin Gilman was instrumental in helping Fletcher cut through bureaucratic red tape to get permission for the exhibit to be approved for governmental display.
Fletcher sent slides and photographs to Gilman’s office where they were then forwarded to the U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich where it was viewed and approved two weeks ago.
A resident of Iron Mountain Road in nearby New Milford for 30 years, Fletcher’s first painting in the series depicts the local funeral of Revolutionary War Colonel David McCamly from that small hamlet.
It shows local farmers and businessmen bearing the casket while the undertaker checks the burial site on a distant hill (now owned by Peter Martin). Four small flags on the hearse contain 20 stars representing the 20 states in the Union at that time.
The funeral is before the custom of covering the casket with a flag which began during the Civil War.
“Colonel McCamly was well known in the New Milford area and died in 1817,” said Fletcher. “I walked the site where the family burial plot which is still surrounded by a rusting fence and wrought iron gate.”
“I didn’t know all the details of the funeral, but I did research, talked with area historians and got a “feel” for that mournful time,” added Fletcher.
The second watercolor in the series, “Quiet Waiting” pictures a church service coming to a close as a Civil War Veteran, wrapped in the colors, is carried into the hushed silence of freshly fallen snow outside the New Milford Methodist Church.
Horses draped with woolen blankets wait for the loading of the casket and the click of the driver. Carriages are shown lining Jockey Hollow Road, filled with caring family and friends awaiting their place in the funeral procession.
Fletcher himself, was a veteran of the Korean War serving both state-side and in Germany during the 1950’s and says that his patriotism – especially for the American flag – is extremely important to him in that reverence is the central symbolic theme and focus of all his works in this patriotic exhibit,
“Our flag, although not a sacred symbol, is an esteemed symbol. It represents our country,” said Fletcher, “I wanted to do something in a small way to really bring forth what we have here and what others have gone through, and died for, in preserving our freedoms which many people take for granted.
“The memories of those parents and brothers and sisters and wives losing their loved ones in war never leaves them. They live with it for the rest of their lives.
“I didn’t want to make people feel badly in viewing my composite collection of military funerals, but wanted to have people remember their own special memories of their own special loved ones,” added Fletcher.
Some viewed the exhibit with clouded and teary eyes, recalling a hero, a son, a brother or a friend or husband. Most relived, again, the personal experience of sorrow that has vanished from memory through the years of time. They remember and never forgot.
The soldiers’ faces in the paintings told stories; they spoke parables; they recounted epics; but moreso they told things as they really were. . .about heroes and husbands, soldiers and sorrows.
They are cultural artifacts on canvas made to achieve an end in itself like a poem enclosed in a frame by the projections and the perceptions of the mind.
They are truthful images hidden within themselves – they are remembrances of the heart engendered by love.