THE WARWICK ADVERTISER By Roger Gavan
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Benjamin Gilman took a few moments from his busy schedule to stop by the desk of Melissa Coffey, his Cnsituent Sevices Coodinator. It was October 1 and Gilman, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, was on his way to an important meeting. The media was reporting the possibility of NATO air srikes against Serbian forces in the aftermath of massacres in Kosovo. A staff member would brief the chairman on the latest developments in the international crisis as they walked to the elevator.
Coffey had some good news, however, for Gilman, who represents the 20th District, part of which includes Warwick.
On the previous day, the two had worked on a letter which Rep.Gilman sent to Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Following House protocol, Gilman wrote to the speaker on behalf of Warwick artist Robert Fletcher, known for his painting of the U.S. Military funerals and related scenes.
The Congressman, known for helping constituents cut through red tape, requested permission to exhibit Fletcher’s paintings in the Rotunda of the Cannon House Office Building. Their first choice was May, 1999, to include Memorial Day. Coffey received a messages from the Speaker’s office the next morning. Their request had been approved.
The series of 15 watercolor paintings, entitled “Remembrance”, recalls scenes from the Civil War, including the confederacy, World War I and World War II.
“I’ve also included a painting that’s a composite of all wars,” said Fletcher.
The artist, a veteran of the Korean war, was pleased with the news and the effortsof Rep. Gilman, a veteran of World War II. Fletcher will send slides and photographs of his paintings to Gilman’s office where they will then be forwarded to the Speaker’s office for final approval.
Meanwhile, Warwick Town Supervisor Tony Houston has arranged for a preview of the National Exhibit at the Town Hall on Thursday and Friday, October 15-16, from 4 to 9 p.m. The exhibit will be sponsored by the Town of Warwick and co-sponsored by. . .
In preparation for this exhibit, Houston’s wife, Sharon, met with Fletcher to design a permanent display for artwork in the Town Hall. Her son Matt, a professional carpenter, assisted by his brother Aaron, will build the unit. Sharon Houston also shopped for the supplies and was grateful to Kuiken Brothers Co. in Warwick for donating some lumber and providing other items at cost. "The price of the labor is zero,” said Houston who is proud of his family’s contribution.
Following this month’s “Remembrance” exhibit, the Supervisor plans to use the Town Hall vestibule to display works by other Warwick artists on a rotating basis.
“We can also show special school projects and children’s art,” said Houston.