Patriotism of painting: the work of a VM veteran exhibited at the Memorial of military women | Life & Arts
From his home in Charleston in 2016, Mark Tobin Moore picked up a brush and other materials as he so often did, and slowly images began to emerge on the canvas in front of him.
“I don’t intend to illustrate anything consciously,” he said.
This time, when he was done, he pulled back to look around the room: the blue field of stars, the black holes, the rugged terrain, a pair of eyes peering behind a helmet, a man and a woman – maybe parents ? – look down.
“He’s basically just one guy … And this was developed with a bunch of, sort of, transfer engraving techniques.”
He thought about the soldier’s isolation and how the helmet was there to protect himself.
He almost called it “Shell Shocked”, but thought it was too negative.
Instead, “it’s called ‘Everyday Superhero’,” he says.
A nod to his father’s military service, his time on active duty, the men and women he served with, and the dozens of veterans he worked with as a civilian artist, prompting them to recount their stories in pictures.
“This piece really speaks to me about isolation and, say, a male figure wearing a helmet to most people tells the military right away. But it can also say, here is a person who is surrounded by other people … but yet you are here, but you exist in this somewhat marked environment, which contains little things of West Virginia graphite chips, ” Moore said.
It shows the approximate area around the figure.
“He’s still got a helmet, sort of protected from that, but at the same time he’s not having a good time.”
There is austerity. And perhaps, in these daring stars, a certain pride.
He keeps most of his paintings at home. They are everywhere, covering the walls, wedged here and there, piled up in a corner.
This one, he took a picture and posted it on Facebook with a short description.
There, he caught the attention of Uniting US, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting veterans and their families with the communities in which they live “through the healing power of the arts,” said AnnMarie Halterman, Executive Director.
As it turned out, they were in the process of preparing works for an exhibit at the Women in Service Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery – which could be the first of several stops on a cross-country tour.
The play is “amazing,” said Halterman, herself a veteran. “He wrote about the fact that it’s a helmet, but it represents a superhero who keeps our country as safe as possible. It’s the superhero shield, much like Superman has his own little thing, and Captain America.
The painting that began without a plan, a sketch or a vision of where it would go, is truly “autobiographical in many ways,” Moore said.
He grew up in a military family, began drawing pictures of soldiers and battles as a young child, and had an unstable childhood shaped by the experiences of his father, who fled from home to adolescence and had no intention of joining the military.
“He ended up in the Panama Canal the day the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. So he was there and they grabbed all the guys they could and gave him a rifle and a cartridge belt. … He said: “ We dug foxholes and trenches on the beach and totally expected the Japanese to reach the canal on December 8th. And he had no training. It was just like, ‘Here you put the clip in your fire. You’re not going to be alive long enough to fire more than a few bullets. ”
When that didn’t happen, Moore said, his father was officially drafted.
“He never went to training camp. None of them did. They immediately went into service and were told, “Just shoot.” It was a big emergency, you know, everyone went there, ”he said.
Over time, in different capacities, “he was in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, the three wars,” Moore said.
His father was haunted by “crazy experiences,” he said, and maybe wasn’t meant to settle into a quiet family life.
“He was a little explosive at times. … things like picking up a Christmas tree and throwing it across the room and stuff like that, you know. After all is covered in light bulbs. … In a way, however, that was normal. All of my friends’ relatives were soldiers. And they all, everybody, just took these things in stride.
A teenager himself, Moore said, he just wanted out of the chaos. After high school in 1972, he went to join the army and ended up in the navy, mainly because he could leave the next day.
He said a recruiter told him, “You can probably get out by tomorrow if you join the navy.” Okay, so I walked down the hall and joined the Navy … I had never been on a ship. I’ve never seen a ship, you know? And I just said, ‘I’m going.’ And there I went and found myself on a boat.
Posted to the USS Sierra in Norfolk, Va., Then to Charleston, SC, he went out in 1976, then returned for a year, believing he would be stationed in California. Instead, thanks to some crazy mishap, he ended up in West Virginia – “I thought, ‘This is where I’m supposed to go'” – and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University of Charleston then retired from the military to pursue an MA from Marshall University and later an MA from West Virginia University.
Along the way he managed to merge his military experience with his passion for art teaching art to soldiers as a supervising art specialist with the US Army in Giessen, Germany – ‘J’ was the last American to be sent to Europe to work there. program ”- and later organizing an exhibit titled“ West Virginia Remembers D-Day, June 6, 1944, ”as Director of Exhibitions at the West Virginia State Museum at the Culture Center.
“It was huge,” Moore said. “There were so many veterans in 1994 who were still alive and were here. … My vision was to tell the story and get as many artifacts and personal stories in West Virginia as I do to get a record. “
Some of the stories, he said, had never been told.
Even now, in his private work, military themes occupy a prominent place.
While AnnMarie Halterman finalized plans for the exhibition titled “Summer With The Arts: Healing”. Freedom. Family ”in partnership with the Military Women’s Memorial, she knew she wanted Moore’s“ Everyday Superhero ”included. “Mark’s play is about service, that there are heroes who come forward and try to improve our country’s defense and maintain our freedom,” she said. “He’s a very talented artist.”
The exhibition is open until September. But the coin will not return to West Virginia at that time.
“It will go from the women’s memorial to Walter Reed [National Military Medical Center]. They opened a new family clinic there. And from there to Dulles International Airport in a public place, ”she said.
“And then from there it’s likely he’ll go to the Library of Congress” sometime in 2022.
Moore hasn’t been on active duty since the mid-1980s. But in a way, she says, he still serves her country.
“I can’t help but admire all the things I’ve read – during World War II, for example,” Moore said. “The sacrifices made by everyone. I mean, incredible sacrifices by so many thousands of people, and not just those who were killed, but those who carried the wounds of war with them for the rest of their lives.
The pictures, says Moore, are just coming. It is his way of honoring this sense of duty, this commitment to the country and the sacrifices that go with it.
For more information on Uniting US, visit unitingus.org. For more information on the current exhibit, “Summer With The Arts: Healing. Freedom. Family ”, visit the Uniting US website or Facebook page.