This exhibit, which coincided with the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, ran from Sunday, September 9 to Sunday, November 11, 2012. The exhibit concluded with a Veterans’ Day celebration at the museum.
Local artist Gary Kollberg specialized in watercolor landscapes before the terrorist attacks on 9/11 radically altered both his self-expressive approach and artistic technique. In his assemblages or trompe l’oeil collages, Kollberg gathers and arranges symbols of American identity. The artist lovingly depicts the American flag, bald eagle, stars and stripes, Uncle Sam, Washington D.C. landmarks, and even former presidents in his folksy and nostalgic artwork. Confining his color palette mainly to red, white, blue, and gold, he also experiments with layering to create the illusion of three-dimensionality in his work.
The artist’s assemblages often feature inspirational messages, written in the sketchy block lettering reminiscent of nineteenth-century broadsides, that encourage viewers to value our national history, revere its founding tenets, and acknowledge the service of veterans. “I hope this patriotic art will convey a sense of excitement, a feeling of pride in country, and inspire continued loyalty to our land of the free,” Kollberg stated.
An Illinois native, Kollberg was born in Rockford in 1939. The largely self-taught and gifted watercolorist studied under Ruth Van Sickle Ford at the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated with honors from the Parsons School of Design at New York University in 1962. Kollberg entered the field of graphic design and advertising in the early 1960s, becoming Art Director at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In this capacity and as Design Director with the Raymond Loewy firm in New York City, Kollberg oversaw the development of corporate branding, all the while painting and exhibiting his artwork at libraries, competitive shows, and street fairs in the mid-Atlantic states. Kollberg retired from his position as partner and co-founder of Kollberg/Johnson Associates, a consulting firm, in 2001. Kollberg has lived in Connecticut since 2004; he continues to depict landscapes, still lifes, and patriotic subjects.
Kollberg has noted that many veterans particularly appreciate his spirited and nationalistic assemblages, although his collages can and should be appreciated by every American who shares our nation’s beliefs. The artist aims to “remind the viewer that this country has a history worth commemorating, and [to] feature our heritage by presenting images and icons that focus our attention on the USA.”