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Rockwell Museum to Present “Baseball, Rodeos, and Automobiles: The Art of Murray Tinkelman”

Posted 03/21/2014
Posted by David Isgur

Norman Rockwell made a name for himself with his All-American images: sports, travel, and the importance of community were but a few of the popular themes that would regularly appear in his paintings. Contemporary artists have continued Rockwell’s tradition of capturing the essence of the American experience, creating scenes based upon their own favorite pastimes. This March, Norman Rockwell Museum is proud to present the latest in its Distinguished Illustrator Series of exhibitions: ”Baseball, Rodeos, and Automobiles: The Art of Murray Tinkelman” will be on view at the Museum from March 29 through June 15.

“Baseball, Rodeos, and Automobiles” celebrates 60 years of artistic creation by Murray Tinkelman, one of the nation’s most prominent illustrators, educators, and illustration historians.  Tinkelman is currently director of the Limited Residency MFA program at the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art School, a program completely dedicated to the field of illustration.

The exhibition explores the artist’s interests, imagination and evolving technique, including elaborate pen-and-ink drawings that have become his trademark. “The graphic clarity and beauty of his art is captivating,” notes Norman Rockwell Museum Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett, who organized the exhibition. “In Tinkelman’s elegant ink drawings, myriad forms real and imagined emerge in black and white.”

Equally compelling, the subject matter of Murray Tinkelman’s art is drawn from his personal observations, interests, and experiences. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Tinkelman grew to love the city’s rich baseball history, and his art looks back on the golden age of favorite teams like the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, and the Mets. Included in the exhibition, the artist’s portraits of such baseball greats as Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Tom Seaver, have another unique feature—they are autographed by the players themselves. “Working on these drawings made me feel like a kid again,” the artist remarked recently.

A series of cropped portraits of automotive classics from the 1950s are symbols of a bygone era, and of a particularly significant time in Tinkelman’s life and career. “The 1950s was my decade,” he said. “At the time, I became the proud owner of a gleaming green 1952 Pontiac convertible. Trying to keep that classic example of Detroit iron running was as heartbreaking as rooting for the Dodgers to stay in Brooklyn.” Also of note are the artist’s portrayals of Coney Island, a beloved destination for many families; and classic monster movies.

Rodeo became the subject of an extensive series of artworks that portray the spirit, intensity, and drama of the experience. With his wife Carol, Tinkelman traveled throughout the nation, following the action to capture the excitement and disappointment inherent in the rodeo experience. Native American culture is also represented in a series of drawings that capture participants, in action and at rest, at the crossroads between two worlds. “The Saturday afternoon matinees of the 1940's were the inspiration for my love affair with cowboys and Indians,” recalls the artist. “Although there were no cows in Brooklyn and precious few horses, there were other images of the Wild West that fed my imagination.”

Murray Tinkelman is an award-winning artist who has received illustration’s highest honors from the Society of Illustrators, New York Art Directors Club, and The Society of Publications Designers. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including “Atlantic Monthly,” “Cosmopolitan,” “Ladies Home Journal,” “McCall’s,” “The New York Times,” “The Saturday Evening Post,” and “The Washington Post.” In addition, he has worked for publishers such as Ballantine, Berkley, Doubleday, Putnam, HBJ, Macmillan and Time Life among many others. Tinkelman has also been commissioned by the National Park Service to do drawings and paintings of national parks and monuments, as well as by the U.S. Air Force to be an artist-reporter on specific missions.

Tinkelman’s artwork is represented in the permanent collections of Norman Rockwell Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Delaware Art Museum, New Britain Museum of American Art, and The International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum. He has also had a one-man exhibit of his baseball art at The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York in 1994, and The United States Sports Academy in Daphne, Alabama in 1995.

A recipient of the 1999 Distinguished Educator in the Arts award from the Society of Illustrators in New York, Tinkelman also received the 1995 Sports Artist of the Year from The United States Sports Academy; the 1970 Artist of the Year award from The Graphic Arts Guild in New York City; and the 2001 Syracuse University Faculty Service Citation. In 2013, Tinkelman received an Honorary Doctorate from Kendall College of Art and Design, and was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Norman Rockwell Museum, and is also on the Low Illustration Committee at the New Britain Museum of American Art.

A renowned illustration historian and educator, Tinkelman is Professor Emeritus from Syracuse University after teaching there for 25 years in the undergraduate program and as the Director of the Limited Residency MFA in Illustration Graduate Program. He was the Chairman of the Illustration Department at Parsons School of Design and taught there for fourteen years. Tinkelman is now the Director of the Limited Residency MFA program at the Hartford Art School, a program completely dedicated to the field of illustration. The artist travels around the country giving lectures about the history of American illustration, and other related subjects on the topic of art.

Learn more at the artist’s website: