'The Mascot' by Grady Myers
As I prepare for this Saturday's reading at the National Veterans Art Museum, I have been having a flashback to the 1980s. I am in the rotunda of the nation's Capitol where I'm viewing, with a combination of sadness and fascination, a traveling exhibit organized by the Vietnam Veterans Art Group. Sadness because so many of the works depict violence and loss. Fascination because the exhibit, "Reflexes and Reflections," has many excellent and compelling images -- including three drawings and a collage created by Grady Myers.
Grady and I were married then. I don't recall how he connected with the Chicago-based art group; we lived in Boise and Spokane during the '80s. He was excited to create work for the show. It was the first time he had tackled Vietnam War art since illustrating "Boocoo Dinky Dow," the memoir that we wrote together in the late 1970s. While the book manuscript was packed away and not published until after Grady died in 2011, the Vietnam Veterans Art Group kept evolving.
The traveling art exhibit found a permanent home in Chicago's Loop and became the Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in 1996. Its mission expanded to included artists from other wars and in 2010 it was renamed the National Veterans Art Museum. Last fall, the museum moved to a new Chicago location. You can read more about it here. Take time to nose around nvam.org. The museum's entire collection of art is available online. Of course, there's nothing like seeing art in person. Tours are free.
Grady's drawing titled "The Mascot," shown here, is a favorite with young museum visitors. At the April 20 reading of "Boocoo Dinky Dow," the museum collection will expand with the contribution of his original art from the book.
Julie Titone is co-author of the Grady Myers memoir "Boocoo Dinky Dow: My short, crazy Vietnam War." Grady was an M-60 machine gunner in The U.S. Army's Company C’s 2nd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division in late 1968 and early 1969. His Charlie Company comrades knew him as Hoss. Thoughts, comments? Send Julie an email.