At the beginning of a new decade residents at Covenant Living are glancing backwards as well as looking forward. The focus of their peek at the past is an exhibit of Norman Rockwell memorabilia displayed by the campus chaplain Greg Asimakoupoulos. Chaplain Greg began collecting Norman Rockwell magazine covers three decades ago after visiting the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Although Rockwell was best known for his illustrations on the cover Saturday Evening Post, his work was also featured on McCalls, Look and Life. The number of periodicals that used Rockwell’s art inspired Asimakoupoulos to celebrate Rockwell’s unique contribution to American culture with a caption contained in the display case.
“Norman Rockwell established the norm in how we look at life,” Asimakoupoulos said of the work. “He reminded us just how simple what we long for really was. He drew well. But, his brush, like a wand, worked magic with paint. Though not a saint, he was an American original.”
The chaplain’s collection includes covers that feature presidential candidates Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and Adlai Stevenson. The exhibit also includes covers of comedy legends Bob Hope and Jack Benny.
Contrary to what many might think, not all of Rockwell’s illustrations were on magazine covers. A unique section of the exhibit is devoted to line drawing advertisements by Rockwell that were inside the magazines.
“The first Rockwell ad I purchased was for Mass Mutual Insurance Company,” Asimakoupoulos said. “The teenage boy, sitting at his manual typewriter in his bedroom contemplating current events while his parents looked on, reminded me of me.”
Rockwell’s ability to picture the way life was in a simpler time is what contributes to Asimakoupoulos’ fascination with the illustrator who died in 1978. His appreciation for Rockwell art has been passed on to one of his three grown daughters. Daughter Allison, who lives in Snoqualmie, has her own collection. The oldest item in the chaplain’s collection is a cover for The Country Gentleman magazine. It bears the date of January 1921. There are also copies of The Literary Digest and Saturday Evening Post from 1923.
“Although I’ve been aware of Mr. Rockwell’s unique way of portraying American life since I was a kid, I didn’t realize how much fun it would be to search for original magazines in antique stores and thrift shops,” Asimakoupoulos said.