Boston- As part of a class project, Anna Saldo-Burke’s second grade at North Adams’ Sullivan Elementary School submitted a legislative proposal to designate Norman Rockwell as the Official Artist of the Commonwealth. The bill was filed jointly by Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D – North Adams) and Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) in January 2007; today Downing’s remarks on the Senate floor helped secure the bill’s engrossment.
Urging his colleagues in the Senate to pass this legislation, Downing said, “Whether conveying America’s core values through his Four Freedoms, or making political statements about the racial realities of the 1960’s, Norman Rockwell knew how to capture the American spirit and experience. Rockwell reached across the lines that divide and brought a nation together through his depictions of American life. It is fitting that he be named Official Artist of the Commonwealth and I am proud to advocate for this special designation.”
Following Downing’s remarks, the Senate unanimously passed the bill to be engrossed with a 36-0 roll call vote. The bill is now before the House of Representatives for enactment.
Rockwell moved to Stockbridge, MA in 1953, where he painted many of his classic Saturday Evening Post and Look Magazine covers in his Main Street studio.
A conduit for economic development, Rockwell preferred to use local residents as models and positioned his studio in downtown Stockbridge to gain a better vantage point by which to view the hustle and bustle of residents in town. His painting When I’m an Astronaut features a young boy dressed as an astronaut, watching NASA’s first landing on the moon. In 1969, Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox), posed for the artist in this iconic image.