Behind the Lines: Artist-Soldiers in the Johnson Collection

TJC Gallery, Spartanburg, South Carolina
July 10, 2014 – September 10, 2014

Behind the Lines: Artist-Soldiers in the Johnson Collection showcases the eclectic—and largely non-military—work of artists who served in the American armed forces from the Civil War through twentieth-century conflicts. Their biographies are as varied as their paintings. The Dutch immigrant William Frerichs settled in North Carolina following his arrival in America; late in the Civil War, he was conscripted by Confederate forces as a civil engineer in the Sauratown Mountains and reportedly captured by Union forces on three different occasions. Scenes of national significance figure heavily in the work of John Ross Key, the grandson of Francis Scott Key (author of the lyrics of "The Star Spangled Banner") who left his home in Washington, DC, to fight for the South. Several artists featured in the exhibition enlisted—whether voluntarily or through the draft—during the World Wars: Charles Burchfield and Edmund Lewandowski both worked as camouflage artists, while Maltby Sykes served as a military artist recording scenes in the Pacific theater. No matter their branch or length of service, these men’s military experiences shaped their lives and, in ways both overt and subtle, their artistic expressions.