Back in 1946, the Ormond Memorial Art Museum was founded with a donation of oil paintings by a World War I veteran. After over a two-month closure due to COVID-19, the museum will open its doors again on June 8, and in keeping with its roots, the exhibition on display pays tribute to veterans and their families.
The "Veterans and Military Families Create" exhibition features works from 26 artists in different mediums and subjects. Each piece is accompanied by a story of someone's connection to the military, whether it be the artist's own story, or that of a family member.
J. Walker Fischer, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said he was thrilled that the museum got this idea for an exhibition. Fischer's history with the museum dates back decades. His parents were associated with OMAM back in the 1960s and he is also a longtime museum member, as well as has served on the board.
“I thought it was just a very good idea for them to allow us to exhibit," he said.
Fischer, who lives in Ormond, has three photographs in the exhibit, and while he has a hard time choosing a favorite, for this exhibit he highlighted his photograph of Lt. Crawford and Lt. Durkin of the 53 Signal Battalion. He took it in South Vietnam in 1971; Fischer was thee head of the photography unit.
“They were just happening to be coming along when I was taking some pictures, and I said, ‘well, let me pose you and get a shot,’” Fischer recalled.
Fischer is still in contact with Crawford today, but he's lost track of Durkin over the years.
Another artist whose work is on display is Donna Lovelace-Flora. It's her first exhibit. While not a veteran herself, the Ormond Beach resident is married to an Army veteran and also grew up in a military family. Like Fischer, she is also a photographer. She's been taking photos for about four years, and up until the exhibit, had just used her talents to gift photos to her friends.
Lovelace-Flora has four photos on display, all nature and coastal in theme. These are the things that make her smile, she said, and therefore, the things she loves capturing.
“I love nature, and I love going down there and just watching the birds, the dolphins — whatever I see,” Lovelace-Flora said.
One of her works on display is "Beach Bliss in the Morning," a photograph of two empty chairs near the beach at Cardinal Drive. She happened to be walking by one day when she spotted the chairs. There was just something about the sun and the water that made her start taking photos.
“It was just all those ingredients that you can’t plan for and I just looked out and went, ‘Wow,'" she said.
Some of the artwork on display is profound from a military and veteran perspective, Lovelace-Flora added. Looking through all the artwork, she said she can tell that art is an outlet for so many involved in the military world.
“I saw a lot of creativity from all of the artists, and for some of them, some of the art tells some really good stories related to their experience as veterans or officers," she said.
The exhibition will be on display through September.
This story was updated at 5:08 p.m. on Saturday, June 6, to correct the spelling of J. Walker Fischer's name.