On Nov. 10, the Italian-American Veterans Museum hosted an opening night event for a new temporary exhibit titled “Sacrifice, Courage and Art Unite Generations of Veterans.” Curated by Joe Fornelli, an acclaimed artist and Vietnam veteran, the show is a collaboration of works on loan from the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago.
Featuring the works of 10 artists who are veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the exhibit is free and open to the public through the holidays.
Artist Ronald Mann served in Vietnam as a door gunner from 1966 to 1967. His four original works on display are a collection of black-and-white acrylic paintings portraying an odyssey into the dark depths of the mind of the Vietnam vet who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Immediately after graduating high school, David Delgado joined the Marine Corps reserves. He completed basic training on Sept. 21, just 10 days after the 9-11 tragedy. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, four of his photos are displayed in “Sacrifice, Courage and Art.” Taken in Kuwait and southern Iraq with a disposable camera, he later manipulated his images to depict the conflict as he perceived it. “It’s a deranged journey through a desert wasteland,” Delgado explained.
Andres Zayas, the son of a Vietnam veteran, displays his photos, “The Edge” and “Peti Officer First Class Thomas,” which were taken while he served in the Navy in Afghanistan. He’s a 15-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.
Ralph “Tripper” Sirianni was a Marine rifleman in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. His charcoal-on-paper drawing titled “Suicide” does not require explanation.
Steven Ham served as an intelligence analyst in the Army from 1968 to 1969. His works, “Thunder Road” and “#6,” are included in this exhibition. “My Dead Vet cards are different from my paintings; they are greeting cards or letters from the dead,” Ham explained. “I’m a medium for the dead and I’m processing their pain. This kind of art puts us in touch with something deep within, something genuinely human; there the community is created, isolation is broken.”
Jerry Kylisz was an Army platoon leader in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969. His black-and-white photos are displayed alongside an album of his poetry.
Robert Leland contributes “Portrait of an American Soldier,” a drawing in conte crayon. Leland created this work in vivid color from a black and white photo.
Chuck Salerno, a Vietnam veteran serving in the Marines from 1966 to 1967, completed “Honoring and Remembering” in 1997. A tribute to his fallen comrades, it has been memorialized in a U.S. postage stamp.