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Art exhibit depicts life in Coast Guard

Charles Can Horn, of Glen Head, stands beside

Charles Can Horn, of Glen Head, stands beside his painting "Hero's Week" at a reception for the artists whose paintings about the Coast Guard. (June 6, 2013) Photo Credit: Jeremy Bales

Artist Charles Van Horn of Glen Head, who has traveled around the world and served in the Vietnam War, is using his talent to depict the day-to-day military life of the Coast Guard.

Van Horn's most recent watercolor painting is of a Coast Guard officer reading to a class of grade-school children.

"I took a more off-the-beaten-track approach to Coast Guard life in this one," said Van Horn, 72, a retired design illustrator who is now a computer illustration and design adjunct lecturer at Nassau Community College.

Van Horn said his painting expresses "a goodwill feeling. See how eager the boy's hand is raised. This is a perfect example on how our military can inspire children to do service for their country and what they can do for themselves."

Van Horn's piece is part of a 30-painting collection to be exhibited this month at the Salmagundi Club in Greenwich Village and Federal Hall in lower Manhattan.

The art show, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Coast Guard Art Program. Its permanent collection includes more than 1,800 realistic paintings of the Coast Guard conducting search and rescues, drug enforcement seizures, patrolling harbors, maintaining its ships.

Van Horn, whose father was a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II, said: "I am a realist painter whose work has a narrative . . . a story to tell. Abstract art means nothing to me but pretty colors. I am a trained classical artist."

"These painters are visual historians," said Karen Loew, chairwoman of the art program. She said paintings are selected based on their accuracy to detail -- to the Coast Guard event or exercise being depicted.

"The art works are telling the public what Coast Guards do and how they serve the country,", Loew said. All the paintings are donated to the Coast Guard.

The paintings serve as an archive and are displayed in U.S. museums, libraries and Congress, Loew said. The paintings "put the coasties in the spotlight doing a humble service," she said.

Brooklyn artist Leendert van der Pool, 67, a former Dutch merchant marine who worked in Europe and Africa, said his painting in the exhibition shows Coast Guard divers inspecting the hulls and propellers of cutter ships.

Van der Pool said his painting reflected "daily life experiences and the personal connection sailors have with their ships and equipment from the hull, ropes to the anchors."

The exhibition at the Salmagundi Club ends June 14; it continues June 15 to Sept. 9 at Federal Hall in lower Manhattan.

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