Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Patriots at the Market Street Art Gallery wanted to do something special to honor servicemen around Memorial Day and their efforts are being rewarded.
About 300 people attended the opening of the Gallery’s Armed Services Exhibition on May 18, and interest is growing for the show that ends June 13.
”It’s a wonderful exhibit,” said Paul Griffin, who has two of his works on the gallery wall. “The talent here is unbelievable, from the guys showing the pain of war to other things that come out of it — the beauty that has come out.”
Griffin, who served in the Army in 1966-67, now works at Market Street, setting up exhibits.
There are 45 paintings and sculpture on display. The exhibition features artwork and war memorabilia from military veterans, their families and active duty personnel.
The centerpiece in a World War I airplane, a model English Sopwith Camel hanging from the ceiling. Black sculptures of men at war provide a riveting display on the table below.
There is a gripping “POW” painting by Ralph Sirianni depicting a starving prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. The emaciated body shows his bones, but the eyes of the GI show his defiance.
“It was nice to see some of the work from World War II, that were local,” said Jeannette Pikturna, the exhibition’s director. “They are not just current, but from eras that were further back.”
John and Judy Collins of Lockport wanted to see the exhibition and visited during the week. “It represents our country,” said John, a World War II veteran who will celebrate his birthday on the traditional Memorial Day, May 30.
Judy Collins said, “You have to remember the men and women who died for us, fought for us so we don’t have to do that.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars have argued that moving Memorial Day to the last Monday in May to create three-day weekends undermined the meaning of the day. The VFW feels that the public has a nonchalant observance to Memorial Day which honors those who died in wars.
To many, Memorial Day kicks off the picnic season. Many visit the graves of loved ones and put flags at their sites.
Market Street swapped out the photography with the Lockport Library, which has exhibits on the second floor.
”This is quite interesting for us because we haven’t seen anything like this before,” said “Golf,” a recent engineering school graduate, who was leading a group of eight tourists from Thailand.
On Saturday at 1 p.m. local author Fred Tomasello Jr., author of “Walking Wounded - Memoir of a Combat Veteran,” will discuss his experiences as a combat soldier. Tomasello, who served three years as an officer is the United States Marine Corps, earned two Purple Hearts and five Air Medals. He suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and will describe his experiences in Vietnam.