Underway with the Coast Guard: Observations in Art

MSST: Sighting down threats by Coast Guard artist Ken Smith

MSST: Sighting down threats by Coast Guard artist Ken Smith, recipient of the 2010 George Gray Award.

Post written by Angela Hirsch, chief, Coast Guard Community Relations

The newest additions to the Coast Guard’s art collection will be exhibited this summer at Federal Hall National Memorial in New York City, home to some of the service’s earliest history.

The 41 paintings depict modern-day missions, including search and rescue, scientific study of the Arctic, piracy and national security.

Artist Ken Smith at work. (Photo by L.S. King)

Artist Ken Smith at work. (Photo by L.S. King)

Among the 28 artists whose work is included in the exhibit is Ken Smith of Virginia. His painting “MSST: Sighting Down Threats,” depicts members of a Coast Guard maritime safety and security team securing a port area. It was awarded the George Gray Award for artistic excellence last week at the Salmagundi Art Club, which co-sponsors the Coast Guard’s art program. Smith also won last year’s Gray Award for his painting “Air Station Savannah“.

“My paintings generally tend toward military subject matter, so I was naturally attracted to the MSSTs and their anti-terrorism mission,” said Smith. “In discussing their work… [the team’s] no-nonsense attitude really appealed to my sense of drama and of course to the idea of Semper Paratus. It also had a bit of a Star Trek flavor that I find pretty irresistible.”

Alexander Hamilton might well mistake the body armor-clad, fast roping Coasties in Smith’s painting for alien invaders, but they perform the same maritime security mission Hamilton sought to enforce when he established the Revenue Cutter Service. While serving as Secretary of the Treasury in the earliest days of the United States his offices were at the site of Federal Hall; he is buried a block away, at Trinity Church.

The Coast Guard Art Program exhibit, titled “Underway with the Coast Guard: Observations in Art,” runs through August 12, 2010. The memorial is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The memorial is closed on July 5 and on weekends.