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Norman in Naples

Published: January 1, 2009

The Naples Museum of Art honored the life and work of one of the country’s most beloved artists.

The Norman Rockwell: American Imagist exhibition, which ended April 11, 2009, featured nearly 50 oil paintings and all of the artist’s iconic Saturday Evening Post covers, 323 in all, created between 1916 and 1963.

Myra Janco Daniels—founder, chairman and CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts (where the museum is housed)—believes the works elicited positive reactions from viewers.

“Nobody looks at a Rockwell without smiling,” she says. “Rockwell turns any wall alive. [His work] brings you back into memories that you might have forgotten.”

Daniels, who once had a complete collection of Saturday Evening Post covers, credits Rockwell’s enduring popularity to his eye for the everyday.

“Rockwell was able to capture people as they were and as they are,” Daniels says. “No one can beat Rockwell for Americana.”

This kind of cultural programming is exactly what Naples was lacking when Daniels relocated from Chicago in the 1980s.

“I knew that there was something missing in this Naples area,” she says. “Chicago was full of the arts. Why not start a center in Naples?”

Nine years later, the cultural complex opened its doors. The Phil (as it’s called by locals) has a resident orchestra, a main hall, a black box theater, an arts school, and the museum. The complex stages about 400 cultural events each year.

“It is not uncommon one night to see Liza [Minnelli], the next night to see Julio [Iglesias], or to see a comic or a dance company or an opera,” Daniels says.

For more information, visit www.thephil.org.

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