The National Veterans Art Museum (NVAM) presents its newest solo exhibition featuring the work of Chicago veteran artist, George Klauba. The exhibition comprises two series of paintings: Cuba: Rebels, Orishas & 26 Julio and Nerves on Fire: Reflections on WWII.
Klauba’s work recalls the impact of witnessing the homecoming of WWII veterans and making the daily sacrifices to support the war effort on his childhood. He remembers the reverence he felt for the objects brought back from war, and the curiosity invoked by the exotic names of locations in the Pacific. These objects and stories from his childhood eventually merged with an adult understanding of the sorrow and loss experienced by both sides. Klauba masterfully illustrates these vignettes and empathetically weaves them throughout his paintings which he describes as memorials. Nerves on Fire is dedicated to the men and women who were deeply affected by the Second World War.
Cuba: Rebels, Orishas & 26 Julio is inspired by the indelible experiences Klauba had as a young sailor stationed in Cuba during the revolution. Klauba enlisted in the U.S. Navy and spent a month in Guantanamo Bay during one of his deployments. His personal accounts and first-hand understanding of the political atmosphere of the time lays the contextual foundation for the unique mix of factual and fantastical imagery found in this series.
Side by side these two series of paintings offer a glimpse into the way in which military service has both defined the artist’s life and driven decades of contemplation about the impact that war has had on his and others’ lives.