By Miriam Grinberg, Visual Arts Intern

As a senior at Gettysburg College, I’ve walked through the battlefields of “the most famous small town in America” countless times. Each time I’ve tried to imagine how this quaint little Central Pennsylvanian locale became the site of the Civil War’s most famous battle, but I have always found it difficult to visualize the images of war strewn throughout such tranquil sites as Little Round Top, Seminary Hill, or even the College itself. The national park is littered with monuments to famous Civil War heroes and regiments, but these stationary statues give little insight into the scenes of war.

It has been the task of many artists in the years since the Civil War to take up this job of bringing the War to life for modern audiences, and the Festival honors this tradition by featuring a number of well-renowned historical artists and artisans in its 2011 History Meets the Arts lineup. Known as “the largest gathering of historical artists in the country,” Festival attendees will be able to enjoy downtown Gettysburg gallery exhibits featuring works by artists such as Dale Gallon, Amy Lindenberger, Keith Rocco, Wendy Allen, John Weiss, and many more. Special exhibits, live demonstrations, and talks with the artists are also included, giving attendees the opportunity to meet the artists and gain insight into their creative processes.

"The Devil's Den" by Keith Rocco

Many of these events will feature art which specifically focuses on the Civil War period, whether depicting full-blown battle scenes, discussions between generals, or quiet moments in the soldiers’ encampments. As this year’s Visual Arts intern for the Festival, I have had the unique opportunity to see new work from all the artists for this year’s HMTA ahead of the events themselves, and I wanted to share some of the images I have received from the participating galleries here to give everyone a glimpse of what’s in store for the weekend of Thursday, June 16 to Saturday, June 18, 2011.

The first piece that I would like to showcase is one by the Brafferton Inn‘s resident artist, Keith Rocco, entitled “The Devil’s Den” (the Inn is located on 44 York Street). His piece shows the fierce fighting taking place on July 2, 1863 near the formation of huge, ancient boulders known as “Devil’s Den” near Big and Little Round Top. When I first saw this painting, I was immediately struck not only by Rocco’s fastidious attention to detail, but also the vividness and immediacy with which he portrays the battle. The sweat, blood and distress that the soldiers are experiencing in that one moment comes across in a way that it never could from battlefield tours alone. (For more of Mr. Rocco’s works, visit his official website.)

"A Ransom for Gettysburg" by Amy Lindenberger

Leaving the battlefield, the second piece showcased in this blog is a unique colored-pencil work by local artist Amy Lindenberger, owner of the downtown Civil War Fine Art gallery on 333 Baltimore Street (link). Entitled “A Ransom for Gettysburg,” this painting depicts the arrival of Confederate general Jubal Early in Gettysburg on June 26, 1863. The “ransom” in the title comes from the demands Early and his troops would make on local towns as they passed through (including Gettysburg), “instilling uneasiness into the local population,” according to Lindenberger. The uneasiness and tension are amply evident in the piece; there are few people on the streets welcoming Early’s arrival, spectators standing gloomily in the background as the Confederates advance through an empty Baltimore Street. Though little of the vim and vigor of battle is present, the stresses on townspeople of shouldering the burden of such battles is amply demonstrated in Lindenberger’s piece.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog, featuring more exquisite Civil War-themed pieces from our featured History Meets the Arts participants!

For any questions, comments or concerns regarding this year’s History Meets the Arts participating galleries, artists, or special events, please visit the Gettysburg Festival website or call us at (717) 334-0853.