24 April, 2024

Profile 173: Consolidated B-24J as flown by George McGovern, 455th BG, 741st BS

Interviews with George are in a few of my journals/stack-of-yellow-legal-pads.
And my obligatory pencil sketch to get my brain engaged...

Tragic work has begun on my next commission, a B-24J as flown by former U.S. Senator George McGovern during his service as a WWII bomber pilot.

Tragic?  Yes.  This is a redo of a piece I originally did in 2009.  For reasons due to the profound internal conflict between my chronic impatience and impossible sense of perfection, I bashed-out the art below to meet a deadline for George to sign the prints (and use at a particular fundraiser).

It's awful.  When I presented them to George, he seemed happy enough but I really wanted the artwork to be better-rendered... and trusted that the first edition would sell out, necessitating a second printing... which it did... but I never got around to redoing the artwork.

Three years later, George 'Flew West.'  

Though everyone knows that celebrity autographs are more about the actual celebrity than the thing that bears the signature, it's still 'my art;' and that McGovern was such a decent statesman makes me sick to think that I couldn't bring my best to his.

Ugh.  Don't even look at it.  But would you believe ONE print went for $3,500 at auction?
Shows the power of personality over art...

Nevertheless, eleven years later, "The Universe" has intervened and provided another moment to absolve my artistic sins, providing a moment for George's warbird to be displayed (very) publicly, albeit without his signature. 

So, have a look below.

Starting over.  So many details to do better, too.

(cough cough).  Ok, onward.

There's a legend attached to McGovern's flying a B-24 named "The Dakota Queen." The name, of course, referring to his South Dakota home state and new bride Eleanor 'waiting back home' in the community of Mitchell. It's true... but only in the regard that EVERY B-24 he and his crew flew was deemed, "The Dakota Queen."  How do I know?  He told me.

I love artistic license but there's no way I am going to make up nose art without photographic evidence — when this piece goes on display, my "Artist's Statement" will have a description to this effect.

However, George flew a number of 741st BS B-24s!   In 2009, "Yo-Yo" was chosen because I could document at least two missions where the man experienced combat in the airplane.  Additionally, Yo-Yo survived the war, ending up a sword-beaten-into-a-plowshare (so to speak) and a worthy analog for the man's career move from warrior to champion of peace. 

I'm not so sure that I'll stick with Yo-Yo...maybe, maybe not.  About the only thing 'good' about the 2009 artwork is my drawing of the Bugs Bunny-esque nose art.   

Scholarly opinions are welcome.

Anyway, I expect a significant number of people will be following this post and so will be diligent about updating artwork and sharing some of the cool artifacts I collected in the four years I interviewed the man.  One of which is his combat diary.

So, I'm sitting at my family room table, scanning this thing thinking, "OMG.  I have George McGovern's diary in my house" with the requisite visions of spilling coffee on it, losing it, tearing it... I couldn't get it scanned and returned fast enough. 

I chose the first diary entry... I won't post them all; perhaps three or four more.  Nevertheless, appropriate as the new journey to honor an American warrior and statesman begins.

I just wish he were here to see it.