formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

April 27, 2010 Aviation art

The Liberty Gazette
April 27, 2010

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

Although art has not the precise and exclusive definition as do answers to math problems, we could call it a deliberate arrangement of elements affecting our senses or emotions, creativity from the heart, or stuff that comes from artists. I’ve strolled through galleries appreciating talent, perspective, and ideas, wishing I had the patience it takes. Not surprisingly, my favorite subject of art is aviation. And what an incredible world of aviation art there is.

An Internet search using “aviation artist” will net a host of associations and world class artists. Take a look at This classy website belonging to the American Society of Aviation Artists showcases extraordinary talent and appreciation for all things aviation. Some drawings, paintings, and photos seem to absorb me into themselves, such as Cher Pruys’ watercolor, “Airbase” which takes me back to our honeymoon in Maine where I first flew a seaplane. Serene, yet exciting, viewing this painting I imagine sitting on the pier, my pants rolled up enough not to get wet as I dangle my legs in the water, feet swayed by tiny waves gently soothing docked seaplanes; docked seaplanes with great horsepower, eager to be loosed from their harnesses. Gerry Asher’s “Woman’s Work” corrals the wonderful memories I have from meeting Major Nicole Malachowski, and racing against some of the few remaining Women Air Force Service Pilots. Here is Nicole, the first woman USAF Thunderbird, who benefited from the WASP’s dedication. On the ramp at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, she calmly faces reporters and proves that, like her WASP predecessors, gender has no bearing on pilot skills.

Mike: In Kyle Weber’s “Capt. Bruce Weber – Navy Cross” the Commander of the VF-31 Meat Axers, Capt. Weber scores a direct hit on the IJN Battleship Ise during the attack on Kure Harbor in Japan. It reminds me of the time we had a couple of years ago with Distinguished Flying Cross recipient, Captain Dusty Kleiss, a hero in the Battle of Midway. When I see Kyle’s painting of an F6F Hellcat escaping unscathed, leaving behind explosive evidence of the pilot’s success, I can nearly feel the G-load making me one with the seat in the climbing turn as I hear Dusty telling of flying his dive bomber at enemy ships, and saying with a shrug, “We just did what we had to do.” For me, through this and similar paintings I can imagine in deep appreciation for people who would risk their lives for the sake of our country. Gil Cohen’s inside view from the cockpit of a B-17, “Almost Home,” is the picture that paints thousands of words with the faces of the men approaching the safe shores of Dover; relief, the day’s great burdens lifted.

While aviation history may not sound as though it could be romantic or beautiful, John Reinhold has made it so in the amber glow of “A Golden Time”. As a viewer, you are a bystander, perhaps a passenger waiting to board the Inter-Island Airways Sikorsky S-43 parked near the shoreline on one of the Hawaiian Islands, a cluster of palm trees in the distance. Or maybe you’re there to pick up one of the disembarking passengers, while crew members prepare to unload luggage onto the cart.

Many gifted aviation artists are pilots, their personal histories as incredible as their work.

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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