In celebration of International Artist Day—observed Oct. 25 of each year—the Coast Guard Art Program (CGAP) is recognizing the many artists who help to tell the Coast Guard story through fine art.
COGAP, which also celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, boasts more than 2,000 works that visually capture many missions performed daily by Coast Guard service members, including homeland security, search and rescue, marine environmental protection, and drug interdiction missions.
“The paintings and drawings in the Coast Guard art collection bring to life the work performed by our Coast Guard and they vividly demonstrate the [service’s] contributions to our country,” said Mary Ann Bader, COGAP’s coordinator. “International Artist Day provides another opportunity for us to thank our member artists for all they do in telling our story.”
The Program recently accepted the 2021 collection, which is comprised of 32 works of art created by 26 artists. Among many missions, this collection shows the service’s response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Delta in Texas and flooding in North Carolina along with its response and efforts to mitigate the COVID crisis. The collection also includes several works that demonstrate the grueling training Coast Guard members often undergo.
“We are particularly thankful that COGAP artists chose to record our response to these devastating events as well as depict our many other missions and the training it takes to make sure Coast Guard members are Semper Paratus (Always Ready),” Bader said.
COGAP is an important part of Coast Guard Community Relations. The program uses fine art as an outreach tool for educating diverse audiences about the Coast Guard through displays at museums, libraries, and patriotic events. Works from COGAP are also displayed in offices across the country by members of Congress, and senior leaders of the Coast Guard and other military services and the executive branch.
The Coast Guard’s art program is among the youngest of the art programs run by a military service. It traces its beginning back to 1980 when artist George Gray was chair of the Navy Art Cooperation and Liaison Committee at the Salmagundi Club in New York City. When the Navy phased out this program, the Coast Guard asked Gray to create a similar program for the service. At the same time, the Salmagundi Club became the program’s co-sponsor. Coast Guard artists, many of whom are professional artists, freely give their work to the Coast Guard and, by extension, to the nation.
“COGAP member artists volunteer their time and talent,” Bader said. “Thanks to them, today our program is one of the best and most remarkable collections of fine art of any military service.”
To view more works of art or for more information on the program, visit uscg.mil/community/art-program. Whether someone is already a fan of fine art or not, perhaps there is no better time to check out the Coast Guard’s vast collection than on International Artist Day.
“Fine art moves viewers by speaking directly to the heart and Coast Guard artists do just that in the stunning works they give this program,” Bader said.