The St. Augustine Art Association is proud to provide a voice and stage for Veterans with a riveting, sometimes raw, emotionally-charged exhibition, entitled Then & Now: 50 Years of Veterans Experiences, on display July 2 through August 22, 2021. This exhibit demonstrates the healing power of art by showcasing eight individuals who use painting, sculpture, photography, poetry and other creative outlets. These Veterans share their experiences from subtle murmurs of anguish to cries for support and understanding. Then and Now merges St. Augustine’s art and history with today’s global military awareness and experiences, providing both an educational narrative and outreach.
During the exhibit, the Art Association will open its gallery for Veterans and military groups to host meetings or workshops, field trips, lectures and other special events. “It is our hope that through this exhibit we raise awareness and sensitivity to our veterans’ service and the importance of their mental health, while demonstrating how the power of creativity can be used as a tool for some to help heal a broken spirit,” said Jerome Domask, artist, guest curator and member of the St. Augustine Art Association.
A focal point of the exhibit will be a replicated five-by-eight-foot holding cell. This is a special “shout out” to American Hero, Army Major (RET) Theodore Gostas, a former POW held in captivity for over five years, four-and-a-half spent in solitary confinement. The cell will be surrounded by a visual narrative of two Vietnam veterans, Gostas and exhibit curator Jerome Domask, supporting each other for over 50 years as Foxhole Buddies after Gostas’ return to active duty.
“When Jerry [Domask] came to me last year with the idea for this exhibit, I knew that the Art Association had to host it,” said Jennifer Flynt, Administrator at the St. Augustine Art Association. “The experiences these Veterans have gone through are very real, and I felt a strong conviction to help them tell their stories and tell them well.”
With eight Veteran artists–five men and three women–the exhibit exudes a powerful message of support, strength and self-help. Together, these artists represent more than 50 years of military history from the Cold War to recent Middle East hostilities. They have served around the world–Europe, Vietnam, Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Bosnia to name a few, and they’re backgrounds are diverse in both civilian life and military service.
“Strong Women Warriors,” a series by Barbara Barnett, will speak to screams of anguish, rejuvenation and molding of mind and soul, and USNR- (RET) Chaplain Ron Moses Camarda will bring his personal observations of life and death in a combat zone. The exhibit is further enriched by individual creations from “then and now” experiences filled with emotion, challenging perspectives and an undeniable support for each other’s well-being as the artists explore a path forward with enlightenment and hope.
There are numerous ways for our St. Augustine community to get involved in Veteran support, and this exhibit is just one of those. If this is something you’d be interested in supporting, let us know! Details on the exhibit, artists, and ways you can get involved, can be found a staaa.org/then-and-now-2021 or by contacting the St. Augustine Art Association at (904) 824-2310 or [email protected].