|Friday, Jul 22, 2011|
In its first years of independence the United States struggled financially and some people resorted to smuggling. Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of Treasury, envisioned a system that would implement tariffs and maritime law as a means of preventing smuggling. On August 4, 1790, Hamilton established the United States Revenue Cutter Service, which would later become the U.S. Coast Guard.
Almost two centuries after the service was established, muralist and illustrator George Gray co-founded the Coast Guard Art Program (COGAP) in 1981, modeled after the Navy Art Cooperation. Today, COGAP holds an art collection of around 1,800 pieces, created by professional artists from across the United States who volunteer their artistic efforts to the program out of respect and admiration for the Coast Guard. Gray founded COGAP to convey not only the history of the service, but its missions and heroic efforts as well.
On July 19, 2011, COGAP brought its 2011 collection to Federal Hall National Memorial at 26 Wall Street, the site of the nation’s first Capitol and the place where Hamilton first conceived of the Revenue Cutter Service. The exhibition will run through Aug. 8 and is viewable during Federal Hall’s normal business hours. The show consists of 31 pieces of work from 26 contributing artists that highlight the Coast Guard’s service in the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief and the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the service’s many other responsibilities.
One of the program’s contributing artists is Karen Loew, chairman of the Coast Guard Art Program, who supervised the installation of the Exhibition at Federal Hall. Loew said of the program, “We are the visual historians and the Coasties are our inspiration. To be an artist for the military is a unique way of giving back with the God-given talent we have.”
Shirley McKinney, Superintendent of Federal Hall National Memorial, stated, “We are proud to be partnering with the Coast Guard in such a unique opportunity as this. We look forward to educating the American public on where the Coast Guard was first conceived and the brilliant mind behind this establishment through our collaboration with the Coast Guard to co-host this fine art exhibit."