A score of heroes: Marco portrait exhibit celebrates combat veterans

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent (2)
Malenda Trick in her studio in Old Marco. An exhibit of 20 of her portraits of local combat veterans, as they appeared while serving in the military, will go on display at Iberia Bank just before Veterans' Day.

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent (2) Malenda Trick in her studio in Old Marco. An exhibit of 20 of her portraits of local combat veterans, as they appeared while serving in the military, will go on display at Iberia Bank just before Veterans' Day.

Kate Nolan's enlistment picture from 1943 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Kate Nolan's enlistment picture from 1943 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Earl Hodges in the Merchant Marines

Photo courtesy of the Hodges family

Earl Hodges in the Merchant Marines

MARCO ISLAND _ In the lobby of the Iberia Bank branch on Marco Island on Saturday evening, 20 easels were draped with red, white and blue bunting.

One by one, as the artist unveiled the paintings, the subjects of the portraits underneath came up, and stood looking at their younger selves.

While they fought — and lived to tell about it — on far-flung battlefields all around the world, today the veterans depicted in the Veterans Portrait Project live peacefully in Southwest Florida, split evenly between Naples and Marco Island.

The 19 men and one woman – Kate Nolan, a World War II Army nurse – are the subjects of an exhibit of oil paintings, which opened on Saturday, Veterans' Day Eve, in the bank lobby.

Marco-based artist Malenda Trick painted 20 individual portraits of local combat veterans, 15 who served in World War II and another five from the Vietnam War. She wanted to do something to express her personal thanks to veterans, with an emphasis on combat veterans of World War II, members of the "greatest generation," who are now in old age, if still living, a generation that someday soon will be only a memory.

"I wanted to honor our veterans. I've been watching these World War II documentaries, and I woke up in the early morning hours one day and knew what I needed to do," said Trick, a painter with an international clientele.

So she decided to do what she does best — paint.

The veterans depicted in her paintings are of the type that might be described as "grizzled," but she didn't paint them as they appear today. The oil paintings, many in black-and-white or sepia-toned, depict them as they appeared in their service years. The men in the paintings are young and in uniform.

Owen Carr's portrait looks strikingly youthful, like a high school senior's graduation photo, apart from the Army uniform. Today, Carr walks slowly on crutches, with only one leg to stand on, ever since a Japanese fighter plane's bullets took off the other leg, high above the South Pacific in 1943.

After hanging in Iberia Bank's Marco branch through Nov. 16, the Veterans Portrait Project moves to Iberia's Naples office lobby on Pine Ridge Road for a week, followed by a two-day stop in the Hodges Funeral Home at Naples Memorial Gardens, and two days at Naples Backyard History on Third Street South.

Earl Hodges, who gave his name to both Hodges University and the chain of funeral homes he built, but couldn't be present Saturday night, is another subject of Trick's brush, depicted in front of an ornate Japanese hearse, an ironic piece of foreshadowing.

"Malenda came to me for help putting the project together," said Keith Dameron, vice president and branch manager of Iberia Bank on Marco Island. "She said, 'I don't know any veterans, and I don't know how to put this together.' Malenda specified combat vets, and said it doesn't matter which war. I have a bias toward the World War II vets. We're losing hundreds of them each day."

Peter Thomas on NewsMakers 7-1-12.

Peter Thomas on NewsMakers 7-1-12.

Along with Lee Rubenstein of the VFW and Marco Islander Carole Roberts, Dameron compiled a list of veterans to use as subjects for the paintings.

"We have some true heroes," he said. "Peter Thomas landed in Normandy on D-Day in the first wave. Bedford Biles was a paratrooper in the same invasion. It's nice to show the World War II vets we really appreciate what they did."

Once the exhibit makes its rounds, Trick is giving each of the portraits to its subject.

Clark Shaw, her husband, attorney and business manager, said Trick's canvases sell for up to $6,000 in larger sizes. He estimated the value of each portrait at $2,000.

"These paintings are amazing. She makes it look real," said Jim Kett, inspecting the portrait of his father, World War II Army veteran and Naples resident John Kett.

Jim Prange/Special to Eagle
Marco Island's Herb Savage in front of the Iwo Jima Monument in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Jim Prange

Jim Prange/Special to Eagle Marco Island's Herb Savage in front of the Iwo Jima Monument in Washington, D.C.

He said that only in the past 10 years or so had his father started to tell stories of his wartime experiences.

Many of the veterans included stories of their military service, displayed underneath the paintings.

Herb Savage, a Marco Island resident and Army major when he left the service in 1946, summed it up this way: "I don't think it's necessary to have all this fuss made over Veterans Day — but how nice it is."

_ All of the portraits can be seen online at www.malendatrick.com.

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Comments » 1

mburgard writes:

See this ... The painting itself is called..... In the Company of Heroes
the painter... Matt Hall
.....heres the link....

ttp://www.valorstudios.com/In-The-Company-Of-Heroes.htm
In the Company of Heroes by Matt Hall
www.valorstudios.com

Merv.

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