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World War II propaganda posters, Calumet Region photography on display at CVPA

World War II propaganda posters, Calumet Region photography on display at CVPA

World War II propaganda posters and photographs of heavy industry in the Calumet Region are on display at the Center for Virtual and Performing Arts in Munster.

The South Shore Arts Gallery at 1040 Ridge Road is displaying "Work, Fight, Give! Fighting From the Homefront" through April 12. The exhibition features more than 60 World War II propaganda and relief posters to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

"'Work, Fight, Give: Fighting from the Homefront' focuses on those who gave their artistic talents to design posters that were aimed at the hearts of Americans," South Shore Arts said in a news release. "They were intended to persuade citizens to donate their time, resources and money towards war relief efforts that would aid soldiers fighting overseas and countries left broken and devastated after the war."

It features posters and other memorabilia from Exhibits USA and the Detroit Historical Society. It includes many famous pieces like the "I Want You for the U.S. Army" recruitment poster and the "You help someone you know ... when you give to the USO" poster that features a grunt smoking a cigarette and drinking a mug of coffee.

"Many American artists and illustrators designed these propaganda posters, which often displayed historical and cultural symbols representing various countries and cultures," the South Shore Arts said in a news release. "Among the contributing artists who were employed by various war relief agencies were American Gothic painter Grant Wood, illustrator Arthur Szyk, comic artist James Montgomery Flagg and Martha Ward. The exhibit provides information on the artists who created these posters, along with agency leaders, movie stars, celebrities and volunteers, all of whom helped to make these designs a reality."

The South Shore Arts Gallery also is showing 120 of the 225 "COVID-19: Labor Camp Reports" posters that Minneapolis-based artist Piotr Szyhalski created to depict the coronavirus pandemic and the political response, some of which also are on display at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City.

"The installation of Szyhalski’s posters anchors the center of the gallery, while the World War II posters surround the perimeter," South Shore Arts said in a news release. "By exhibiting these two bodies of work in the same space, South Shore Arts is asking the viewer to consider the connections between the past and present, especially as they relate to messaging and public persuasion through artistic means."

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South Shore Arts also is displaying the work of the Calumet Region-based photographer Matthew Kaplan in the Atrium Gallery.

"Matthew Kaplan: Straight Shooter" depicts the intersection of heavy industry with everyday life in the Calumet Region, showing the BP Whiting Refinery, Marktown, steel mills and the Calumet River in Chicago.

"Born and raised in the Calumet Region, Matthew Kaplan’s life in photography spans over 50 years," the South Shore Arts said in a news release. "Beginning with work on his high school yearbook, Kaplan’s professional career continues to this day, with a specialty in corporate location and event photography. Assignments have taken him to more than 20 nations on four continents, covering subjects from chemical plants in Belgium and Malaysia, wheat farmers in Saskatchewan, and offshore gas production in the North Sea. He has photographed people and events from Dublin to Beijing."

He's a Whiting native with an eye for shots like a house festooned with Christmas lights against the backdrop of the flare stacks of the refinery.

"For over three decades, Matthew Kaplan has been documenting the evolving social-industrial landscape in and around his hometown of Whiting Indiana, with its sprawling oil refinery and nearby steel mills," South Shore Arts said in a news release. "Kaplan’s work from this ongoing project has been displayed in a number of exhibitions sponsored by South Shore Arts and the Calumet Heritage Partnership."

Both exhibits are free and open to the public.

The South Shore Arts Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information, visit or call 219-836-1839.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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