Hidden in Plain Sight

The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America

Non-Fiction - General
140 Pages
Reviewed on 08/02/2013
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Author Biography

Author of One of Kirkus Review's Best Indie Books in 2013!
Jane was told she ought to be a writer way back when she was a fourteen year old freshman at Notre Dame Girls’ High School. But she didn’t want to hear it.
She did not want to be a writer. She did not want the isolation that sets in when a writer gets into “the zone”, what the author Mavis Gallant calls “the plunging in (that) frightens me”. So Jane set off to Barnard College and majored in Economics.
But life is what happens when we’ve made other plans. After completing a doctorate in Organizational Psychology, Jane established her own consulting practice. One of her clients, who had connections with Addison-Wesley, told the publishing house about her psychological approach to time management. The next thing she knew, Jane had written and published Beyond Time Management.

Then one of her in-laws began dating a staff writer at Ridge Press. During a cocktail party, he bemoaned the fact that he had an assignment to write a biography of Otis Redding for young adult readers and he didn’t know where to begin. Without thinking (maybe it was the cocktails), Jane began babbling on about research steps that were, thanks to a good liberal arts education and the gauntlet of earning a doctorate, second nature to her. The next thing she knew, Jane had a contract with Ridge Press and had written and published The Otis Redding Story.
The rest, as they say, is history ....

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

In Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America, author Jane Allen Petrick tells the story of the Rockwell models who were people of color. She also brings to life a Norman Rockwell that the vast majority of people never knew -- a man who saw the world as multi-cultural and was thwarted in every instance of his attempts to portray that world in his art. Petrick interviewed child models, now middle-aged, to get a first-hand account of what it was like to be a Rockwell model and how he affected their lives. This book is, in many respects, an artistic biography of Rockwell, and it chronicles his struggles with and despair at the magazine The Saturday Evening Post, whose conservative editor only allowed blacks in the publication if they were in subservient positions. Rockwell's own ideology was quite progressive, and he came to hate the magazine that created a Rockwell persona so far from the reality of who he was. Petrick concludes her work by citing African-American artists who were greatly influenced by Rockwell's work, who saw those hidden in plain sight.

Jane Allen Petrick's book should be required reading in art history classes. It's that good. It should also be required reading for anyone interested in United States history and the fight for civil rights and progress in our nation. I had no idea who Rockwell was before I read this book and harbored a vague contempt for the man whenever he was mentioned as an American artist. The great cover-up and whitewash Petrick exposes is much too effective. What an inspiring man Rockwell was, and how much I would have liked to have known him. Petrick's work shows him finally in a light Rockwell would have felt at ease with and even delighted in. Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America is an amazing piece of scholarship and very highly recommended.