Hidden in Plain Sight

The Other People in Norman Rockwell's America

Non-Fiction - General
143 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.

Katelyn Hensel

One of America's most beloved painters, Norman Rockwell's work is classic. Used in reproductions, spoofs, and movies even today, Rockwell's relevance spans decades. In Hidden in Plain Sight, Jane Allen Petrick depicts the other side of Norman Rockwell's work. It turns out, Rockwell was ahead of his time in addition to being an artistic master. While his most famous paintings feature white families in domestic bliss, history has neglected to show his other paintings. Rockwell portrays African-American families along with their white counterparts. Instead of the expected, biased view typical of a white male of that time, Rockwell showed an equality, compassion, and empathy which was rare in those days.

I loved the narrative take on the minorities of America's bustling 1900s. Rockwell painted models of almost every race, from the downtrodden and segregated African-Americans, to the somber and heartbroken Native Americans. There are bits of humor that make the tough and conflicting issues that occur just part of a great story that Jane Allen Petrick weaves together out of many people's personal histories, triumphs, and sorrows. It was a very warm-hearted and fun journey through a past of an American legend that has never really been told before. Hidden in Plain Sight shows a beautiful and fun kind of history. It's the kind that has not been told within the confines of a normal history of Rockwell. Any history or art buff will love to get their hands on this fascinating display of culture, history, and an America revealed.

Author Anna del C. Dye

Hidden in Plain Sight: The Other People in Norman Rockwell’s America by Jane Allen Petrick is an outstanding book about colored people in the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I thoroughly enjoyed the flow of the research and the words used in this inspiring book. It is a well thought-out book that follows the life and paintings of the great artist.

Jane Allen Petrick had a question in her heart and she did a lot of research to support her findings. This well-written book is the result. It is tastefully done and left me with the feeling of great accomplishment. Petrick’s book sets out to prove that the all-American white artist Norman Rockwell did have colored people in his paintings. In many articles and different stories about the artist, she could find nothing written about the models of color in the paintings. It was as if no one could see them or else were afraid to notice them.

Her quest was to prove to the world that Norman Rockwell indeed loved and included colored people in his paintings and it is all right to see them. I believe that she has done that and more. Hidden in Plain Sight is a must-have book for all those who love Rockwell's paintings. I highly recommend it for the great history lesson and the discoveries you will find in its pages. It will help you see with different eyes and appreciate more the artist and his work. It is a book worth every cent you pay for it.