Dakota Midday: Painter James Pollock And The Vietnam Combat Art Program

Jun 10, 2015

During the Vietnam War, James Pollock entered combat zones armed with a .45 pistol, canteen, camera and sketchbook. The South Dakota native was one of 46 U.S. Army Soldiers commissioned to chronicle the war as a part of the Vietnam Combat Art Program. After two months accompanying soldiers on patrol, Pollock and the other artists were shipped to studios in Hawaii to finish their work. It became property of the U.S. Army Art Collection at the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

"Looking Down the Trail" - Watercolor, by James Pollock, CAT IV, 1967
Credit National Museum of the U.S. Army

Pollock's experience in Vietnam was the beginning of a career as a professional artist. Although over the years he's worked in a variety of styles and painted a variety of subjects, the Pierre artist is perhaps best known today as a plein air landscape artist - one who paints on location outdoors.

The East Bank Art Gallery in Sioux Falls has an exhibit of Pollock's small works on paper this month. His work is also included in the Artists of the Black Hills exhibit at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City. On Saturday morning, Pollack will discuss his experiences in the Vietnam Combat Art Program during a meeting of the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group.

More details about James Pollock (CAT IV, 1967)experiences as a soldier artist can be found in an essay written for War, Literature and the Arts, an international journal published by Deparment of English, US Air Force Academy. The PDF formatted essay is in public domain and can be downloaded from South Dakota State University Briggs Library Open PRAIRIE repository. Download is free.
http://openprairie.sdstate.edu/alumni_pubs/1/