Interview - Reflections of a Painter
2012 - Contributed by Robert Fisher
The following is an excerpt of an interview with Bob Fisher who recounts the story of the 75th Anniversary of Scouting painting that resided in the Chester County Council office for many years and is now on display in the Octoraro Lodge #22 Lodge Building:
This painting by Jaime Sotomayor was presented to Chester County Council in 1985 for the 75th Anniversary of Scouting. It depicts a picture of HSR, but is an allegory of Scouting looking to the past but always moving forward.
1985 - Contributed by Andrew Coe
"The artist's name is Jaime Sotomayor
, born in the Castillian region of Spain, studied fine arts in Madrid and at the Vatican. Prior to WWII, he emmigrated to the United States and was employed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a forensic restorer and also he did work with authentication of artwork the museum wanted to buy. During WWII, he participated in the European Theater as a paratrooper with over 100 jumps to his credit.
When he retired from the museum he moved to Downingtown... he became my next door neighbor. Jaime was very prolific in his artwork; when he wasn't painting for the museum, he did portraits, self-employed as a portrait painter. [He] fell on some hard times and we [The Fishers] used to give him meals periodically and he'd deliver a painting the next day to pay. He was a very very proud man.
In the Spring of 1985 during the 75th anniversary, I got the idea to give him something to do. So I commissioned him to do a piece of art to donate to council. We came down to camp on an OA work weekend and we walked all over the camp, including Camp Ware. He never made a sketch, never took a note. When we got back home, he gave me his ideas, and what you see is the painting that resulted from that. This is an Allegorical painting. If you look at it, you see on the left a Scout from around 1910 and behind him, the entrance way to the Chapel. You'll notice that the trail is blocked. He cannot go back. On the right, you have a Scout from temporary times, 1985, and behind him, the trail is wide open. In the center, you see the fire pit at the OA circle. The arrow is pointing to the rock. Above the rocks, you see, floating in the clouds, the United States flag and the Scout fleur-de-lis. So, you can't go back in history, but you can go forward. Scouting is always onward and upward, so the sky's the limit. Basically, that is the interpretation of the painting. The frame is hand-made, white pine, stained walnut, hand-carved and put together, and was presented to the lodge at a supplicant weekend during 1985....
Painter Jaime Sotomayor is putting the finishing touches of his painting about Scouting and HSR.
1985 - Contributed by Robert Fisher
.... He [Jaime] had some interesting anecdotes. He knew [Pablo] Picasso, he graduated from the art school Picasso got kicked out of, because Picasso was kind of radical for his time. And he said there were several paintings the Metropolitan Museum had purchased and had been authenticated elsewhere and he proved them to be forgeries therefore saving the museum millions of dollars. And all based on the fact that he was an academic painter and he was taught in the old school, the Renaissance type painter. And he knew that these paintings, they didn't use the same paint they did back then for their alleged age.
He said that as part of his graduating credits from the art school at the vatican that all the students had to do a portrait of the cardinal in charge of the school at the time. And the way the painting were graded is the Pope came in and graded the paintings. Not the Cardinal in charge of the school. And the winning painting went into the Vatican collection. Jaime, according to Jaime, his painting went into the Vatical collection for that year, the year he graduated. So the man was no slouch. And a very loving person, he was a hugger! He died of stomach cancer around 88, 89. So I knew briefly. Just 3 or 4 years. Very fond of that man."