Art that takes you to the front lines

June 26, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, PA. - The scene under a Baghdad bridge in April 2003 is reminiscent of the siege at Bastogne in the winter of 1944, Custer's last stand in 1876 or the American retreat from the Chinese in Korea in 1950.

Larry Selman, a freelance artist who specializes in military and historic scenes, has been commissioned for the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., to do a large painting based on the fighting in Iraq.

Selman, 47, of 616 Spring Hill Drive in Waynesboro, came up with a U.S. Army unit of about 80 soldiers, medics and a chaplain who are pinned down under a bridge on the outskirts of Baghdad a few days after U.S. forces moved into Iraq.


The fight took place on April 7, 2003.

"The Army had just entered the city," Selman said.

Selman's painting, which stretches over a 3-foot-by-6-foot canvas, shows soldiers holding an intersection in the face of a heavy attack by Iraqis.

An NBC cameraman embedded with the troops recorded the fight.

Selman has a copy of the video that shows actual battle scenes. He also went to Fort Stewart, Ga., to interview soldiers who were in the fight.

"They drew me a map that showed how things were laid out that day," Selman said.

He also photographed vehicles of the type the soldiers had with them that day to ensure accuracy in his painting.

It took more than a year to do the research for the painting, Selman said.

Selman likes details, such as the scene in a corner of the bridge showing medics bent over a wounded GI and the thermos of coffee on one of the vehicles in the painting.

"One guy drank coffee all day long and I wanted to point that out," he said.

Selman used Army medical personnel from Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., as models for the painting.

It was commissioned by a graduating class as a gift to the Army War College. The original will hang at the college.

Selman is bringing the painting to Cincinnati this weekend to be photographed so it can be turned into prints.

His next commission is for the National Guard Heritage Series. That work will depict the exploits of Sgt. Joseph Farinholt of the 29th Division. Farinholt won four Silver Stars in the fighting in Europe during World War II.

Selman's early works illustrated covers for children's books and Western novels. Later, he was commissioned by Hasbro Inc. to do the artwork for boxes in the GI Joe toy series and the toy company's Jurassic Park series.

In 1998, an art director for Hasbro called Selman "one of most talented illustrators working in the country today. He creates an environment that creates details."

Selman, son of a career Army man stationed at Fort Ritchie, grew up in Waynesboro. He graduated from Waynesboro Area Senior High School in 1976 and from the York (Pa.) Academy of Art in 1982.

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