Monday, February 18, 2008

Local Artist to Receive National Honor

The National Museum of Naval Aviation recently announced Marc Stewart as the recipient of the 2008 R.G. Smith Award for “excellence in naval aviation art.” The prestigious honor is awarded annually to a single artist. The Museum’s Foundation selects the recipient.

Upon receiving the news from the Museum, Stewart’s initial reaction was one of disbelief. “At first I thought it was a mistake,” he laughs. “Actually, I feel honored to be so recognized for my work. It means a lot to me.”

Unlike a competition or a juried exhibit that may recognize one piece of artwork, the R.G. Smith Award is a career honor, similar to a lifetime achievement award. The namesake of the award, Robert Grant or R.G. Smith contributed immeasurably to the preservation of the proud heritage and rich history of naval aviation through his 50-plus year career as an aeronautical engineer and accomplished artist, according to the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. Previous recipients include Jack Fellows, Keith Ferris, Roy Grinnell, Stan Stokes and numerous other artists at the top of the highly niched field of aviation art. Marc Stewart is pleased to now be counted among them.

Stewart shares the accolades with his supportive family. “I want to dedicate this to my Dad, the late Marcus Stewart, and to my Mom, Marilyn,” the artist explains. Both parents were talented artists themselves. “They’ve always encouraged me artistically. Aside from my wife, Robin, they’ve been my biggest cheerleaders and biggest fans. I wouldn’t be in this position without them.” Both Stewart and his father served in the U.S. Navy, which gives the award another dimension of personal meaning.

In May, the Naval Aviation Museum will bestow the award to Stewart at their annual symposium in Pensacola. During the ceremony, Stewart will present one of his original oil paintings to the Museum as a donation to their permanent collection. “I’m definitely excited,” says Stewart. “For an aviation artist, there’s simply no higher honor. It just doesn’t get any bigger or better than this. I’m thrilled!”

Stewart currently has 20 pieces of artwork on display at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler, Georgia, near Savannah, as part of their “Southern Wings” exhibit. That show runs through early April. Twice his art has earned awards from Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. In 2006, his painting “Hell Over the Hadley” won Best in Show at the National Museum of Naval Aviation’s juried exhibition. Marc Stewart is an Artist Fellow of ASAA, the American Society of Aviation Artists, and an active member of the Newnan Coweta Art Association. His work may be viewed online at

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