MARSHALL, Texas — Before the invention of photography, the story of war and battles were told through the imagination of artists, many of whom never served a day in uniform.
Their works of art, brightly colored with heroic images of war heroes, romanticized the "universe of battle."
Ask any soldier brave enough to don a uniform and head into battle, their experience may paint a totally different picture. Their pictures may be darker in color, with ghostly images of loss and struggle to persevere.
Bob Snead, a veteran whose tours of duty included a stint in the Vietnam War, captured the struggles of the common soldier through the eyes of the famed 'Buffalo Soldiers'.
"I was in the army and I worked as a draftsman," Snead said regarding one of his first positions in the military. "Because of my art background, I was totally fit for that."
He served in the military for nearly three decades, from 1954 until 1982.The retired veteran was also a dual-rated pilot, who earned 41 air medals, three Purple Hearts, and a host of other accolades.
While in the military, he continued to foster his love for art, painting his first piece, 'The Buffalo Soldier' before he left for Vietnam.
Most of Snead's artwork captures major milestones of the first black men in the military.
His latest exhibit, highlights the 'Buffalo Soldiers'. The group of men belonged to six all-black regiments created in the 1866, who despite facing obvious racism courageously helped rebuild the country following the Civil War.
"It's not black history, it's American history," Snead said, while discussing the importance of the 'Buffalo Soldiers'.
He said he didn't learn about the group of men until 1956, two years after he joined the military.
"I was absolutely flabbergasted, I was so fascinated," he added. "I said, I have got to tell this story and the best way for me to tell this story is to paint."
Utilizing his love for art, he began to tell the story of the 'Buffalo Soldier.'
According to Snead, his paintings hang in the Texas Governor's Mansion, as well as around the world.
As an artist, Snead has many accolades and his credentials are numerous, but his latest diagnosis may prove to be one of his toughest tests thus far.
"In 2015, I was diagnosed with Stage Four colon cancer," he said.
That's what brought Snead to East Texas, and for the sake of this article, what brought his timeless artwork to Marshall, a city that he says will likely be the final place he'll show his current exhibit.
"The one thing I know for sure is that there is only going to be one place in East Texas for my art, and that's this gallery," he said. "I'm not going to go to Longview to set up anything."
Snead's 'Buffalo Soldiers' exhibit is currently on display at the Michelson Museum of Art and will remain there until March 15.
He says he's only showcasing his artwork to encourage others to learn about the 'Buffalo Soldiers' and the role they played in American history.
"This is your history and you should enjoy it," Snead said. "This is for your enjoyment only, that's the only reason I put this together is for people to enjoy it."
He also emphasized that people should not feel obligated to purchase a piece, instead, he wants the community to come and enjoy the exhibit while, "learning this slice of history, because it's our history, all of us."
IF YOU GO:
You can view the exhibit during the hours listed below, however Snead will host an artist reception, Tuesday, March 5 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Michelson Museum of Art.
Tuesday to Friday 10am to 4pm
Saturday 1pm to 4pm
Phone Number: 903-935-9480
216 North Bolivar Street
Marshall, Texas 75670
IF YOU MISS THE EXHIBIT:
You can reach out to Shelly at the Marshall Frame Gallery to discuss viewing options. Snead said the Marshall Frame Gallery will be the only place you can view some of the pieces following the exhibit's stint at the Michelson Museum.
Phone Number: 903-935-9480