Uniting US and the Military Women’s Memorial Present Summer with the Arts Freedom Celebration

By East City Art Editorial Team on July 19, 2021

Sat, July 24 2021 — Tue, September 7 2021

‘Til the Death by Leigh Cortez. Five Panels, each 4’ x 12’ Acrylic on canvas, stretched bovine and porcine casing, ink, thread.
Event: Saturday, July 24 from 11am to 4pm

Uniting US is pleased to partner with the Military Women’s Memorial (MWM) and present the Summer with the Arts. The Memorial is located at the ceremonial entrance to Arlington National Cemetery and open during regular hours to the public through September 7, 2021. Park in the Arlington Cemetery garage, walk across the Arlington Memorial Bridge, or come via the Metro.

Leigh Cortez
Featured Speaker 1:00pm
Click here for free tickets

Leigh Cortez is both an Army veteran and spouse of an active-duty combat soldier. She served on active duty with the 10th Mountain Division from 2001 to 2004. After leaving the military she pursued a tattoo apprenticeship and has tattooed professionally in addition to building a fine art career. As a multidisciplinary artist and married to an active-duty soldier, she has lived and worked in various military towns in the United States as well as overseas. The experiences of military life and tattooing in military towns influenced the medium and message of her painted works. Cortez’s work has been featured at Dulles International Airport and is currently on display at the Military Women’s Memorial.

Uniting US works to INSPIRE, EMPOWER, and UNITE veteran communities through the healing power of art. By creating meaningful art, veterans are able to create a narrative to discuss experiences and emotions often left unsaid. They are sometimes able to open a pathway to discussions of the constant refrain: 22 suicides a day. Current challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic add even more physical and mental health issues. While there is no singular silver bullet, art-making and art therapy are proven remedies to provide healing and wellness benefits.

“The range of artworks created by Uniting US Artists for the Summer with the Arts exhibition is breathtaking,” says Uniting US Executive Director, AnnMarie Halterman. More than a hundred artists are represented in the show. Several artists will be on site with demonstrations, performances and Artist Talks. Below is a rundown of the day’s events and a sampling of the Summer with the Arts exhibition.

‘Til the Death by Leigh Cortez. Five Panels, each 4’ x 12’ Acrylic on canvas, stretched bovine and porcine casing, ink, thread.

‘Til the Death by Leigh Cortez
Five Panels, each 4’ x 12’ Acrylic on canvas, stretched bovine and porcine casing, ink, thread

Leigh Cortez is an Army veteran. Her work examines the unpredictability, tension and trauma of military life. “I work both with destroying images indicative of the military tattoo subculture and with material intrinsically associated with destruction, such as the intestines of animals traditionally used for sausage preparation,” says Cortez, who is also a tattoo artist “This material reacts with the mash of tattoo imagery painted on the canvas panels. Whereas the tattoo imagery questions a superficial narrative of military culture, the bovine intestine panels represent a more intimate reality of military life.”

Behavioral Boulevard by Benjamin “Pins” Leese.

Behavioral Boulevard by Benjamin “Pins” Leese

Benjamin Leese is the son of an active-duty Air Force officer. He created Behavioral Blvd when he was 16 years old. This exploration piece expresses his personal feelings and depicts them as cartoon creatures. The underlying theme is that people underestimate the amount of chaos and struggle each person has to go through internally each day. “Being a military brat has allowed me to have so many experiences that have defined who I am,” says Leese. “When my dad was deployed to Afghanistan, I was devastated. I was not sure if he would be coming back and that scared me. People need to understand that veterans go through countless experiences when they leave their families behind to risk everything.”

Portrait of DACA by Ted Berkowitz, Pencil & chalk, 29 x 21.

Portrait of DACA by Ted Berkowitz, Pencil & chalk, 29 x 21

Ted Berkowitz is a Vietnam era Army veteran. His service provided him an opportunity to perfect his artistic representation of service, sacrifice, and war. Honoring all those who served before and after him, Ted’s representational images connect historical references with current day issues. His art perspective of timeless themes thru history weaves in current day issues to draw viewers in. Consider the opposing DACA stances presented as an image resembling the ancient Roman masterpiece, The Dying Gaul statue. A warrior in his final moments, his painful expression as he collapses from a mortal wound. Gifting the viewer the option to decide if the image stirs feelings of courage in defeat, recognition in nobility in an alien race, and part of a highly emotional celebration of the human spirit. Or an alternative conclusion? DACA … a road towards citizenship vs deportation after their demonstration of loyalty and resolve during their service.

Uniting US Artists Onsite at MWM Saturday, July 24th

  • April Goodwin-Gill Army Veteran (painter/jewelry maker)
  • Mark Carson USAF Veteran (woodworking)
  • Matthew Gill USAF Veteran (voice performance)
  • Tan Armentrout USAF Family Member (oil painter)
  • Gail Belmont Army Veteran, WAC (quilter)
  • Lewis Howard Army Veteran (author)
  • Sarah E. Moore Creative Arts Therapist (dance/movement)
  • Ted Berkowitz Army Vietnam Veteran (acrylic painter)
  • Leigh Cortez Army Veteran (tattoo arts performance)
  • R. Cortez Army (poetry reading)
  • Cynthia Scott USAF Veteran (painter)
  • AnnMarie Halterman USAF Veteran, (wood-turner)
  • Benjamin “Pins” Leese USAF Family Member (19-year-old painter)
  • Tiffany Wheeler USAF Family Member (glass/tile/multimedia)

Located at Memorial Ave & Schley Dr. Arlington, VA.