Garner, North Carolina artist Vincent Wood finds inspiration in many places. In March of this year however, Vincent found inspiration in a place he never envisioned and created a work of art that has helped the healing process of Vietnam veterans everywhere.
Vincent along with his twin brother Victor began their artistic careers at an early age. Enduring the loss of their mother when they were 16, the twins focused on developing the artistic talents they had shown from an early age. Vincent’s career really began to blossom in 2000 when Topps commissioned him to do the design for 6 special insert cards in their premium set. While he will paint just about any subject Vincent has focused on professional sports and has provided commissioned pieces to athletes, teams, and corporations.
Earlier this year, Vincent was asked to provide a painting for a very special event; the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway in March, an event attended by over 62,000 people. But what began as another painting for Vincent turned into something very special for both the artist and the subjects involved in the artwork.
Vince was commissioned by local vet Bruce “Red” Callahan, to do a small painting for him to take to the event. That painting has since become a symbol of healing for many veterans.
“The painting I dedicated at the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Celebration at Charlotte Motor Speedway this year was personal and moving for me,” Vincent said.” I studied the war and from that spawned an affection and appreciation for those that served. Being asked to artistically welcome home my heroes was the honor of my lifetime. Being in their company at the event was the greatest day of my life.”
As he worked on the painting at the event, Vince was approached by many of the veterans and they in turn would become an inspiration for the artist who ended up including many of them in the painting.
“As a NASCAR fan since the early 80’s I have drawn and painted scenes, drivers, and even CMS many times,” he said. “I have been to the Memorial Day race there many times and seen how they support our troops. Being a part of an event so significant in my home state, honoring my heroes at a speedway that has been a part of my life since childhood has led me to a commitment with the USO-NC to help them raise money through print sales of the painting.”
That he would think of doing something charitable with the artwork isn’t unusual. Vincent’s life hasn’t been just about providing a living for himself and his family as an artist. Many times through the years, Vince has donated artwork to raise money for charities. In honor of his mother, Vince and his brother donate their time and artistic efforts to fighting cancer. They also donate art to such things as auctions for women who can’t afford basic medical care and assistance.
The Veterans painting is no different. Vince has displayed the work at veteran’s events around the state on what Vince calls a “circuit of healing and honor”. One recent event was hosted by Vince to commemorate veterans in his hometown of Garner. Sure Vince wants to sell the painting, but he wants to find a good home for it. Vince wants to ensure that wherever it ends up, it’s a place where veterans can see and appreciate it. Until that place is found, Vince will continue to loan it out and allow the healing it provides to continue.
“Unexpectedly this painting has carried a healing power, and nearly every Vietnam Vet has opened up to me, cried with me, and told me their story,” Vince said. “I’m humbled by its measure and thankful to God for the opportunity.”
Vince isn’t an artist who wants only to display his work in a gallery; he wants to give back using the talent that God gave him. A talent made even more special when you consider the obstacle that he has: Vincent Wood is colorblind, yet can create works of art that inspire, honor and heal those it touches.
Working with the USO of North Carolina, Vince has created a limited number of hand signed prints available for purchase with the proceeds going to the USO. You can find out more and purchase one of the prints by visiting: http://www.twinartists.com/VietnamVeteransHomecoming.html
Greg Engle is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. He served in support of Operation Just Cause, Desert Shield/Storm and ended his military career in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.Greg can be contacted at gregory.engle (AT) us.army.mil