inspiration at Lackland
By Mike Joseph,
Four freelance artists spent last week on base, observing Team
Lackland’s mission as part of the Air Force art program.
The four artists, of various backgrounds, locales and ages, were
shuttled about base by Tracy English, 37th Training Wing
historian. No stone was left unturned as the artists
photographed, sketched, and made mental pictures of images to
recreate on canvas for the art program.
Mr. English said there are nearly 9,000 pieces in the art
program, and that Lackland was lucky to have an art gallery on
the second floor of the basic military training reception
center. The gallery contains 70 pieces that reflect Air Force
“I’m hoping they will do pieces reflecting enlisted heritage,
pieces of artwork we can get and put on display at the art
gallery,” said Mr. English. “Their mission here is to see our
mission, to see what we do day in, day out.”
One of the artists in the group, Dick Kramer, made his first
trip to Lackland 41 years ago, and sees the changes.
“Yeah, even the Alamo looks older,” the Leesburg, Va., resident,
said with a hearty laugh.
Mr. Kramer said 25 years ago he did a rendering of a Minot Air
Force Base, N.D., security officer and his dog. He wants to
update that piece, so his focus during this visit was Security
Forces and the working dog program.
Photo by Alan Boedeker
Tony Stencel, a freelance
artist with the Air Force Art Program, takes photos of
trainees during the Airman's Run July 11. The team
visited Lackland to learn about the 37th Training Wing
so they can produce paintings or drawings to illustrate
the wing’s missions.
As he stepped off
the elevator on the second floor of the Security Forces museum,
he yelled out, “Oh, my God! That’s the drawing,” referring to an
Airman montage he’d done years ago.
A split-second later, he cried “Holy cow! That’s the Airman!”
about a second sketch, this one a duplicate of his earlier
drawing from Minot.
After catching his breath, Mr. Kramer said, “I want to do an
absolute perfect update (on the officer and dog) and I got it.”
His freelance work for the Air Force was “the fun job,” and he
expected to have five or six pieces ready for the group’s
October 2010 presentation to the Air Force.
Tony Stencel, who lives in Chicago, was enthralled with basic
“It’s amazing to see these young and patriotic people going
through what they’re doing,” he said. “They know full well what
the ramifications are. My mantra is to honor, through art, those
Mr. Stencel has been involved with the art program since 2002,
and is one of the few combat artists to work the field in
Afghanistan to capture images for his paintings.
Another of the group’s artists, Scott Gandell from South
Pasadena, Calif., said he would try “a little bit of everything”
in creating illustrations about Lackland.
“I like detail, little details,” he said. Mr. Gandell
specializes in primarily pen and ink, black and white, with a
minimal amount of color.
The fourth member of the group, Nilo Santiago, retired in 2003
after serving as the official artist of the Air Force based at
He said his painting focus would reflect Lackland’s mission.