Combat Artist Chip Beck’s Gettysburg Experience



Tanya Ortega, Founder of National Parks Arts Foundation (NPAF), as well as award-winning combat artist and US Veteran Chip Beck, return to Big Blend Radio for a follow-up conversation covering Chip’s artist-in-residence experience at Gettysburg National Military Park. Listen to the podcast below, and also enjoy the song ‘Colors of the USA’ by Billboard charting contemporary vocalist, Doreen Taylor. To hear Chip’s first Big Blend Radio interview, CLICK HERE.

In Fall 2017, U.S. veteran and award-winning combat artist Chip Beck was Gettysburg National Military Park’s artist-in-residence. Beck is a retired U.S. Navy Commander, combat artist, and cartoonist who has personally witnessed 20 wars on four continents, traveling to 130 countries and islands to record historical and political events with his camera, pencils, pens, and paints. Beck is one of several military veterans selected for the Gettysburg National Military Park Artist-in-Residence program.


Beck has a long and distinguished career, and considers himself an artistic heir to Remington, Russell, and Leigh, recording life and culture from the rough and rowdy places of the world. He has served as the Director of the State Department’s African peacekeeper training program, and as the U.S. Navy’s official combat artist in Operation Desert Storm. He has been an unofficial artistic chronicler of history in war zones ranging from Vietnam (1969) to Iraq (2003-2005). In 2013, Beck was asked by the Zimbabwean opposition to draw 100 editorial cartoons on site during Morgan Tsvangirai’s unsuccessful bid to oust Dictator Robert Mugabe from power. Soldier of Fortune magazine once referred to him as the only painter who could honestly claim to be the Cold War’s official combat artist.


Beck has early ties to Gettysburg National Military Park and the surrounding area. “As a kid in the 1950s, I grew up near Antietam battlefield and visited Gettysburg on several occasions,” said Beck. “More recently, I have tracked a sizable portion of my ancestors who lived and settled in the Gettysburg, Fairfield, Carroll Valley, and Liberty Mountain areas, including during the battle of Gettysburg.”


The Gettysburg battlefield has a long artistic tradition that includes sketches by Alfred Waud during the fighting in 1863, the iconic photography of Alexander Gardner in the immediate aftermath of battle, and commemorative works by Gutzon Borglum and many others.


“Gettysburg National Military Park has offered inspiration to artists for more than 150 years,” said Chuck Hunt, acting superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park. “The Artist-in-Residence program engages new audiences and tells Gettysburg’s stories in new and compelling ways.”

  • Blood Moon Over Pickett Charge
    Blood Moon Over Pickett Charge

Programs like Gettysburg National Military Park’s artist-in-residence series, in which acclaimed artists find inspiration from the beauty and history of our national parks, and share their ideas with park visitors, represent some of the highest aspirations of the National Park Service.


The program is offered thanks to the input and support of the National Park Service and the Gettysburg Foundation and the partnership with the Poetry Foundation, whose joint efforts make the park the foremost visitor destination for those interested in the epic history of the American Civil War. Gettysburg National Military Park preserves, protects and interprets for this and future generations the resources associated with the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, during the American Civil War, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, and their commemorations.


The National Parks Arts Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the promotion of the National Parks of the U.S. by creating dynamic opportunities for artworks that are based in our natural and historic heritage. This project is supported by the Gettysburg Foundation and other generous benefactors. All NPAF programs are made possible through the philanthropic support of donors ranging from corporate sponsors and small businesses, to art patrons and citizens – lovers of the parks .

National Parks Arts Foundation

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