Colton artist back from Puerto Rico assignment for Coast Guard
Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - 9:27 am

COLTON -- Artist Robert Selby of Colton recently returned from U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan in Puerto Rico on assignment for the Coast Guard Art Program.

While aboard the U.S.C.G.C. Tezanos, a fast response cutter, Selby produced a sketchbook that chronicled cutter operations during two weeks of patrols.

Activity included the interdiction of a small craft from Colombia implicated in cocaine smuggling, the interception of a small open boat bearing 21 illegal immigrants from Ecuador, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and assistance rendered to a motor yacht in a typical search and rescue operation.

The artist observed the return of the alleged smugglers to authorities in the Dominican Republic and the burning of their craft at sea.

Sketchbook entries record the processing of the migrants, 11 of whom were turned over to Puerto Rican police authorities for further investigation while the remaining group was bound over to the Dominican Navy in an exchange at sea.

Artist’s sketches and notes also follow the escort of the disabled boat encountered in the search and rescue operation safely back to port.

Both the sketchbook and a planned painting based on the cutter operations will be exhibited in New York City in June of 2019 and are expected to become part of the U.S. Coast Guard permanent art collection.

Selby’s last deployment with the Coast Guard Art Program was to the Arctic aboard the Ice Breaker U.S.C.G.C. Healy in 2014. The painting of the Healy’s Arctic operation is now on exhibit in the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, Finland.

Other recent projects by the Colton-based artist include a painting in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s touring exhibition, “Reimagining the Four Freedoms” at the Hunter College Gallery in New York City. The exhibition of the four original “Four Freedoms” canvases by Rockwell, coupled with 37 works by contemporary artists on the theme of freedom, will tour the United States in several exhibitions over the next three years.

Selby has spent most of his career as a professional artist and illustrator.

In more recent years, he was an art professor and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and retired this past spring after 12 years at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt.