Anthony Sienkiewicz didn’t start out painting historic battle scenes. He spent most of his life working in plumbing design, painting on the side.
But he did meet his wife while serving on the West Coast at Fort Lewis near Seattle, and credits her with influencing his turn toward military art.
Theirs is a love story that stretched across the continent. He brought her back east to Bayonne, where he grew up and still lives.
For Elise Rich, to whom Anthony has been married for almost 60 years, this was a kind of reverse of the 1960s classic TV show Green Acres. Instead of a city girl being brought out to the country, their tale is about a country girl coming to one of the prominent industrial cities in the East.
“It was a shock,” she said. “But we did fine.”
While Sienkiewicz’s artwork has graced some of the more prominent public venues in Bayonne and those associated with Hudson County artists, on Oct. 9, he will unveil his work in Secaucus Town Hall in a one-man show.
How he wound up in Secaucus from Bayonne is something of a mystery, even to Mayor Michael Gonnelli, but apparently he was recommended to Secaucus by other artists. Secaucus, like Bayonne, has a long history as a patriotic town.
“Once I got started doing this, I just kept doing them,” Anthony said.
“Once I got started doing this, I just kept doing them.” – Anthony Sienkiewicz
For a long time, he did not do work in oil, because that medium took a lot of time, and his long hours working kept him from dedicating the time necessary. But once he retired in 2000, he joined oil paint group at the Bayonne Senior Center.
His wife’s research into her family’s history started his interest in military subjects, he said.
Rich had an ancestor who served as an artillery captain in the American Revolution, so he painted “Revolutionary War DAR,” in his wife’s honor.
“That’s her there,” said Rich, pointing to the depiction of a woman in the painting.
Rich is a member of a Hudson County-based chapter of the Daughters of American Revolution. She has for a time been influenced in her knitting by his paintings as well.
Although not an African American, Sienkiewicz followed up with a series of paintings honoring Black servicemen from during WWI and WWII.
His series now includes paintings from the American Revolution to contemporary conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, a good sampling of which will appear on display in Secaucus.
He will be displaying in Secaucus about 16 of his patriotic paintings as a commemoration leading up to Veterans Day in November.
A reception will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 9 in Town Hall from 7 to 9 p.m., where residents can meet the artist. The paintings will remain on display in the lobby until Nov. 15.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.