Painting Hanging in the Minnesota Military Museum Summer 2023


July 5th 2023

Today I was finally able to have time to meet Charles Kapsner at the Minnesota Military Museum and see the painting there for myself. Seeing it hanging in the frame on a blank white wall is incredible. One of the most touching parts is that it is in the same room with Charles Kapsner’s historical new painting for the Minnesota women in the guard. My father raised a daughter like those women. I think there is significance in that.

It was a call sunny summer morning when I arrived on base. I handed my driver’s license to the guard who scanned it and gave it back and I drove forward. As you approach the museum you drive past tanks, helicopters, and other military equipment on display. There is a small parking lot alongside the building and I pulled up next to Charlie’s car. We plan to also exchange most of the items I left with him while he was creating the painting, he doesn’t need them anymore and it is time for me to figure out what to do with them next.

I got out of the car with a handful of brochures I had printed to be shared with the painting and walked into this one level, very simple looking building to the welcome space. I paid my $5 admission and ask if they knew where Charles was. They said he was back by the exhibit. So, I headed on in to see where it was located. I walked through the guns and ammo section, entered and walked through the World War II section and then into the hallway of Vietnam stories that lead to the small room with the Best of Him painting on the left wall, with a display case below it displaying some of Charles paints and a paint pallet. I was stunned by how lovely it looked with lights on it. It is hard to imagine that it will soon hang in my house, on my wall. Right now it’s most valuable when it is out telling it’s story and passing the word about grief, love, PTSD, and family.

Charles and I hugged and then we just stood there, taking in the art and its beauty. The room also has stories on the hallway wall from the start of the Vietnam war and on the wall to the right it has the drawings that he did for each of the people in the Minnesota Women of the Guard painting. He does a stunning job of drawing people’s faces and capturing so much of their presence.

After we admired and talked a bit, I took some photos and then we walked out to our cars and exchanged the items I needed to take. After he drove away to get back to his study to continue working on his current flower painting, I went back into the museum and made some videos and took a few more photos. I took time to just sit and be with the memory of my dad and the love he had for me and my brothers.

When I look at this painting right now, it really does help me feel the best of him is still around. As though he is near and still somewhat present. It is a good feeling and one that often brings tears to my eyes. Having it at the museum for the summer is such an honor and I am hoping to make additional connections to continue to allow the painting to be shared with others and hopefully touch other people’s lives in some way. I continue to believe its journey is only at the beginning of its purpose.

Thank you to Charles for helping to make this happen and to Doug Thompson curator at the Minnesota Military Museum. The Minnesota National Guard is currently preparing to build a new military museum on land that was donated for that purpose and right next to the cemetery. More details to come about that.