By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- In back-to-back trips, Air Mobility Command bases hosted visits by artists with the Air Force Art Program to have them document, and later recreate in their own "mind's eye," what they experienced with AMC people, planes and activities.

In late-July, artists Paul Rendel of Milton, Del., and Scott Bakal of Boston, Mass., attended Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. They were escorted by Mark Morgan of the AMC History Office. At Rodeo, they saw the various air mobility-based events and competitions and documented the effort using their sketch books, cameras and other means.

"Coming to Rodeo gave me a much better understanding about the military," Bakal said. "It's amazing how it takes all these different people to make the mission move."

Rendel, who along with Bakal are members of the New York Society of Illustrators, said his visit was "very positive."

"I met a lot of great people," Rendel said. "They all had a positive attitude and their professionalism is evident in the pride they have for their work."

After Rodeo, Morgan took two more artists to Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. -- Bryan Snuffer of Muskegon, Mich., and Tom Herzberg of Chicago, Ill. Morgan said they participated in a KC-135 flight that included an in-flight refueling, observed military working dogs in action, saw aircraft maintainers do their job and a whole lot more.

"Both had a great time and hopefully came away with a lot of great ideas," Morgan said.

The program

Established in 1950, the Air Force Art Program has covered every major operation in which the service has been involved, said Russell Kirk, Air Force Art Program director who works for the secretary of the Air Force administrative assistant's office at the Pentagon. The program currently has more than 160 active artists. The works accumulated over the past 59 years numbers in the hundreds.

"The way the program operates is we work with the Society of Illustrators of New York and Los Angeles as well as the Northwest, Southwest, Southeast and Midwest Air Force Artists' Groups," Kirk said. "Each has a chairman who we coordinate trips with and schedule artists to travel. We also have a select group of artists who can be ready at short notice to travel and cover events such as deployed operations or any other type of emergency deployment the Air Force is involved in. These artists are all volunteers and take time from their families and jobs to follow in our airmen's footsteps and document our mission."

Jeff Michalke manages the Air Force Art Program account and collection that AMC holds, which is in the top five in size in the Air Force. He said artists bring a different perception to documenting events when compared to photography and videography.

"An artist's perception is unique in its own right," Michalke said. "Artists come up with totally different and unique paintings, drawings and art pieces. From what I've seen in the art program, these artists find creative ways to include Air Force heritage and the action they see. The end products are incredible."

Meet the artists

Paul Rendel:
Rendel has been a part of the Air Force Art Program for more than 15 years. A professional freelance artist, his biography at states he "is well-known for the artistry in his commercial work, wildlife art and aviation paintings. Rendel considers himself a story teller. A good painting starts with a vision of a moment in time. Supported by the truth, it seeks an emotional response."

The biography also shows Rendel has had aviation paintings -- mainly oil paintings -- featured at museums and shows across the U.S. His early training in art was at the Detroit Institute of Arts and his 30 years of experience in art studios and work as a free-lance artist have "enabled him to excel in combining technical knowledge with artistic quality."

Besides painting, Rendel is also a sculpture artist. His biography states, "His main hobby is carving aged lumber into wood sculptures, including elaborate full-size birds of prey."

Rendel said he has approximately 15 art pieces donated to the Air Force art program. In recent years, he's covered deployed and humanitarian operations for the Air Force to include for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Unified Relief. He's also completed work on special operations training at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and painted a night scene of a B-2 Spirit. From his trip to Washington, Rendel said he plans on creating at least one large painting with an emphasis on people.

Scott Bakal:
Bakal is a relative newcomer to the Air Force Art Program but he has one painting, entitled, "The Stand Up," that he's already turned into the program. In his current work, he works various mediums to include acrylic paint, ink and watercolors.

According to his biography at, Bakal is a 1993 graduate the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Since then, it states he's been creating art for print and exhibition and has earned a master's degree of art from Syracuse University and a master of fine arts degree from the Illustration Program at the University of Hartford, Conn.

Bakal has won numerous awards for his art. According to the biography, in 2010 "he received the Dean Cornwell Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators.

Additionally, Bakal is a teacher of art. "As an educator, his illustration students have won awards in student competitions and he has taught illustration at prestigious schools such as the University of Connecticut and the Fashion Institute of Technology where he resided for five years until 2009 when Massachusetts College of Art and Design brought him into the Illustration Department as a full time teacher," the biography states.

From his trip to Washington, Bakal said he may be able to create up to "six to seven" art pieces for the Air Force Art Program's collection.

"There's a lot of information I gathered from the visit," Bakal said. "What I found from seeing everything is there are a lot of pieces to what the military does. It'll be fun to see what I'll be able to create."

Tom Herzberg:
According to the American Academy of Art in Chicago, Herzberg is an illustrator who has been with the Academy since 2000 where he serves as a teacher. He currently teaches illustration, watercolor painting and life drawing for illustrators and serves as the chair of the Fine Arts Department, according to the Academy's website,

"Mr. Herzberg has completed over 1,600 illustration projects for a variety of books, magazines and newspapers," the website shows. "He has won many awards for his work and is listed in Who's Who and Who's Who in American Art and is an active member of the Air Force Art Program."

Herzberg holds a bachelor's degree in art (printmaking) from Northeastern Illinois University and a master's degree in fine arts in printmaking - also from NIU. "His work has been exhibited in over 50 national and international fine art exhibitions, and he has been a frequent lecturer on art and illustration at schools of all levels."

In the Air Force Art Program, Herzberg has art pieces that go back to 2000, including a painting of a C-9 Nightingale from the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Scott AFB. In 2010 he turned in a piece to the program that highlights the C-4A airlift aircraft of Scott AFB's 932nd Airlift Wing.

Bryan Snuffer:
Doing art for the armed services is nothing new to Snuffer. In addition to supporting the Air Force Art Program, Snuffer has done many art pieces for the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to Snuffer's Facebook page, "Bryan is a realist and specializes in man and machine subject matters." He also "has a long history in military art as well as a newer found love for automobiles and motorcycles."

At the Air Force Art Program website, it shows Snuffer has at least five art pieces donated to the collection. He has art on F-16s, unmanned aerial vehicles and other platforms. In 2010, he completed and turned in pieces highlighting special operations.

For more on the Air Force Art Program, visit the program's website at