By James Barron
You never know what students will learn on a field trip. A couple of years ago, students from the Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School, an alternative high school on West 102nd Street, went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. The guides said that Rockwell’s birthplace was on West 103rd Street...The next stop was the City Council’s Parks Committee. Fortunately for the students, the chairman of that committee, Councilman Mark Levine, represents the neighborhood.
“My first reaction was, Norman Rockwell’s from New York City?” he recalled, adding that the students had changed his perception of Rockwell.
“You really understand Rockwell’s work in a whole new way when you realize he grew up on the West Side,” Mr. Levine said. “He formed a view of the world that can be traced right back to 103rd Street. You’ve got to imagine he was struck by the great disparities of wealth in New York City even then, and that awareness stuck with him through his career. You can see it in subtle but important ways in so much of his work.”