2005-06-09 / Front Page

Artist has another brush with fame

Mentored by Rockwell, Joseph Csatari receives scouting

Staff Writer

Joseph Csatari
Joseph Csatari SOUTH RIVER — One local artist is following in his mentor’s brush strokes.

Last week, Joseph Csatari, of Snapper Avenue, was awarded the Silver Buffalo by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) at the National Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. Considered scouting’s highest commendation for service to youth, the Silver Buffalo has been awarded annually since 1925.

Included in the award’s fraternity of recipients are baseball player and media personality Yogi Berra; Charles Lindbergh, who made the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean; and legendary artist Norman Rockwell, who was Csatari’s mentor for eight years.

“It really is nice,” Csatari, 76, said. “I really don’t know why I got it though. I’m just doing what I like to do.”

A graduate of the Academy of Arts in Newark, Csatari later attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition to taking over for Rockwell as the official BSA artist in 1977, he was its art director for advertising for 22 years. He has been an assistant scoutmaster in the BSA’s Central New Jersey Council and is the recipient of numerous awards for his service.

The artist’s achievements outside of scouting are equally as vast. He has produced work for the Saturday Evening Post, Boys’ Life and McCall’s magazines, has had two of his paintings become U.S. commemorative postage stamps and has produced a number of book illustrations and portraits, among other accomplishments.

Recently, Csatari completed a painting honoring the heroes of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Among the firefighters and police officers represented in the painting are also the Boy Scouts from all over the country who were sending equipment to those at ground zero as well as notes thanking them for their tireless service.

Though he’s produced art for many walks of life, Csatari said the art he produces for the BSA always centers around the oaths and laws of scouting, which he said build character and teach values to youth.

According to the BSA, nearly 4.1 million young people between 7 and 20 years of age, with more than 300 councils throughout the United States and its territories, are served by the Boy Scouts of America.

“[Children] are taught the right values,” he said of the BSA. “It’s one of the most important organizations in the country.”

The lifelong South River resident and married father of three said he is still influenced by Rockwell’s work.

“He was a great story teller,” Csatari said. “He was an illustrator’s Mark Twain.”

“And now I’m continuing his commission. I’m trying to tell the story of scouting in my own way,” he added.

Every year, art students from South River High School are invited to Csatari’s studio to learn more about art and its importance in life.

“I can’t see the world without art, music or literature,” he said. “An artist is like an actor or journalist. We try to record events that we see in a way to make the world better than when we found it.”

A painter his whole life, Csatari said if he hadn’t become an artist, he would have at least been involved in some other creative field.

But for now, Csatari isn’t about to put away his paint brushes and continues to use them to weave new worlds within the canvas.

“I love painting. I love to tell a story in paint,” he said. “The main purpose is to tell a story.”

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