“The sun has gone
A long time ago
We’re waiting for the dawn
That will never show
Our hearts are getting hard
Souls covered by scars
We are made of stars
But we are lost in wars”
— Battle Beast, Lost in Wars
2nd LT John Robert Holt, Jr (1978-2009) was a graduate of Luther Burbank High School in San Antonio, Texas and the University of Texas – San Antonio. He served as a US Army combat medic in Iraq, and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
In the short video documentary, Vincent Valdez: Excerpts for John, produced by filmmakers, Mark and Angela Walley, Vincent tells the story of his friendship with John Holt while he works to create a memorial to John and all the soldiers ‘lost in the fog of war’.
San Antonio native, Vincent Valdez, is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, and a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Painters and Sculptors. He focuses his creative work on cultural and historical themes with contemporary portrayals of human struggle, loss, sacrifice, war and injustice. In recognition of excellence in the arts, Valdez was designated a ‘Texas State Artist’ in 2015 by the Texas State Legislature. Exhibitions and collections include: Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Ford Foundation, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The National Portrait Gallery, Blanton Museum of Art, Parsons Paris, Bullock Texas State History Museum, OSDE Buenos Aires, the McNay Art Museum and Southwest School of Art. [Vincent Valdez website →here]
John, oil-on-canvas by Vincent Valdez, 2010-2012. It’s an intimate portrait of Vincent’s friend “in the midst of battle, an explosion and billowing smoke behind him, his eyes focused on an ominous sight that is invisible to the viewer and that anticipates John’s demise.” (Taina Caragol, co-curator, The Face of Battle: Americans at War)
Excerpts for John (2012) depicts the unfolding sequence of events and emotions Vincent Valdez experienced during his friend’s military funeral in a series of paintings created as an homage to Lieutenant Holt and “a eulogy for those who can’t find their way home”.
After more than a decade of war in the Middle East, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become a critical health concern among American war veterans as the number seeking help for PTSD has dramatically increased and the number of suicides exceeded 6,000 each year during the years 2008-17.*
Soldiers of Conscience, Q&A What is PTSD & how to get help, PBS (October 2008)
National Center for PTSD: US Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Families United: PTSD healing resources and helpful reference materials for veterans & families
*2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report
Artists reveal thoughts and feelings about their work
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Feature photo is a screen shot taken from the video, Vincent Valdez: Excerpts for John, produced by Walley Films