Coast Guard names John Ward winner of 2020 George Gray Award for Artistic Excellence

WASHINGTON — Artist John Ward has been named the winner of the 2020 George Gray Award for Artistic Excellence, the Coast Guard Art Program’s (COGAP) highest honor. Ward was selected for the award from among 22 artists whose 31 works are on display through August 7, 2020, at COGAP’s annual exhibit at the Salmagundi Club in in New York City.

Ward received the juried award—the equivalent of “Best In Show”—for his acrylic painting “Rescue near Galveston.” The brightly-colored artwork depicts an Air Station Houston helicopter rescuing an oil tanker crewmember during a medical emergency and provides a look inside the helicopter during the event as it took place off the coast of Texas.

Ward has worked as an artist, illustrator and high school art teacher for more than 30 years. His art has been used by more than 60 publications and his work has also been chosen by the U.S. Department of State for its “Art In Embassies” program. His work has been exhibited at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, among other places. Ward teaches and resides in Saranac Lake, New York, where he also has his studio.

“Rescue near Galveston” was selected by a jury featuring Capt. Jason Tama, commander of Sector New York, Salmagundi Club President Elizabeth Spencer and Peter Trippi, art expert and editor-in-chief of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine.

Adm. Karl L. Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, congratulated and thanked Ward for his artistic contribution which he described as “remarkable.” Schultz hailed all the artists of the 2020 collection now on exhibit for their “outstanding works,” noting that because of them, “the Coast Guard has one of the best and most remarkable collections of fine art of any military service.” Schultz added that like the service itself, the Coast Guard Art Program overcame the myriad concerns and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic to perform exceptionally well. COGAP artists—many of whom are professional artists—are volunteers who give freely of their time and talent to the art program.

The current COGAP collection holds more than 2,000 artworks in a variety of media and they are often exhibited at museums around the country and displayed in the offices of members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries and other senior government officials around the world.

This year, COGAP celebrates its 39th year of using art to educate a wide variety of audiences about the Coast Guard’s people and their work to ensure the nation’s security at home and abroad and execute the service’s 11 statutory missions such as search and rescue, protection of marine life, drug interdiction, aids to navigation and more.

To learn more about COGAP, including how to become a member, visit For information on the Salmagundi Club, co-sponsor of the art program since its inception, visit

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