From the M*A*S*H Library 15: SwitHeart

What is it?

Swit, Loretta and Mies Hora. SwitHeart: The Watercolour Art & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit. Stony Point, NY: Ultimate Symbol, 2017. (First Edition)

Why should M*A*S*H fans care?

Loretta Swit is an integral part of M*A*S*H, and she used the “star power” she gained from her acting career, along with her talent as an artist, to benefit a cause that she greatly believes in. This book offers a peak behind her stardom and shines a light on her activism.

As a M*A*S*H fan, what part(s) should I read?

All of it! This book offers fun anecdotes about the animals she has met through her activism, and there are a few M*A*S*H references thrown in as well.

TL;DR Review

This beautifully illustrated book highlights Swit’s talent as an artist and her work as an animal rights activist. She has supported a number of organizations for years, and her own organization, SwitHeart Animal Alliance, benefits a number of animal rights non-profits. A second edition of the book is available for purchase directly from Swit.

Full Review

Loretta Swit is probably best known for her role as Major Margaret Houlihan on M*A*S*H, but Swit’s career goes far beyond the eleven season series. She has been in movies and other successful series over the years, but the one constant that has remained in her life is her love of animals. Swit is a watercolor painter, and she has spent years painting the animals in her life and the animals she met as an animals rights and environmental activist. This book, SwitHeart: The Watercolour Art & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit, highlights her original artwork and shares the stories of the animals she has met.

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout, and the artwork is the star of this book. Looking at the table of contents, you can see that there are not many sections, but every spread of pages has a new work of art and story. The artwork and Swit’s short stories are the centerpiece. There is also a section dedicated to photos of her with several animals and a page highlighting her acting career. But her work supporting animals is the focus, and a list of animal rights organizations she works with is listed. And yes M*A*S*H fans, there is a page dedicated to show!

As I mentioned, the artwork is the feature of this book, and it is incredible. Swit has met a wide variety of animals over the years, and she has painted many of them. Wild animals such as a tiger, leopard, and an owl are represented, but the majority are of dogs and cats, including some that Swit has owned. Her paintings capture the animals’ spirit, their playfulness, and in some cases, their sadness. With each painting, Swit has written a short anecdote introducing the reader to the individual animal and expressing the core beliefs of her activism. I love owls, so to illustrate one of Swit’s well written stories, I have chosen to include the following passage that accompanies her painting of an owl:

“I’ve never met an animal I didn’t love…not ever. Owls are special. Comical, curious, aloof, intelligent raptors. I wanted to try and capture that in this ‘up close and personal’ look at Ollie. I use the old expression of ‘give a hoot’ when I ask people to care about our environment and the animals within. Give a hoot about what happens to our wildlife, our forests, to our whales and sharks, to our oceans. Please, give a hoot. Please care.”

-Loretta Swit (page 51)

This book may not be the most M*A*S*H related book in my collection, but it is very enjoyable. The incredible artwork, cute animals, and well written captions just made me smile as I read it. It is a great way to learn about Swit’s activism, explore her artwork, and support a great cause! A second edition of the book is currently available on Swit’s website. When you order, you will receive a signed and personalized copy with the proceeds going to charity. The second edition even includes a new introduction from Mike Farrell, so this is a great addition to fans’ M*A*S*H library and a great way to get something personally signed by Swit.

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