Friday, August 28, 2009

My Art Teacher

Christa Wise and me.
In 1973 I was attending Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois. I took as many art classes as my schedule would allow. I might add that I was a dreadful art student in high school. I can remember to this day the frustration I had as I could conceptualize the projects, but it was just not in me at that time to be able execute very well. When I have looked back at sketchbooks from then I can see why no one had encouraged me much.
Every once in a while a teacher comes along and is able to bring things out in students that might otherwise remain unrealized. Christa Wise is one of those teachers. I can't say that I did any more brilliant work in her class than in other art classes I took, but I did come away from that class with feelings that art no matter how I did it, was still of value... That thought stuck with me as I left high school and moved on through life. I couldn't not do art because it just seems that it is what I do. But the more I did it the better I became.
I would think of my art teacher from time to time and the thought would push me on.  Now that the class of 1974 is having their 35th reunion it is a heavy realization that a few years have passed. The last couple of years I have been teaching art from my studio and again my thoughts went to Mrs. Wise. I remembered the respect she showed to me and her students, no matter what their skill level. I have a similar respect for those that I teach. So, I decided to see if I could locate this person that had shaped  the way I approach art. 
I was more than surprised to find that she was still teaching high school art and living in  Michigan of all places. When I contacted her she said that she was going to be vacationing up in Traverse City. Too strange actually, but as luck would have it we did not actually cross paths at that time. Disappointed I figured that there would be another time as we only live 3 hours away. 
Last weekend I was participating in a plein aire painting event in Saugatuck sponsored by the Water Street Gallery.  Saugatuck is were the Wise's live, so I emailed to say I was going to be in town.
So some 36 years later student and teacher meet again. Aside from catching up a little bit, it was somewhat sweet for both of us as when her and her husband came into the gallery there were red dots on 3 of my paintings. It was a great little reunion.

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