I was raised completely lacking in all aspects of art education. The only art
class I ever had was in junior high; the teacher looked like "Mimi" from the Drew
Carey Show and had the personality to match. She said I had no talent for art and
gave me a "C" for the class. Being the youth that I was, I accepted her judgement
without question and focused my attentions on the maths and sciences instead. Of
what use is art anyways?
I met Wayne's youngest daughter, Beth, while I was in my mid-twenties. She caught my curiosity right off.
She was an artist. And I had never really found a satisfactory answer to my
junior high question, and had added a few more as I grew older. Of what use is
art? And why would someone choose to become an artist? I had no educated eyes of
my own to be able to appreciate art, but Beth was kind enough to lend me hers.
She went with me to Brother Thomas' pottery show, and explained to me about the
techniques that were used to create each piece, and about the ecstasy that the
artist felt with each successful firing, and the frustration and disappointment
that accompanied each failure. I took a more appreciative look at each piece of
pottery displayed in that gallery.
I met Wayne soon after I met Beth. But it was several years before Wayne invited
me to visit his studio and see his paintings. Wayne asked me if I knew much about
art. "I know what I like," I responded. Wayne grimaced at my comment, but said
nothing as he gave me a tour of his studio. Apparently that's what everybody says
when they lack an art education. Well, I admit, Wayne's paintings were the first
paintings I had ever seen that were done by a real artist other than Beth. But I
appreciated what I saw. And I could tell him what I liked; perhaps the rush of
the water as it crashed over the rocks, perhaps the way the painting first drew
my attention to one object, then led my eyes on a path throughout the painting,
only to wind up back at the object that first caught my attention. I liked that.
It was as though I was being told a story in a language that I didn't quite
understand. And I wanted to understand. After visiting Wayne's studio, I made a
point of going to museums more often, taking Beth along with me to act as my interpreter.
Eventually, Beth and I had a chance to visit Washington, DC. Like many tourists,
the Smithsonian was definitely on our itinerary as was the National Zoo. But the
most memorable day of that trip was the day Wayne came with us to the city to see
some of the other museums in DC. We visited the Museum of American Art,
the National Gallery and
the Renwick Gallery. The last stop of the day was the Phillips Gallery, Wayne's
personal favorite. An abstract artist was having an exhibition there at the time,
and Wayne paused before each painting to evaluate the man's work. I tried to be
appreciative, but all I could see of the man's work was an overwhelming use of
the color beige, and I lost interest very quickly. I left Wayne to roam the rest
of the gallery, and eventually made my way upstairs. And there I discovered the
most beautiful paintings I had ever seen in my life. One of the paintings was
just gigantic, it took up nearly the whole wall. And I stared at the scene that
the artist had painted for me; no, I was drawn into the scene, the table and the
people, the elegance and manners, the way the woman leaned over the table to pour
the tea. "Wow," I thought, "That guy's really good." After a few moments of staring
into the painting, getting lost within its story, I checked the placard to see who
had painted it. Renoir. "Holy cow!" I looked at some of the other paintings in the
room. Picasso. Van Gogh. There was an entire collection of masters all in one room.
I was surrounded by some of the greatest painters ever known. And they all had
stories to tell me; they all had captured a piece of life in some way, and explained
it to me in a way that I could understand.
Works of art, they are like scenes in the book of an artist's life; diary entries
that mark the things that he's seen, the places that he's been, the successes and
failures, the joys and disappointments, the real and the surreal. If I had a wish
for those artists who have touched my heart, it would be to give them wings so they could
fly. And I tried to reflect that wish in this website's design.
Thanks, Wayne, for being a part of my art education.
To learn more about me, you can visit my homepage at