The internet can be a magical place of connection. I feel so fortunate to have so many teachers who saw something in me that I did not and they nurtured, encouraged me to be better than I thought I could be. One person can make a difference in student's lives as seen below in the testimonials.
Rick Smith from the San Angelo Standard Times connected with me Thursday after he found something on my blog I had written about Otis Lumpkin and ask me to write something about him as a teacher. Otis is having his last art show in San Angelo tonight. I really wish I could be there to take it all in! Here is Rick's piece about the art exhibit in San Angelo: A master of canvas and guidance.
This was my submission:
I don’t know where to begin when remembering Otis Lumpkin, my art teacher at Angelo State University in the late 1970’s. I know one thing to be true; he is the reason I graduated from ASU through his constant lecturing me on the virtues on closing a door and moving towards another, more exciting door called LIFE. Encouraging me daily to look past the student poverty I was living in at the moment, push myself to reach my artistic potential. Commit myself! Finish projects! Come to class! Be an artist! Admittedly, I wasn’t his best student when it came to attendance. He would greet me by saying “glad you could join us today, Ms. Carney”.
When you have professors who inspire you through their humor, talent, knowledge, passion and of course, incredible artwork … it makes going to class everyday a treat, not a chore. Aspiring to be a producing artist as Otis was. I was fortunate to have had so many professors who made learning a joy. Otis is on the top of that list.
In a smaller, student art community, many of us were also friends with Otis, his wonderful wife, JoAnne and his family. He made all of his students feel like they were a part of his family. Advising us as if we were his children when we needed direction. He wasn’t just a professor, he was a magic wand guiding us to make sound decisions about our lives.
I have stayed in touch with Otis and his family since graduating. I feel lucky and privileged to call him a mentor and friend for all of these years.
This was Ben Garrison's memory of Otis:
An artist colleague of mine recently saw Mr. Lumpkin's paintings on the internet. I had sent him a link. He replied, "Ben, you sure were lucky to have an art professor as talented as him!" Yes, I was lucky. I was even more fortunate to have had a teacher with great kindness, patience, humor and keen insight. His thoughtful advice was always on target and encouraging. In my spare time I still paint--using sound methods I learned from him.
I landed an editorial artist job at the San Angelo Standard-Times more than three decades ago. The key was Mr. Lumpkin's recommendation. That job led to a career as a graphic artist. I can't remember if I ever thanked him for that -- and for all those wonderful classes that still resonate in my brain. So Mr. Lumpkin, if you're reading this, "Thank you."
And Faith Ray's paragraph of how Otis changed her life as an artist:
I would like to put my impressions of Otis Lumpkin into a perspective befitting West Texas. San Angelo Texas is a quiet little desert town; not much going on in the 70's, especially for a group of misfit art students who could barely tie their own shoes. Our exposure to art consisted of tacky avant-garde posters and some poorly reproduced pictures of skinny, big-eyed models. Otis Lumpkin graciously overlooked our artistic illiteracy and went to work on each of us. He trained our eyes and our hands to see and capture the sublime and odd; to defy convention and dig deeper. He mentored, fathered, loved and patiently brought us all along. In the midst of a crazy conservative university, Otis was a classically trained, brilliant artist and gentleman, with stories and wisdom that still sing in my heart 31 years later. I cannot remember my first art museum or my first works, but I do remember his exquisite laughter, his keen eye, and hour after hour sitting in his office hearing tales of his life and exploits. He gave me so much out of the grace of his wide open heart. The world would simply not be the same without my friend and mentor, Otis Lumpkin.