Thursday, May 15, 2008

Art School Daze

Last week, the 1981 graduating class of Columbus College of Art and Design met for a somewhat impromptu reunion. It was inspired by the passing of my former classmate Cindy Baun, who succumbed to cancer last year. When you've been on the planet for only 21 or 22 years, the axiom "life is short" is just a tired cliché. Last week, it seemed like graduation happened oh, maybe ten years ago, but the evidence didn't support this fantasy. Once-girlish faces are now lined, and shaggy, long-haired boys have gone either bald or gray. Life is short, and youth is the briefest part of the whole.

I was a transfer student when I started at CCAD, and had the option of living either in the dorms or in my own apartment. During the admission process, Mom and I went to visit the dorms, and both of us agreed that they were horrid. The girls' dorms were roach-infested, squalid little apartments, in the middle of a dangerous neighborhood. But in those rooms many warm and life-long friendships were forged. The pictures posted on the reunion blog document a lot of fun...and I missed much of it.

Since I can't do those years over, I lived it up to the hilt for three sleep-deprived days. Thanks, former classmates, for being so generous and affectionate to the (former) girl who thought she was too good to live in the dorms. Much love to you all.

I graduated with a number of incredibly talented people, and want to showcase some of their work. I have no rights to the images I've reproduced, so if you wish to have your work removed from this blog, please let me know. Links to artists' websites or reviews are at the end of this post.

Vase, by William Shearrow

If I wanted to illustrate the concept of "Joy," I'd probably use a picture of Bill Shearrow. Bill was a fine arts ceramics major, a breed of artist whom most of the rest of us hardly ever saw. But Bill was too interested in, and people and fun to ever hole himself up in the mudroom for good. Voted "Most likely to start dancing spontaneously." I just made that up. Bill, upon hearing music he likes, just starts dancing. It's a beautiful thing, perhaps as beautiful as this reverse-Raku vase.

Hot Dog, neon sculpture by Michael Flechtner

Mike, who was a few years older than the rest of us, was the RA in the boys' dorm. "Best RA ever" is a quote from a classmate who lived in those dorms in the fall of 1977. Perhaps that's because Mike led all the boys over to the girls' dorm to serenade them in the first week of classes. Apparently, it was a hell of an ice-breaker. Mike was memorable in many ways: he rode a scooter (an anomaly in mid-70's Columbus), owned the first Walkman I had ever seen, and created little "pocket sculptures" from lucite and LED lights, one of which I purchased as an Xmas present for my brother.

After grad school, Mike concentrated his artistic efforts on the once plebeian craft of bending glass neon tubes. His work is an homage to vintage neon signage, as well as the ethnic and cultural gumbo that makes up his now-home city, Los Angeles.

Father's Day Card by Salli Swindell

I remember Salli as being the prettiest girl in our class, which I admit does sound a little condescending. She has a lot more going on than fabulous cheekbones (and she does have fabulous cheekbones), judging from her greeting card designs. I've always favored Great Arrow cards when I had a choice, and Salli's design accumen has probably helped influence many of my purchases. All of Great Arrow's cards are silk-screened as well, which gives them a richness in color and texture not found in more mainstream cards. If you live in Chicago and want to see more of their designs, visit Paper Boy, on Belmont just east of Southport.

There's more art and classmates, which I'll post either tomorrow or on Saturday.

William Shearrow Pottery Link

Michael R. Flechtner Neon Art Link

Salli Swindell Cards at Great Arrow Link

Paperboy and Uncle Fun Link


Beverly said...

It was such a pleasure to hangout with you the day after the reunion.
You have such beautiful energy.

Thankfully I know you in the present, but it would have been groovy to have known you freshman year.


The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

Bev, it was wonderful getting to know you better! I wish I had hung out with you freshman year, too!
I will definitely stay in touch--

Larry said...

Beautiful workmanship in all these items. I have to check out that shop on Belmont.


Anonymous said...

I found your blog yesterday. I disagree with your comments on how "we look now". (CCADER class of 81.) I think the guys all looked like skinny squirts in college, (with Dorthy Hamill haircuts) laking substance and character. I think the men are thicker now, which makes them look better, and the women really are not that wrinkled as stated. But...I have always thought that women and men look great in their 40's. We all have different perspectives.

cindy ross said...

This is a very cool HOMAGE to those artists. Always LOVE reading our perspective on things Elisa... especially the part about how we've changed. It's true, we have all changed on the outside, it's inevitable. I see "someone" didn't agree with you. I think everyone has a right to their own opinion but not if they want to hide behind the anonymous tag. That's too easy.