My "Start with Art"

What is the germ of a life in the arts? Lots of us love art, love making art, love owning original art, but really very few of us decide that we will choose art-making for our career. Everyone who does has a unique story. Exposure to making art that I can remember started in grade school. Every Friday, we had an art lesson taught by Mr. Wilcox, a small, antiseptic man of about 45, with an Errol Flynn-like moustache, who lived with his mother in a house with a big wrap-around porch catty-cornered from the Catholic Church. He also had a small, antiseptic voice. Mr. Wilcox would come bursting into our classroom, tape the example of the art that we would all make to the blackboard and begin passing out materials. I always loved the class in spite of the big obstacles I had to overcome. First, my last name was Zollman, so I sat in the last seat in the last row of the class of about 30 kids. Second, I was near-sighted, but nobody had discovered that yet, and I certainly did not know. I thought everybody couldn't see the blackboard very well. Third, I was left-handed.

Art lessons were taught step by step and the object was to make a picture that looked like the teacher's picture. Somehow, I could end up doing that. It was a lesson in following directions, not why we were making art. But at that point, I didn't question it. I just loved making things. We all cut at the same time and we all pasted at the same time. Imagine, if you will, me sitting in the back of the room, squinting at the black board, poised with my (of course, right-handed) scissors in my left hand on the bottom of the right corner of our project nearly standing on my head waiting to be given the signal to "cut". How can I ever forget one of Mr. Wilcox's famous lines--"Now tell me in a whisper, where do we start?" as he cuffed his hand behind his ear and a classroom of 30 fourth graders all together whispered back, "At the fold!" Oh, it was thrilling to be making art!

Here is one of my grade school art projects that is still hanging around every holiday.


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