PART ONE – Higher Education Pre CSUMB
I’ve been painting my whole life. I never doubted I would go to college and there was never a doubt about what I would study. That’s more than many people get. Clarity can be essentially to moving forward with big decisions, but nothing can be that clear. My education was strange and a bit longer than most. In order to make my schedule work and to keep my GPA up I ended up withdrawling out of a few required classes that were flat out unfocused or just too basic. There were also the extra courses I took in biological sciences that I took just to learn from. All of this was what made it take 7 years for me to get my BA, though in reality I probably have taken more away from my major than most who have a basic master’s degree. I suppose I’ve planned on getting my MFA at some point, but until recently I had no obvious sense of what I would want to propose for a MFA project.
I attended 5 different colleges. Three of them were junior colleges and the last two were California State Universities. When I transferred into the State system I was reluctant to take it very seriously. I was attending Fresno State University and the Art department had some fatal flaws in comparison to its football program. With so many students in a life drawing class that the few minutes I had to get from one class to that class always left me with a broken easle and nowhere to get my perspective on. The other studio class weirdness was that the materials list was less advanced than what the city college had where I had been painting for a couple years. Nevertheless, it was the theory and contemporary art history classes taught by Charles Gaines that made me leave FSU for the newset State University at that time. I learned so much from Mr Gains that I still go back through his readers and find myself recounting things from his classes. The odd part was finding out that he had been given the prestigious position of Dean of Fine Arts at Cal Arts and he stayed on to teach at Fresno State probably for tenure or retirement issues. I also later found out that I had gone to school with his son – I didn’t really know him, but it made things make sense. What was sad was that at Cal Arts the courses he taught were full in the first ten minutes of registration. He taught these same courses at Fresno State, but the students were by and large opposed to them. Too much thought and emphasis on philosophy and psychology. To me, Charles Gains was giving us the answers to the big secrets in some strange codex of artists and their works. He also extended references to some very intense conceptual framework which for most students probably threatened the nice little bubbles that they had operated in. So in the end it was more of the fact that his two courses in my list of required classes were over with and I felt like there was nothing left but a downhill putter to graduation. One thing I learned was that whatever is new in art is probably where you want to be, so upon hearing that the closest shot to the ocean from where I was had converted the former fort ord into a University that offered 4 majors, art being one of them, I took a chance and went there with my wife who at the time was just transferring to the state system.
To be continued.