This past Saturday I had the pleasure of interviewing candidates for GHP’s strings program. If my top candidates play as well as they think, Michael Giel will have a very good summer indeed.
At the end of the lunch break, I slipped over to Pebblebrook’s theatre, where art students were undergoing their interviews on the stage. Each student had spread out the requisite number and types of pieces on the stage floor, and the interviewers were walking around quizzing them about their work.
I realized with a small shock that I underwent that same process forty years ago.
Forty years ago.
Forty years ago, I walked into a room with my portfolio, spread it out over a couple of chairs, and was interviewed by two men. I remember not being able to answer one question about the type of drawing one of my pieces was, the answer was “contour drawing”, and I remember that the men were very entertained by my answers in general.
I remember some of the pieces in that portfolio, and I cannot believe that I made it into the Governor’s Honors Program as a visual arts major. I was not that good. However, at the time, all students had to take the Ohio Psychological, essentially an IQ test, and while academic majors had to score at least in the 90th percentile, fine arts majors could get away with the 70th. I scored something like 98, so I’m sure that tipped the balance in my favor.
On the other hand, perhaps my interviewers understood that giftedness is potential, not achievement, and they saw in my work a student who had the potential to achieve, given the training I’d get at GHP. Certainly I hadn’t had it up till that point. Our schools had no art classes; I took lessons out at the Rec Center from Tom Powers (of Powers’ Crossroads fame).
Clearly, though, I would be unable to get into the art major today. Our kids are phenomenal, as you’ll agree if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time and read my posts about the art exhibits each summer. The level of technical expertise and artistic sophistication would put my 16-year-old self, and indeed my 56-year-old self, to shame.
However, as Diane Mize, my painting teacher from the summer of 1970, has reminded me, art instruction in the schools forty years ago sucked. I might have been better prepared, better trained, if Newnan High School had be better able to teach me.
And as she has also reminded me, whether or not I was a good painter I was at heart an artist, one that deserved to go to GHP and who took all that it had to offer and transformed his life with it.
Forty years ago.