KCAI Alumni Blog

Just another KCAI Blogs weblog


Memories from Kimberly Chiaris (’84 photography)

@ April 14, 2010

What professor or course most affected your work and why?

Reed Estabrook. He brought fresh contemporary thought to the department. He introduced and brought in guest artists so we could see and interact with art and artists that were relevant at that time. It was life transforming for me.

Which course was the most challenging and why?

George Burris taught a class called Bioethics. We tackled subjects about Abortion and Euthanasia. He didn’t care what side of the fence we were on as long as we argued a point with research,facts and logic. He was truely interested in the learning and thinking process unlike so many classes that emphasized memorization of facts. We recently ran into him at our daughter’s college. He was teaching classes there. He actually remembered us.

Which classmates were your best friends and how have you kept in touch since college?

Scott and Mollie (Walker) Freeman. We live 2 blocks from each other in Loveland, Colorado. We once lived together for 6 months in our small 3 bedroom house with their 5 children and our 3. 12 people getting to know each other very well and we’re still great friends!

Kevin and Sarah (Engler) Berger are good friends. Hugh DeWitte. Chuck and Jill Downen.  All of the above mentioned people lived together with the exception of Sarah and Jill in a house as students on Warwick and 44th.

What was your favorite hang-out on campus?

Under the Ginko tree of course. I also loved the painting building because if the smell and because I loved painting and drawing.

Did you marry your college sweetheart? Who is he or she and how did you meet?

Yes! Micheal Butts. We’ve been married 26 years and have three children. All are persuing art of some sort. Micaela, 20yrs. old is a Fine Art Photography major, Karissa, 18, is about to study Commercial Music and Industry with Vocal and Recording Arts emphasis and Elijah, 16, is also musical and plays electric guitar in a Screemo band. He may study commercial music or skip that and become famous.

What was your funniest or most fun on-campus experience?

I loved the dances because the bands that played were amazing.Ida McBeth and Sunra were my favorite. Mike and I had our first date at an April Fools Ball with the band BCR Black Crack Review  (off campus). We met as a group of students went to eat pizza during the first week of school and started driving to church together (along with Hugh DeWitte.We were friends for 2 years before we started dating.

What is your most outrageous memory of the Beaux Arts Ball?

Loved the drive in movies. Not outrageous but fun. Dancing and staying up all night was a blast .Looked forward to it every year.

Other special memory:

Hanging with my housemates at our house we called the Hammer Club.

I loved having free access to the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

I loved sitting at Haagen Daz (before coffee houses were the rage) and watching the people down in Westport.

I also loved the Jazz fest on the lawn of the Nelson.


Memories from Shana Packman (’99 photography)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :

fun, frivolous, fast.

The hardest lesson:

The hardest lesson I learned at KCAI is one I still learn every day, twice a

month, to be exact, when I submit my student loan payments to Sallie May.

More accurately, it should be “payment,” as the federal portion of my loans is in forbearance, and racking up interest by the minute.  The hardest lesson was and is that the cost of education at a private art institution is not worth the lifetime of debt you receive in exchange for the 4 years of fun you may have had.

I went through KCAI in the mid-late nineties, when the campus was not wired for internet, and there was little instruction in computer use.  As a result, after graduating I enrolled in a tech program for graphic design. Recently, the publishing industry has taken a hit, so I’ve been unemployed for nearly a year. Out of desperation, I’ve taken on work in floral design where I make

$12 per hour.  Imagine paying off a five-figure debt left over from TEN years ago on that salary… It’s amazing I manage to get out of bed in the morning.

One last note: my dear father, nearing 70 and sick with cancer, recently asked a Sallie Mae rep what would happen if he died before paying off his portion of the parent loans he financed in order to send me to school.  “If you die, the loan is forgiven,” the rep told him.  He and I had a good laugh at that:  what better incentive has there ever been for dying?


Memories from Suzanne Pointon (’69 painting/printmaking)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why):

Vision,Growth,Enjoyment

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

My Junior year we had a painting Instructor from New York. His name was Howard Rogovan h allowed me to try all kinds of Medias he was opened my minded and taught me vision and  use the unlimited source I had.

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:

The most important thing Howard Rogovan said to me was”You can either be a Recorder or a Creator.” “To create something from nothing is truley a gift”. He also encouraged me to go to Parsons School of Design in New York and helped me build a Portfolio to recieve a Scholarship. I wish I knew where he was. I would Thank him for his Guidance and beleving in me. My entire Career has been in the Garment Industry which has given me a Great Life.

The best class or project you ever participated in:

One of my other Favorite Instructors was Wilbur Newald the class project was to use a Low Key Palett.It was challenging but opened my eyes to the beauty of all colors.

The course was the most challenging and why:

Scientific Thought gave me a headache even thought some of the philosophers had some points.I would rather be studying Art History.

One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:

The Art of Aesthetics or

The Art of the Good and the Beautiful and Close your eyes and see.

Thank you KCAI for one of the best experience of my life.

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:

Janey Chadwick still close after all the years.

Richard Hollander recently reacquainted

Your college sweetheart: John Jackson

Favorite hang-out on-campus:

Well I think it’s part of the campus. The Nelson Art Gallery, I could hide in there.

The craziest thing you did while at KCAI:

I learned to drink and spent a lot of time holding onto the toilet in the Dorm. One time, that’s all it took

The funniest experience at KCAI :

Seeing Richard Hollander get his scarf caught in a Disk Grinder in the Sculpture Garden yelling for help. He didn’t get hurt but it was funny at the time. Well maybe I am warped.

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an artist/designer:

When I got accepted to Parsons School of Design on a full Scholarship and then winning the Norman Norell Scholarship for Fashion Design.

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:

Getting the Class picture taken on the Steps of Vanderslice in our Caps and Gowns. I still have that photo.

The hardest lesson:

Leaving KCAI not knowing what was ahead in the BIG World. Knowing it was all apart of growing.

Other special memories:

I am grateful for my time at KCAI, I loved it.


Memories from Penelope Nicolopolis – Weiland (’77 painting & printmaking)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why):

Probing, Revelatory, Stark

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

1972 • Foundations • All Instructors but, most notably: Steven Whitaker & Richard Mattson • Thought Provoking & Eloquent • Also: encountering the infamous Paulo Solari • a small, dark man in the midst of overly painted white walls … a man who spoke about the social fabric of a future many, many years ahead, in the making … Arcosanti? whispering on the arid plains of the Southwest where I now make my own home … Mysterious Man …

Mysterious Southwestern part of the USA.

1973 • Stanley Lewis • Exciting, Motivating then, Irritating … I moved on • Michael Walling • Observant, Watching his words carefully – then, speaking in slow, vague statements … it was up to me to determine the message … somewhat enlightening, somewhat disappointing … In 1983, I discovered that Michael was/is a very good painter. He earned my respect & we were able to converse in a much more honest way. I’m glad that we got to this moment in Time.

1974 & 1975 • Warren Rosser • Attractive Foreigner • Good Listener • Startling Commentary • Lover of Art & Life. – Also: Wilbur Niewald • Talk, Talk, Talk • Kind & Devoted • Passionate • Elusive – Also: Lester Goldman • Technique, Technique, Technique … the only one who bothered teaching it! I relished in it! I needed structure & knowledge … growing tired of painting philosophy. The philosophy – my Own – was already in my Head!

1976 • Richard Mattson – again … another Honest Connection, Finally! with a male Instructor who is Looking & Asking Why? I felt flattered. He wasn’t patronizing or being charitible • An amusing Story Teller • loved listening to him roll his words out like ribbon off a spool.

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:

Michael Walling: “Your Work is Perverse …” Yes, I know Michael My Work rejects following my Instructors’ working styles in order to discover who I am not! I work on my own. I don’t/didn’t need to follow anyone. I only observed Other’s works & words, then, went My Own Way. Hey! Where were the women Painting Instructors anyway? I didn’t have an instructor to follow because I didn’t have an instructor whom I felt respected me. I was not an easy student.

The best class or project you ever participated in:

My Senior Year: Lester Goldman’s Painting Class & Printmaking Classes from an Instructor, who’s name escapes me at the moment.

The course was the most challenging and why:

All Classes seemed to be challenging. But, what was most challenging other than the classes/schedules: was the fact that there were no full time female instructors while I attended KCAI. Male Instructors just couldn’t relate to me in an honest, serious & meaningful way. After my Junior year I became so frustrated with the lack of connection between my male instructors & myself & my work; that I left Missouri & moved to Northern California. I spent several months there – just working & living & making artwork in my spare time. I felt bitter about art school. But, I returned to finish my degree & I was glad that I did this. KCAI will always be dear to my heart in spite of my disappointments & frustrations. I understand that I was just living in a time when women were not represented in art schools across the nation as well as in art history & in the galleries, as a whole. Sadly, this fact still rings true. But, times have changed. Our presence has grown and younger female students are reaping the benefits. But, I have to wonder how I would have fared if I had had a female painter/instructor in my midst while I was going to school … so young & impressionable … Yes! in the tune of: Lee Bontecou, Jennifer Bartlett, Alice Neel or Dorthea Tanning? How unfortunate!!! & how much I would have loved & benefited from such an experience!!!

One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:

Nothing much from KCAI guides my career other than: I was able to develop my vision & my craft & I still have all of this development within my reach. I was given or awarded the time to really reach into myself – for nearly 5 years – and do this for myself … before I went out into the world to develop a career that replicates a wandering river that goes for many miles & miles.

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:

I haven’t kept in touch with KCAI classmates and I hardly remember proper names anymore which saddens me. But, I have lots of photographs. I used to check out a camera from the photography department & go around & document my classmates usually during Beaux Arts. I had many favorite people to document, learn from & enjoy, in my midst … many fond memories. We were so young & we were discovering ourselves & our art. We were extraordinary &beautiful- even within the midst of our frailties. I would love to re-connect with whomever is receptive. Now if I could just rightfully remember some names?! I’ll say that the KCAI Alumni Directory has certainly helped me to jog some cognition.

I’m glad I bought a copy. Now, I guess I need to motivate myself to actually make an effort to contact – no excuses, huh?

Your college sweetheart:

Hmmm … I’m not saying. Lots of nice looking & interesting & talented individuals come to mind … I’m not inferring that they were All My Sweethearts! But, R.E. comes to mind … a very talented, intense & searching individual who I would love to talk to again. Our communication should be vastly improved by now … But?

Favorite hang-out on-campus:

The Printmaking Department. I spent more hours there than the Painting Department. It felt more relaxed & stimulating. This place may have felt this way to me because it was just one big room where many people could work …

it was more communal than the small, cramp spaces of the Painting department.

I also loved the dark rooms of the Photography Department. I didn’t take any classes in this department, I just liked to photograph & make prints there. I loved the quiet darkness & the magical proceedure of making an image from film transform onto paper. So, why did I major in painting? It wasn’t just the smell of oil paint & pastel crayons that enticed me! It’s all image making … making images from life & from the mind. Perhaps it doesn’t even matter what medium we choose. It’s all relevant & necessary & at hand.

My favorite place off campus: The Nelson Art Gallery, Of Course!!!

The craziest thing you did while at KCAI:

I climbed on top of the roof of Vanderslice with a fellow student that I didn’t know during a Beaux Arts Event. I got up to the roof by climbing up the stone facade! It was the other student’s idea. I immediately thought that it was a good idea & I couldn’t believe that I did it so effortlessly. That’s until I had to return to the ground! It must have been the alcohol! I loved the New Perspective. The stranger & I had a delightful conversation & we enjoyed sharing the vantage point. I Don’t Know why I did this! I have a fear of heights! Perhaps, I wanted to compete physically with my male counterpart?

But, while I/we was/were up on this roof, I had time to admire the antiquity & the architecture of this strange, old building called Vanderslice & ponder it’s unknown history. I also enjoyed getting a birds eye view of the campus below & witness the comings & goings of other people – especially the ones looking for me. It was so strange. When I mastered my way back to the ground, I discovered that noone had seen my ascend/descend. That makes me wonder: Who was that climbing mate anyway. I don’t believe that I ever saw him again.

The funniest experience at KCAI :

Funniest experience doesn’t come to mind … lots of drama, though

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an artist/designer:

I knew that I was an artist years before I attended KCAI. I spent my pre-art school years scouring the art filled floors of the Nelson Art Gallery. I took art classes wherever I could find them. But, I also just did artwork on my own. No need for constant instruction. What I saw around me was captivating & inspired me to respond it, in some way. I just found my way to KCAI & it was a dream come true when I discovered that I had been accepted for attendance for 4 whole years. What an unbelievable Contract?! I didn’t have the privilege of receiving financial assistance from my parents. So, I had to apply for financial aid/loans from the government. Both acceptance & assistance fell into my lap & I was a very happy person at that moment.

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:

I walked into the Vanderslice building with a portfolio containing artwork from my highschool art classes. It also contained artwork which I had done on my own. I sat down before  Steven Whitaker & showed him what I had brought.

It was a dark, overcast day in the dreadful month of December – I think? We were in the large room which faces the campus interior & this room seemed so dark & cold & not very welcoming. I was very nervous but, hopeful. I remember thinking to myself: this may not turn out so good the way that things appear.

But, before my interview with Steven was over, I knew that I was going to be accepted into attending KCAI & I that I was on a cusp of a bright future. I just knew it! & Steven’s words to me, just seemed to confirm it!

The hardest lesson:

Finding my way through my work and not having a clear path as to where I was going. I really wish that I would have received better direction or had a better notion of how to attain a Good Direction for myself. Mentoring is important .. especially when you’re young. Like I said, there wasn’t any strong, female representation when I was attending KCAI. I believe that this would have made a big difference in my experiences & in my decision making.  I’m so glad to recognize that female representation has greatly increased at KCAI, in this respect. I know that current young women students are getting more out of their education because of this fact. Thankfully, times have changed & KCAI has chosen to be part of this change.


Memories from Catherine Massaro (’79 painting/printmaking)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :

“enlightening” (every day was like Christmas) “inclusive” (I finally fit in

somewhere) “life-altering”( no longer adrift in the world, I knew how to proceed

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

Wilbur Niewald- like so many others, I can’t ever thank him enough for teaching me how to look, how to see, and discilpine.

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:

He may not remember it, but Ron Slowinski said ( in a figure drawing class) “just because you put a mark down, doesn’t mean it has to stay there.” He taught me to draw with an eraser in one hand and a pencil in the other. I love my pink pearl to this day.It helped me keep my work open,fresh,and alive.

The best class or project you ever participated in:

I adored stone lithography. Still dream about it. Still miss all those fabulous stones.

The course was the most challenging and why:

Wilbur’s still life painting class.Here he comes with that blue paint brush…argg!

One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:

Art has a valuable place in our life

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:

Sue Ellen Schneider, Jeff Odell, Tom Coffin Sue and I remain very close firends, I talk to her often, SKYPE, cards, and recently collaborated on some jewelry design. Christmas cards from Jeff occassionally, and sadly lost track of Tom, but met his brother in New Mexico when I lived there.

Your college sweetheart:

got married while I was in school, but he was not a student there.

Favorite hang-out on-campus:

the lawn in front of the cafeteria,the couches in front of Wilbur’s painting studio

The craziest thing you did while at KCAI:

Got married. not only was it crazy, it was an enormous mistake.

The funniest experience at KCAI :

any and every interaction with Bill Shipman.

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an artist/designer:

I always knew I was an artist, I just had trouble finding my place in the world.

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:

Graduation Day. I hated leaving. I wish I could have stayed a student forever. If only there had been a masters program.

The hardest lesson:

Once you are out the door, you are on your own. Jobs? Figure it out yourself.

Other special memories:

Pam Hoelzel was so , so, kind to me. I will never forget her gentle guidance and advice.

Painting from old masters at the Nelson Gallery.

It was the best time of my young life.


Memories from Edward W. Schmidt (’43 painting)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :

Educational, enjoyable, busy

Taking a painting class under Mr. Fletcher Martin in the Fall of 1942. My friend convinced me to take this class in lieu of my chosen major—Advertising. We were both headed for WW II service, and thought it would be interesting—indeed it was! Fletch was commissioned by Life magazine to do on the site war paintings for them. He left KCAI just after my friend and I were called to service in February of 1943. Upon our parting from KCAI, Fletch gave me his signed lithograph “Trouble in Frisco,” which I still have. Fletch was well adapted to the rigors of combat, having been a lumberjack in our Northwest, a champion boxer in the peacetime Navy, etc. His paintings for Life magazine include their December 27, 1943 edition, with cover by Fletcher, which I have. Fletch did war paintings for Life in both the Aftrican and European theaters of WW II.

Other special memories:

Lois and I have been married 61 years (married at Unity Village Chapel, K.C. in August 1948). I am 85 years old and Lois is 83. We are fortunate to still be living in our home, and having our son and grandchildren living here in Springfield. We have enjoyed retirement (I had a career in architecture), am a railroad buff and enjoy staying active in drawing and painting.


Memories from Tom Vincent (’51 painting)

@

Other special memories:

Joyce Owens (Vincent), my wife for 57 years, and I went 4 years to KCAI on Hallmark Scholarships. I also won the alumni scholarship. We met at the age of 9 on a scholarship for children in the basement class at KCAI and continued on scholarships all the way to and through KCAI.

Joyce worked as one of the top fashion illustrators in New York City from 1954 to 1990, retired and painted beautiful “Art Deco” paintings. Featured in shows all over New York City and area.

I—Tom Vincent—painted stage scenery for many years. Starting at the Star Light Theatre in Kansas City, moving to New York City and painting approximately 300 sets for Broadway, opera, ballet and T.V. all while producing my own paintings. Showing all over the U.S. and Europe (my work is in a number of Museums) and a ½ hour movie and T.V. special were made featuring my work.

In addition I’ve spent time teaching and I now have my own art school: “Vincent School of Art” started in 1995, now located in Schuylerville, NY.


Memories from Rita Blitt (’55 painting)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why):

inspiring, thrilling, fortunate

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

When I was 10 years old, and again at age 11, I won a scholarship for Saturday classes at the Kansas City Art Institute and Miss Polk, my KCAI teacher, invited me to her home to encourage my creativity.  These KCAI childhood experiences filled me with the courage to say to myself-”Someday, I will become an artist.”

Many years later, I returned to the KCAI for a painting class.  My painting instructor, Wilbur Niewald, became a very important influence on my work and life.  Wil continuously talked about “the relationship of shapes.”  I believe I “got it” on some level, but I wondered exactly what he was taking about until one day, when driving down the street, I became very excited by the sight of junk in the truck ahead of me.  I saw a shovel, a broom and other assorted objects relating to one another as shapes in a composition.  I was amazed at my joy in this sight.  I suddenly had learned to see the world as art. Thank you, Wil.


Memories from James Henry Kester (’72 painting)

@

I was at a party a number of years after graduating and ran into Richard Mattson and he said to me how wonderful it was to see a former student involved in the arts. I replied that I thought he must be confusing me with another student because I worked (at the time) at Macy’s in visual merchandising and store planning (and one very short stint as fashion coordinator for the Midwest division) and thus, that by any stretch of my imagination involved in the arts. He returned with the message of “well that’s creative. Do you realize how many of your colleagues and fellow students ended up being salesmen?” It put a whole new slant on things, I wouldn’t say that it made my 5 years in retail any more enjoyable ( I think I can safetly say that I hated retail although there were some fun moments, too-for example going to an annual Xmas market in N.Y.C. or San Francisco). In retrospect, I must say I was amazed that he remembered me at all.


Memories from Paul Pawlaczyk (’72 painting)

@

Give us three words you would use to describe your time at the Art Institute (and why) :

  • Exciting – I’d never before, even at the Art Institute of Boston, experienced the feeling of being in an art community before KCAI…or since.
  • Rewarding – My instructors treated me like my ideas were worthwhile,, like I had value as an artist.
  • Inspiring – Being with so many others of like mind gave me strength then to continue in the arts and that continues till this day, 37 years later. Whew! Did I just write 37 years?!

The professor or course that most affected your work (and why):

Ron Slowinski gave me professionally and personally more than any other person I have ever known.

The most important thing a faculty member ever said to you and under what circumstances it was said:

“Look at this! Look at this here” – Ron Slowinski giving the class a lively and adventurous trip through the Nelson.

The best class or project you ever participated in:

My first studio session with Richard Pitts as instructor when he let me set up in a corner and paint what I’d already been painting for years instead of forcing me to work on a still life with the rest.

The course was the most challenging and why:

Art History – I’m lousy with dates.

One lesson that you learned at KCAI that still guides your career:

Accept that you need to create no matter what.

Tell us which classmates were your best friends and how you’ve kept in touch since college:

Joe Oswalt was my friend all through my time at KCAI and for years after. Unfortunately, we’ve lost touch. I also enjoyed the company of Terry Karson and thought his work exceptional – he and “Moon” Mullins. I’ve touched base with those two over the years…but let’s face it…guys are guys. They usually don’t go out of their way to stay in touch with friends far away.

Your college sweetheart: My ex-wife, Janice (Janey) Glenn

Favorite hang-out on-campus: Painting studio

The craziest thing you did while at KCAI:

10 of us stood in a wide circle in the painting studio just before Xmas time off and for the longest time passed a fifth of boubon from one to the next in celebration. Not very crazy – but what was funny was our professor walked in and when he saw what we were doing turned in an instant on his heel and was out the door.

The funniest experience at KCAI : The one listed above.

Tell us about the moment that you truly knew that you were an

artist/designer:

Way before KCAI – in my attic in Schenectady, NY.

One moment here at KCAI that you will remember for the rest of your life:

The time our professor was chided by a museum guard for being “too familiar”

with a painting.

The hardest lesson: Art is hard work.

Other special memories:

Living an open and near trouble free life with a group of very special people.


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