Ten days ago; on a muggy early evening on the first Friday of August, I drove from Edmonton to Red Deer with two bottles of wine. (Those are not my normal traveling companions, don't worry!) I was going to the opening of the show I am a part of this month at the Harris-Warke Gallery (in the back of Sunworks on Ross St.). I left Edmonton a bit late. I got there at 6:45pm instead of 6pm. Sigh. Maneuver through Friday downtown traffic. Park car. Get out of car. Grab bottles. Lock car. Walk 10 feet to back door of Sunworks. Get let in. Walk 15 feet to gallery. Put down bottles. Put down bag. Hug 3 people. Obtain glass of wine. And let the conversations begin.
That is pretty much how the remaining 1hour and 15 minutes of the opening went. When I finished one conversation, I turned around and another one began. I made some new friends and had some time to visit with people I hadn't seen since I moved away from Red Deer almost 3 years ago.
The conversational highlight of my evening was definitely with my high school art teacher, Mr. Alspach. (I have a REALLY hard time calling him by his first name, in type or in person. Sorry Bob!) Surprisingly, art was one of my favorite subjects in high school. (Surprise!!) Then drama. Then humanities. Then math....when I had a tutor to help my brain think in a logical fashion.
Some of my favorite memories of him are:
1. the time he threatened to not let me use my eraser in my sketchbook anymore so I would spend more time DRAWING and less time erasing
2. the time he threatened to attach a woolen dish mop to the end of a yard stick, move all the back work tables together to create a platform at the back of the classroom; wherein he would spread large sheets of newsprint on top and get me to draw something that couldn't possibly have minute detail OR be erased. (I had a penchant for drawing tiny things in great detail that would only be about 2-3 inches big at times.) This one is particularly funny to me because after high school I went to RDC and took the technical theater program....where I majored in scenic painting and design....and had to draw and paint things using charcoal or a paint brush on the end of a long, flexible fiberglass stick!
3. the times he challenged me to work with a line I had drawn that I didn't like.
4. his urging me to stop ripping pages out of my sketchbook in frustration when a drawing didn't turn out how I thought it should. His argument against this was that I wouldn't be able to see my progress if I had no earlier drawings to compare my new ones to.
Our conversation happened in the last 15 minutes of the opening. I looked to the refreshment table to get another glass of wine, but it had been cleared already. It was time to go. Shit. As we gathered our things and started clearing out, he said he came across some of my sketches from my sketchbook that he had scanned. I don't have those sketchbooks anymore, so I was thrilled when he said he could email the images to me. I glanced at a few of them and thought; "no.....he has my work mixed up with another student....". Then I saw the signatures on the bottom right.
These would be from grade 9-12 I believe. Thank you so much for these treasures Mr. Alspach. (And the threats!)