The Art of Teaching

“What struck me first was the variety in forms, colors and moods,” says junior Christina Farris as she looks around Reynolds Gallery. Eight art professors have gathered the best of their recent work for the Art Faculty Show, an exhibit that highlights the breadth of the department from abstract wood and stone sculptures by Chris Rupp, a new addition to the department, to highly detailed still life paintings by department chair Susan Savage.

Farris, who has developed an alternative major with the goal of becoming an arts critic, compares the show to a recital by music faculty. “It shows students what the professors are doing and gives us an idea of the process as well as the finished work.”

The faculty show has become a tradition at Westmont, occurring once every three years or so, and Savage sees it as an opportunity to focus on the gallery’s role as an educational space for students and the community. The exhibit connects closely with students’ experience in the classroom, sparking new conversations about style, technique and process.

Community members gathered in the gallery en masse for the opening reception, reiterating Reynolds’ growing presence in the art world of Montecito, Santa Barbara and beyond. “It has become a little jewel in the community,” Savage says, listing the many church groups, elementary schools and other organizations that have visited the gallery this season.

Along with Savage and Rupp, the other art professors were invited to select their own work to include in the show. Scott Anderson shows five small still lifes in oil, depicting subtly colored fruit surrounded by folds of fabric. Brad Elliott’s “Autumn Drop” photographs zoom in on drops of water suspended on leaves and thistles, while ceramicist Deanna Pini exhibits tables and benches with three-dimensional sunflower tiling. She also includes photographs of her sunflower tiles in an installation at the Chantico Inn in Ohai.

John Carlander exhibits his skills in both abstract and representational painting. Art critic Josef Woodard calls his landscapes “warmly desolate,” and compares his abstract musical instruments to the early work of Picasso and Braque.

Siu Zimmerman fills a wall with bright, layered prints of gestural calligraphy, and gallery director Tony Askew fills the back enclave of the gallery with earthy abstract prints.

The show holds special significance for Askew, as it is his last exhibit as a member of the faculty. He will retire after this year, leaving a lasting legacy in the art department and gallery he helped to form over his 25 years at Westmont. “To see the creation and growth of the gallery program and the art major since the early 1980s has been extraordinary,” he says. “I am grateful to have such excellent colleagues who are dedicated to their teaching and who celebrate their faith through the creative process. What a blessing it is and always will be to have been a part of Westmont College.”

As Woodard writes in his review, “strong yet subtle creative energies apparently abound on this idyllic campus, and the future brims with promise.”

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