Saturday, July 8, 2017

Remembering Dan Tereshko

I am so fortunate to have studied Studio Art and Modern Art History under Dan Tereshko at Moravian College in the 1980's. "Mr T." always talked in depth with his students about the cultural context of modern art movements like Impressionism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Da-Da, Fauvism, Pop Art, etc., to give them an understanding of why artists veered off in certain directions, or rebelled against the stuffy conservative French Academy.
I learned that the modern artists were responding to their culture and world. Jackson Pollock was not just randomly spattering paint, he was painting figures, and was a trained artist. Picasso could paint realistically, but he decided to experiment, and he changed his style depending on what was happening in his life, and how he felt. He was influenced by African art. Of course, these classically trained artists learned the rules before they broke them. Many of these art movements coincided with the writing and music of the time period. Kandinsky, an abstract expressionist, wanted to paint how music made him feel.
Mr T. encouraged me to explore my own ideas, and take risks, but I learned by first copying the styles of famous artists, and studying art history in depth. He covered A LOT of artists, and I remember most of them. He made them real. He was funny, and he was irreverent, and he dressed like a slob. The other art professors seemed to value realism/classical art over much non-representational modern and contemporary art, and were a bit snobby. I felt like they did not like him. But T was the real deal. He studied with Richard Diebenkorn in California. He showed his work at famous NY galleries.
Mr. T unexpectedly passed away at the end of my senior year. He was a heavy smoker, and suffered a heart attack. I think he was under a lot of stress at his job. I was awarded the first DW Tereshko Memorial Prize in Studio Art. When they cleaned out his office, I got this picture of him with his work, early 1970's, NYC. He inspired me to teach children to appreciate all historical art movements, techniques, and creative expression of ideas, to explore, and not be afraid to take risks, to connect with art on a personal level, and to find joy and meaning in their lives through art.

CORRECTION: I have learned that my photo of Dan Tereshko is from the early 1980's, thanks to an astute reader!

UPDATE 8/4/17: I have added color photos of T's work, thanks to my friend (also a former student of Mr T's) Philadelphia artist Benjamin Long. Thanks Ben! This is a nice collection of images of T's incredible mixed media work!