I manipulate metals and minerals and bonding solutions in order to provoke emotional responses from people I will usually never meet. That which happens in the process some people call art. My talent for creating icons and illusions turned into a lifetime of manipulations... in various pigments, bronze and steel, some quite large, which loom in museums, schools, collections and public places all over Texas. Here on this blog you can watch my creative actions and insights unfold...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Naked Truth About NTSU & Art School

 The staff of the North Texas Daily in 1975, as pictured in the college annual... the LAST college annual from NTSU...
 So I thought it would be fun now to revisit this whole ‘70’s college scene. I even went and bought an old college annual from that year when I transferred to North Texas. I am not in it, but that wild, anarchic world is very much in evidence. I know you are going to find all of this incredible, even now!

North Texas was an old and yet progressive state teachers college, a Liberal Arts school with a capital L. It was striving to join the coveted Southwest Football Conference. The highly admired Hayden Fry had been hired to coach the dream team that would win respect and ultimately entrance into the big leagues of college football. The home of “Mean” Joe Green, North Texas was full of itself. Of course, as a Fine Arts student, I did not really care much about all of that.

The fad of streaking had emerged the year before when I was at TCU. Streaking was popular on campuses all over the country for a year or so… then went away. Nobody ever explained why they started or why they quit. North Texas had streakers too. That is another blog… But somebody came out with a funny song about it, and everybody laughed it off and went back to business. The streakers were not the problem.

The “problems”were the various college administrations who could not handle the extremely clever and devious students everywhere who seemed to know how to get under their skin and make them act foolishly. That even included me. The art/journalism folks had especially made themselves public enemy number one. 

It was an intellectual struggle, and it was a fight to the finish. The student-generated North Texas Daily never missed an opportunity to embarrass and chastise the powers that be, so the university administration did the only reasonable thing, it began to defund certain irritating student-led institutions who had abused their First Amendment Rights, and especially those who could finagle a well-timed last word on various subjects. The old tradition of the college annual was killed outright.

So in its farewell publication, the discontinued annual staff created one hellova document… to forever embarrass and chastise. They must have spent a great deal of time thinking it through… and they had nothing to lose. It may have been the only Playboy themed college annual ever published. 

The North Texas Daily staff posed nude under the bedcovers, all of them together… a la “Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice.” The staff artist placed Playboy nymphs on many pages, spritely frolicking bare-chested amongst the photos of classmates. There was even a chapter entitled “Playmates.”

What is most stunning to me though, as I thumb through this wonderful time capsule, are the excellent articles, on concerns of the day; The dismal job market. It was terrible. So bad, folks were gladly prolonging graduation or going for their Masters degrees to just stay in school; The growing misuse of “student service fees,” usually for athletics; Student drinking; Women’s Rights; Corruption in Government at the highest levels. Nixon and most of his cabinet had finally stepped down. Good riddance, but what kind of country had we inherited, anyway? An unexplainable ENERGY CRISIS and outrageous gas prices; The desperate need for racial tolerance and understanding; The need for Freedom of Speech and the Freedom of the Press, no matter how uncomfortable it made certain parties…

Things have not changed a bit in forty years.

And the headlines of campus excitement, like the issues of today, were very similar to those of today… High profile football games, Willie Nelson singing on the campus… Troublemakers getting in trouble after making trouble for the administration…It’s all the same after 40 years! (Willie just played with his son at Texas A & M a few months ago...)

 Yes, absolutely, I took Life Drawing... TWICE... in fact that was where I found my purpose in life... and got myself uninvited to the art program at NTSU...

So this was the toxic bed of intolerance and discontent I walked into expecting to be treated fairly. There was so much negativity behind the scenes it is a wonder there was not more of a physical revolution emerging than a few dudes and chicks running around naked. And if you were in any of my life drawing classes, that was not a very big deal.

That was the seventies… which were pretty much like the eighties… and so on…

The only difference seems to be the technology employed. Now today’s youths run around naked on the Internet. And the means of debasement is the only development in the system. Those elusive desirable jobs are even more scarce, but now you can apply for the job you are not going to get online. You can save yourself the humiliation of knocking on doors… And the government is even more corrupt, but now they can employ all kinds of technologies to rob us, violate our rights and invade our lives, via Internet surveillance. Energy is still a wild economic roller coaster,  but we can know instantly what the price of crude is in Saudi Arabia, which we can never control or beat or compete with in a million years.

All of those educated fools in all of those colleges with all of those degrees, and we still have not solved any of the challenges of the Twentieth Century. And we are fifteen years into the Twenty-first. Makes me glad I did not invest my life in Economics, or Science, or Humanities, since they have learned and solved nothing in a half-century. At least in art school, I was told I was NOT going to be happy AND TO GET OUT OF HERE and I was a pathetic ANACHRONISM on a good day. This was all very sound advice. Those caring folks tried to save me a lot of time and money.
It seems any kind of art was considered art at NTSU, which had a very respectable art program in 1975. Any kind except mine of course.

I went back to school later at Sam Houston State and finished my degree. In the end I was absolutely sure my professors at NTS were correct. I was a throwback to the past, and I did not fit this era I am living in. Thank God! It turns out neither did they. 

So I have spent the last forty years being an anachronism. I’m a proud, lifelong ANACHRONIST, repelled out of art school by artist-anarchists. I was told by educated experts that I was not an artist… I’ve spent my whole career not even sure how to professionally define myself.

Pardon me for this observation, but after a life in art, or something akin to it, fifty years of painting and sculpting, PROFESSIONALLY, I have to call what I encountered at North Texas as a hostile hub of lies and revolution… something akin to THE SPIRIT OF THE ANTI- CHRIST.

I think I will stick with my brand… I could have done a lot worse.

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