Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dwight Harmon

Strange how random things will trigger a memory & make you think about someone.

I just framed the piece below for a show I'm hanging on Saturday. As I was pulling off the plastic that protects the plexiglass, I remembered that Dwight loved that stuff. I couldn't remember exactly why but I remember him being absolutely giddy about it. It was a long time ago.

Dwight was one of my teachers at Art Center. He was one of my favorite instructors and had the best sense of humor by far. In a nutshell, Dwight's thing was getting students to experiment, have fun and hopefully make some really cool art (that's a very simplistic summary). He was killed a few years after I graduated (murdered, actually, but I won't talk about that or the rat bastards who did it). I just haven't thought about him in a while so it was a strange sensation to be ripping plastic off a sheet of plexiglass, thinking about all the things I need to finish when suddenly Dwight pops into my head.

Just about every available surface in my house is covered with paintings in various states of "almost" ready to be framed. While I waited for the varnish to dry on a few of them, I decided to do some surface prep in case I have time to knock out a few more before Saturday. I grabbed the plastic out of the trash to protect my kitchen table, then slathered on a few good coats of acrylic medium onto my painting surface. After it dried, I picked up the piece. Thats when I remembered why Dwight loved that stuff so much. Acrylic wont stick to it. It just slides right off .

Dwight used to pour acrylic over the plastic, swirl it around, draw in it with the back end of a paintbrush, his fingers, or whatever else was lying around. After it was dry, he'd throw another layer on and play around with different pigments adjusting the opacity with gloss medium. When he was finished, and it had dried, he would peel it off and have a painting without a "surface". With a huge smile, he would hold it up for everyone to see. "LOOK AT THIS! This stuff is amazing!"

Just the thought of that cherubic face and his gleeful smile made me laugh.

So Dwight, wherever you are, we still think about you, we still love you, we still miss you...and you still make me laugh.


Sheff said...

I remember when Dwight planned a ski trip for our Media Experimentation class. We were supposed to meet up at his house and then go from there. Because the weather was bad in Pasadena, I was the only one who showed up. So Dwight taught me how to ski, and afterwards I bought him some cognac. It was a nice afternoon. That's my best memory of Dwight.

Antrese said...

Wow! Seeing your name is an unexpected blast from the past! That's a great memory.

Another thing I remember was how excited he was about the Luxor in Vegas. They were building it when I had his class. He had a count down for the opening. "They're going to have a light shooting out of the top of the Pyramid--I bet you can see it from SPACE!!!" Dwight would spend the first hour of class talking about current events and that semester the Luxor was a hot topic with him.

The other thing that I think comes to mind for most people who had him was that if everyone in the class paid him $5, he would "eat a tube of paint". He chose cad red for our class. He made such a production of swirling the paint around in his mouth & then gave us a big smile so we could see his teeth completely covered with red paint.

I had Properties of Artistic Materials at the same time. That class would be better named "All the ways you are going to DIE from being an artist" so I was pretty shocked that he actually did it.

Dwight was so funny...

Jhoneil said...

Ahhh Dwight - He did a great impression of that guy from "The Princess Bride". Inconceivable!!

Thomas Webb said...

Dwight has been the biggest enflunce on my work ever. I think of him constently while I work. Every solo show I have I have mentioned him in my Artists statement and or dedication. There are too many funny and touching memories to write them down, it would be nice to sit on a nice deck some where with coctails and just reminisce.
One funny memory I have is during a critique, while looking at a monster I had painted a young lady spoke up and asked. "What is this?" pointing at the monsters nether regions. Before I could say anything Dwight yells out indignantly, " It's his Penis!! Look at it!"
Made my day LOL, infact it has made many days, And that is the beauty of Dwight Harmon, he still is makeing many of our days better.

Anonymous said...

ENZO & eating cadmium red paint.... losing the fear of painting.

thank you Dwight

Anonymous said...

My story on Dwight.

I first applied to Art Center under Fine Art, much to my disappointment and anger I was turned down. "Who needs Art Center Any way" some time later I received a letter from Phill Hays (R.I.P.)asking me to reapply under Illustration.

Well it turned out Dwight had spotted my portfolio, read my application, noted that I was an Air Force veteran like he and Phill Hays and that I was Born in East L.A.

He felt it necessary to become involved and showed my work to Phill. They both obviously felt I was worthy. Dwight was a great teacher and human being, always allowing us to explore and try new things.

He was a good man and it was very heart breaking news when he passed.
Many others of my time also passed Richard Bunkall, Burne Hogarth and of course Phill Hays. All of which left a lasting memory in my life.

atilio pernisco said...

I remember some of you in that class!! Now i'm trying to remember.. How was exactly that technique of gouache and the china ink than later we washed off under the sink??
I'm trying to remember..
Do you guys remember more of his techniques..The one of the drawing by scratching on the plexi-glass and rub a paper on the other side with graphite.. What else...??

Dwight, will always live- Enzo forever!!!!!


RJew said...

I find myself thinking of Dwight quite frequently and miss him very much. He had such a great spirit about him. As an Associate Professor of Art teaching college, I think of Dwight everytime I give a demo. I recite his mantra to students, "Maximize pleasure, minimize pain."
I use to go on Dwight's infamous river trip. Basically, it was a getaway from the rigors of ACCD during the semester, to just float down the Colorado river and drink and enjoy living. I remember on one trip, Dwight passed out floating on his custom barge and burned the only thing that either wasn't covered with clothing or sunscreen... his lips! He looked like Angelina Jolie for about a week! haha
When I moved away from Pasadena, I bought a house down south and had a housewarming party. During the day of the party, Dwight had called me to let me know that he could make it and needed directions. I didn't get his message till later that night. I never saw him again. He was gone the next weekend.