Sunday, January 31, 2010

Art Blog: Mr. Wilbert

Life is so funny and strange. The longer I am alive; I laugh more and scratch my head harder. Decade after decade, I collect memories and accrue wisdom, but still find each new day surprising.

I just found out I have been included in an exhibition titled “Robert Wilbert: Teacher, Mentor, Friend” being shown at the Scarab Club in Detroit, Michigan. When I found out about this show, my first reaction was excitement. Then during the following days, a flood of memories haunted me. At any given moment, obscure, incidental visions of my life decades ago enveloped me.

You see, Robert Wilbert was one of my first painting professors. Actually, I knew him as “MR. WILBERT”. He was my teacher while attending Wayne State University. To this day, whenever I smell turpentine, the image of his face pops into my mind. I remember walking into the cavernous art studio in “Old Main”. As I hopped up the stairs, the aroma of turpentine seemed to lead the way to the door. As I entered the studio, I would see a very tall silhouette of a man. His shiny silver hair gleamed in the sun soaked room.

Mr. Wilbert is a painter’s painter. I am sure; he is the only professor during my time at the university who would do painting demonstrations. I remember how he would gather students around an easel and he would show us how to paint. I remember taking notes and trying to sponge up all his little tips and tricks. I was always in awe of his ability to teach and create art.

I had a revelation this week. One small, but significant Mr. Wilbert memory which came to me was going to one of his art exhibitions. I remember standing for a very long time in front of one of his paintings. The thing that mesmerized me was that he signed the painting right in the middle of the canvas. I thought that was so weird, but I was mesmerized by the juxtaposition of imagery and text. Then it dawned on me. Most all of my work does that same thing. My “States of Being” series are examples of how that memory influenced me and has an effect on my work even after all these years. It is the same concept. Of course, I have my own Sheree style of painting, but the image is behind the writing. Instead of using my signature, I put the title smack dab in the middle of the picture plane! When I realized this, I just giggled.

Yesterday, I received the exhibition announcement for this show. Excitement turned to awe. Not only am I honored to be a part of this show which pays tribute to Mr. Wilbert, but the show roster reads like a “Who’s Who” of Detroit art. I am overwhelmed with admiration for all the artists in the show. I am so proud to be a part of this exhibition and happy to carry all the memories associated with it.


Click pic to see exhibition announcement

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheree - how exciting - and here here on your thoughts about "Mr. Wilbert" - it should be a joyous occasion.
Mary Stephenson

Cagney Studio 8 said...

Congratulations Sheree! How wonderful and nostalgic all at the same time. Will you travel to the show?

deb said...

whenever I read a post about an old prof. I feel I should write all of mine to thank them for the change they made in my life... congrats Sheree, couldn't happen to a nicer person!

deb said...

whenever I read a post about an old prof. I feel I should write all of mine to thank them for the change they made in my life... congrats Sheree, couldn't happen to a nicer person!

JafaBrit's Art said...

This is a lovely post Sheree and congrats on the show, what a fun show it will be I think.