MHS Art Teacher
-by Michael S. Bell
I loved my days at MHS, as a freshman and sophomore, before transferring to John Adams High School. A number of my best friends of those days were stars on our football team -- Walter Hall and Ron Adams foremost.
As for memorable MHS classwork, I recall only the wonderful Drafting Instruction, the English Lit. class when we studied the unabridged David Copperfield, and the unforgettable Rosa Weikel in Art.
What stood out uppermost was her calmness and encouragement. Also, she used to paint on her own work right during classes, so we could see how she might handle technique. One of her paintings I have seen in my mind's eye ever since. It was a picture of a shorthaired woman filling the picture plane, in a diaphanous flowing dress walking away from the viewer, but with her upper torso turned slightly back to one side. She was enveloped, one might say, in a kind of pastel transparent wave of overlapping veils.
She seemed to be looking back while walking forward, and looking with her eyes slightly downward or to the side. That painting recalls Ms. Weikel herself to my mind. In class I used to look at this painting and think it was a self-portrait that she wanted us to see so we could learn about who she was inside.
Her instructional method was to give very gentle but quite precise hints as to how one might resolve a visual or a techincal problem. The assigned projects were not easy, but they were doable with patience and effort. It was in her class that I learned I was color-blind to reds and greens, by the simple expedient of her assigning us to paint a tree in oil. I kept not getting the bark and leaf colors quite right. The fact that she allowed me to come to class in lieu of study hall was just about the best gift I ever got in high school! I truly could not wait to get back in her class each day, and cared about little else (as is obvious from my not-so-hot grades in college-Prep courses!)
After serving in the Air Force during Vietnam, I received my BFA from California Institute of the Arts, studied fine art in the graduate school at University of Kentucky, and went on to devote more than 20 years of my professional life to being an art museum curator, director, and registrar.
Ms. Weikel had a profound effect by showing me something about art worth paying attention to! Nobody before me in my family had ever had the slightest known interest in art. Next week my eldest daughter will receive her Masters degree from NYU in the field of museum studies. She works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will begin attending Columbia for the Doctorate next Fall.
I remember only three pre-college teachers from any grade: Ms. Miller from 1st grade, Ms. Erickson from 3rd, and Ms. Rosa Weikel. If I could, in this way, express to her a long-intended gratitude, and give encouragement to parents, teachers, alumni, administrators, and members of boards and legislatures that -- for some students -- art is vital education, then perhaps I might return a small portion of the blessing one MHS teacher gave every day. Because of her inspiration in 1961-62, I was able to raise four children and support myself all my adult life, and participate in two of the glories of civilization; i.e., museums and fine art. She was one classy lady with a wonderful quiet gift readily shared.
Michael S. Bell
May 5, 2002,
(MHS student, 1961-62)
Mishawaka teacher tributes:
|Auggie Baetsle| |Emily Davidson|
|Charles Karst| |Thelma Martin, 1| |Thelma Martin, 2|
|Don Portolese| |Margaret Powell| |Earl Stine|
|Helen Stoddart| |Rosa Weikel| |Marvin Wood|