When I was 18 I moved to New York to go to art school. All I knew was that I wanted to be a fine artist, and that The Art Students League of New York had been recommended to me by the mother of a friend, who was a proffessional artist, as one of the best places to study, especially if you were interested in the techniques of The Old Masters.
The League's philosophy suited very much my idea about what the study of art should be comprised of...
The League began and continues to be a collection of studios, each autonomous and directed by the creative authority and counsel of the individual instructor without interference from the administration - a tradition that ensures that students are able to choose among a wide range of modes of expression. This framework, based on the 19th Century French atelier system, enabled a pluralistic and inclusive education - one that cultivated both the technical and intellectual components essential to developing the skills of visual artists.Georgia O'Keefe, Alexander Calder, Norman Rockwell, Winslow Homer, Man Ray, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and many others famous artists had attended the League...I could NOT believe I would be studying at such a place. My stomach was turned inside out.
I was living outside the city, so I took a train into Manhattan and then slugged my big black portfolio from Grand Central to The League on West 57th, just down the street from Carnegie Hall.
I walked into the office of Rosaria de Florio, the League's Director at the time. I sat down on the floor by her desk and opened my portfolio on the ground. She leaned forward, elbows on her knees, and looked down at my work with careful consideration. "Hmmmm...yes...", she said, "I will put you in the class of Ted Seth Jacobs, he will teach you how to draw and paint light on form." If I had known anthing of who Ted Seth Jacobs was, I probably would have been too intimitated to go!
I think back now and imagine the experienced eyes of this woman on my childish mish-mash of high-school art, and I am so full of gratitude for the care and seriousness with which she regarded what I had done, and what I meant to do. The time she took, and the wisdom of her decision to put me in Ted's class has made all the difference in my life.