1/10/2008

Ron Haynie -

1969 was my second year at Dunbarton College of the Holy Cross. A thirty year old housewife and mother of three I was stepping out into a new world as a fledgling artist. That same September twenty something Ron Haynie, a newly minted MFA graduate from American University took his first college teaching position - teaching painting and art history at a small Catholic women's college - also Dunbarton.

At the time I had no idea how lucky I was to encounter Ron as a guide as I ventured forth re-discovering the world by SEEING it through a painter's eyes. Ron was determined he would help his students belly up to the bountiful feast the world sets before us. He urged us to dig in.

Ron did not walk into a studio classroom - he burst in, brush or book in hand, his mouth moving. A veritable cheerleader for art - our art. The studio was his oyster. His enthusiasm was infectious. His love for painting and paintings was soul deep and he shared it lavishly. He cared that we too would feel the same passion for color and light, paint and canvas that he did.

Ron was one of the most articulate people I have ever known. Behind a slide projector, lecturing on art history, he used words to paint the connections between disparate periods of art history - to show us the visual links between pieces of art made centuries apart. Always nudging, pushing his students to Look. Look, Look. Not to be satisfied with the first quick recognition, look harder, look closer, look and see - to understand. And if he thought you didn't get it the first time he could say the same thing ten more times, differently, until something connected.

I will never forget a field trip to the Barnes Collection Ron organized for us at Dunbarton. At that time the Barnes in Philadelphia was somewhat closed and you could only get in to see the works by special appointment. Masperpiece works by Matisse and Picasso held captive so to speak. When the doors opened promptly at 10 am he was so excited by the art that it was hard to keep up with him. He was like a kid in a candy shop. Racing ahead of us, calling back. "Come here. See this. Don't you recognize this one? Can you believe it." To this day, I never walk into a gallery that my heart does not quicken, that I don'l feel a rush of excitement, a heightened sense of expectancy. Ron Haynie ignited that spark and I am deeply grateful to him for sharing his love of art so exuberantly.

Ron's teaching 40 years ago at Dunbarton and later at American University still influences how I look at art and the world, how I make my art and how I teach. How I walk into a gallery. How I look at a painting.

In 1969 Ron stood at the beginning of a distinguished career as a teacher/professor and painter. He continured to teach at Dunbarton until it closed and then at American University until a few years ago.

Ron Haynie died January 4, 2008. At his service today a former student, a colleague, and a family member reflected on his impact on them. They teared and wept and we in the chairs wept with them. How could you not weep?

Isn't a teacher, one who has made a real and lasting impact on students and colleagues, a "father" of a kind.

I am reminded of the woman telling Atticus' daugher in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' " stand up, your father is passing by."


From Ron's Service:

Reluctance by Robert Frost

Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last long aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch-hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question 'Whither?'

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

3 comments:

Marshall said...

Your stories of Ron touched my heart. I'm a close friend of his daughter, and so I can agree fully that Ron was an amazing man. Not just an amazing artist, or teacher, but all around amazing man, full of such an overabundance of joy and vivacity that it can scarcely be believed he has departed. Thank you for sharing this; I'm grateful for the glimpse of him as a young man, and all the more saddened at his parting.

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