This is an installment in a series of profiles called “7 Things” about O’Dowd’s terrific faculty and staff that is regularly featured on our website. Visit http://www.bishopodowd.org/7things/ to see more.
What inspired you to do this kind of work?
Ever since I can remember, I was always doing two things – playing sports and making art. I pursued both loves in college. I played football at Cal State University (never say East Bay) Hayward for four years while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art.
What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd?
I am one of four visual art teachers at O’Dowd, and am currently in my 21st year teaching art here. I recently returned to coaching and serve as an assistant coach for Doug Vierra’s freshman football team.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received (generally – it doesn’t have to be related to O’Dowd)?
Former O’Dowd art teacher Wayne Shaffer developed the year-long Drawing and Design course that is still offered and I currently teach. An art term I learned from him is Full Range of Value (FRV*) and it is an element of art that I have students apply to most of their artwork. This term is valued so much that I teach it in every one of my courses and include its application into my personal art.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Being able to develop a curriculum for each of my art classes, preparing the step-by-step example for art projects, and then seeing the students produce amazing pieces for themselves. I will always consider myself a traditionalist in art application, but it is fun researching new ideas for projects, and assembling technological lectures for my students to grasp, as well as strengthening their concepts for art styles.
What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?
How I grade art. Most believe that grading art is subjective. Once upon a time, in my earlier years, I felt this way. Over the years, with the help of my art colleagues, I have implemented a six-step grading criteria for each and every phase of the art of a given assignment. This has alleviated much of the guesswork for grading my student’s art.
What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?
During college I worked as a security guard at O’Dowd. In 1989, I interviewed with current Dean of Students Gary “Mace” Mason, and he hired me to work security for four hours each afternoon. About the same time, one of the art teachers, Caroline Fields, was getting ready to go on maternity leave. I substituted in her classes, and I loved it. As soon as I graduated with my B.A. in Studio Art, I was hired to teach art full-time. And soon after that, I was also hired to coach various levels of football. Working with students in and out of the classroom is an awesome combination.
If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be?
Hanging up behind my desk is a Father’s Day gift my wife made for me. It is a photo collage plaque of my son and I having fun at one of his doctor checkups.
What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands?
Once an art project is introduced, and the students are steadily working, I play music from various channels on Sirius XM or Pandora during class. My personal favorites are R&B, Old School Rap, Salsa/Afro-Cuban, Vicente Fernandez and Electric/House.
What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete?
Hall of Famer Howie Long was my favorite player growing up, and I wore his #75 in every level of football I played. I am often asked, “Do you like the Raiders?” and I am quick to reply, “NO! I love the Raiders!” That love has been tested the last 10+ years, that is why I’m “diehard fan” not “bandwagon fan.”
*In art, value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color.