Jun 18th, 2003

Not Dark Yet

My mentor, Eugene Massin, has died. I am, of course, consumed by guilt for not having visited him at his studio for a couple of years. I am, of course, consumed by guilt for not having called him lately, either. This was the man who taught me, well, frankly, he taught me everything that was ever of use to me after I got out of art school.* He taught me the difference between looking and seeing, and I don't believe that there is a more essential skill. He taught me how to draw. Really draw. How to make a line that was lush and delicate at the same time. How to lay a pencil mark on paper that spoke volumes about light and shadow and texture and skin. How to draw.

He taught my husband how to teach art, although neither of them knew it at the time. He taught us all to respect our work, to see the majesty in our calling. The first time I told him to keep his marks off my drawing, he tousled my hair and told me I was going to be an artist, after all. He taught us to question everything, to absorb it and to process it and to put it back out with the marks of our own hands, our own souls.

He was a giant. He truly loved to teach and to be surrounded by his students. They kept him vital. And he gave us something that cannot be put in words.

Physically, he was huge, or seemed to be. If Michelangelo was around the Grove in the 70s and had needed a model for Moses, he would have chosen Gene. He was patriarchal in the biblical sense of the word. His presence was such that it filled any space he happened to occupy.

And now, there is a vacuum. We, his students, must strive to fill that void with our own works, in Gene's memory and honor.

Another memorial service. Crap.

* OK, I learned one other thing of value in college, and this from my film professor: The action goes where the interest lies. Yeah. That'll straighten everything in life out, if you just think about it and follow it.