Fine Arts teacher Michael Gaudreau, class of ‘70, sits in his classroom among various student drawings and sculptures. Despite the thin layer of clay that seems to cover everything, Gaudreau seems to be right at home: he is sharing his passion and inspiring others with art.
Before Gaudreau began teaching at JC in 1974, he worked several jobs that he credits with building a foundation in art. For example, he worked in the psychiatric ward at Johns Hopkins University for two years as a child life worker. “I would come up with games for kids ages five to 15 who had all sorts of problems. Some were runaways, anorexic, abused, had suicide attempts, and they were all in this one area of the hospital,” Gaudreau said.
The challenges that those children dealt with opened Gaudreau’s eyes to a side of life that he had not previously thought about. “I realized there was a whole world that I never expected. It was emotionally draining, but it was a wonderful experience,” Gaudreau said.
Gaudreau’s time working in the psychiatric ward at Hopkins taught him lessons that he has carried with him throughout his life. “I learned that it was really hard work, and I could do it. I learned that even with all their problems, kids are still kids,” Gaudreau said.
He also established a basis in working with children at a summer camp throughout high school and college, where Gaudreau helped students with arts and crafts for four years. It was his first experience guiding people younger than him with art projects.
After graduating from JC in 1970, Gaudreau went to Towson University so that he could eventually both teach and create art. Gaudreau explained his passion for teaching, saying, “I always liked showing people how to do things. Whenever I learned things, I liked to show others.”
When Gaudreau was a senior in college, he received a call from the principal at JC, who offered him a job interview. Frank Kelly, Gaudreau’s former art teacher and one of the people that encouraged Gaudreau’s pursuit of art, recommended him as a potential candidate. Though Gaudreau was not specifically looking for a job at his alma mater, he accepted the position and has since been working as a Fine Arts teacher here for 43 years.
According to Gaudreau, the transition to full-time teaching was not difficult. “After my experience at Hopkins, teaching kids that I was only four years older than was easy,” Gaudreau said.
I always liked showing people how to do things. Whenever I learned things, I liked to show others”
— Michael Gaudreau
While Gaudreau has formed many memories over his tenure at JC, some of his favorite memories are of seeing his own students’ achievements. For example, Gaudreau thinks fondly about opening night for the plays, where he led set creation for over 30 productions, and about the annual Fine Arts Show.
“[I love seeing] kids realize they could do stuff they never thought they could do and then move on from that,” Gaudreau said.
In addition to pursuing art through a school setting, Gaudreau also actively displays his passion by producing his own artwork as a practicing landscape painter. He has been competing in art shows since 2010 and posts his work on a personal website.
Gaudreau regularly updates his website to reflect his latest accomplishments and paintings. In September, Gaudreau won the Art du Pastel en France Award from the Pastel Society of America for his work “Spring Thaw.” Gaudreau also received second place in the Maryland Federation of Art Show at the Annapolis Maritime Museum in October for his work “Waterworks.”
Though his primary artistic passion is painting, Gaudreau appreciates many other art forms. He collects antiques and children’s board games, reads mystery novels, and watches action movies.
Gaudreau wants his dedication to art to be evident to everyone he meets. “I want people to know that I paint as much as possible,” Gaudreau said.
His favorite spot to paint and create meaningful pieces of art is the outdoors. “I love being outdoors in God’s creation. When I’m working outdoors, I am not just seeing nature, but I am trying to figure it out. I am experiencing nature,” Gaudreau said. “When it works, it is almost like praying, but not that serious. I feel like I have a spiritual connection to the land.”
Ianna Pirozzi is an In-Focus Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.
By John Chambless
It's an ideal season for a landscape show, and the four artists featured at the Oxford Arts Alliance make the most of the theme. The exhibit, “Plein Air-ism: A Responsive Echo,” opened on April 15 and continues through May 24.
Ellen Corddry's “Cherry Run, Ricketts Glen, Pa.” is a very fine watercolor and crayon work that has a semi-abstract quality that comes from the overlapping textures of ferns and leaves on the stream banks, as well as the swirling patterns in the shallow stream. Corddry's hand-colored woodcuts are also interesting, with bold black lines and delicate tinting that gives them a distinctive look.
John Sauers has a nice, chilly winter scene, “Snow, Sleet and Ice,” in which a crow in the foreground regards a tree that's weighted down with ice. The crow turns up in several other pieces by Sauers, such as the sunny landscape “Field With Hay Bales, Late Summer.”
Mary Swann's oil landscapes have a sketchy texture and light tone that's shown nicely in “Ober Farm,” in which the artist's brush strokes are evident in the view of farm field and a mass of billowing clouds.
But it's Michael Gaudreau who works the most magic in his luminous pastels and vividly rendered oils. “Lone Pine, Winter” gets everything right – reflective water, dried scrub trees and a thicket of evergreens in a cold, slanting light. “Drydock, The Skipjack Martha Lewis” captures the blue foreground shadow on a white boat hull, as well as the expanse of backlit clouds above. His “First Snow on Mt. Giant,” the woodland scene “Raking Shadows” and “Moving Cloud” are virtuoso efforts in pastel. Each one has shadows you can practically feel, and a marvelous sense of depth and space.
“Plein Air-ism: A Responsive Echo” continues through May 24 at the Oxford Arts Alliance (38 S. Third St., Oxford). The gallery will also be part of the Chester County Studio Tour on May 21 and 22. The gallery is open, free of charge, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.oxfordart.org for more information.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email email@example.com.
August 8, 2013
By ROBIN CAUDELL Press Republican Thu Aug 08, 2013, 03:21 AM EDT
KEENE VALLEY — Gallerist Martha Corscaden was asked for a long time to show “Vry’s big ones,” the large-scale art of her sister/artist Vryling C. Roussin.
“Vry’s Big Ones” opens today at Corscaden Arts & Barn Gallery in Keene Valley.
The exhibition runs through Labor Day and features the work of Roussin (1944-2004) and gallery artists Stephanie De Manuelle, Michael Gaudreau, Garrett Jewett and Bear Miller.
Guest artists are Monica Bradbury, John Hudson and Cinda Longstreth.
HONORING HER SISTER
“It’s quite a task,” Corscaden said. “Then, I got really inspired, and I said I would do that. This is my main show, and I will honor my sister.
“I have a range of selected large paintings. They are landscapes, except one is a figure. There’s a phase she went through, more natural, impressionist landscapes in the ‘70s.”
The next main grouping of Roussin’s paintings date from 1997 to 2000.
“So, it’s quite a contrast,” Corscaden said. “The latter pieces are much more contemporary, and they show quite a range of growth. It’s really kind of at the height of her painting near the end of her life.”
During a chapter of their lives, Michael Gaudreau and Roussin both lived in Baltimore. They never knew each other or met. A native Baltimorean, he and Roussin both attended Maryland Institute College of Art. He was four years behind her.
“We crossed paths through her work,” said Gaudreau, a landscape painter/ceramicist who teaches at the John Carroll School in Bel Air, Md.
“Many years ago, when we first came up here, I went to the Corscaden Gallery and saw her work and met her sister (Martha Corscaden). The work is amazing.
“So, we knew all the same teachers and some of the same people. I could see the influence of some of the instructors of MICA.”
When Gaudreau first saw Roussin’s painting of Lower Ausable Lake, he thought he was peering through a kaleidoscope.
“It was absolutely beautiful patterns in the sky, and I knew it was the lake. So many landscape artists paint what they see in a realistic manner, and she painted what she saw but at the same time expressed what she felt. It was a very personal, emotional, reaction to the landscape. You knew what you were looking at, but you were seeing it through her eyes.”
Transformed by her work, Gaudreau felt he had permission to go further and not be a realist painter of the Adirondacks landscape.
“There is a great freedom in her work, a wonderful sense of color. You can tell they’re Vry’s. She painted with her heart.”
Since the first of August, Gaudreau and his trusty Irish setter, Maggie, have trekked within the Blue Line from their base at Trail’s End Inn in Keene Valley.
He equates painting en plein aire to fly fishing. Both are accomplished in breathtaking vistas and require specific equipment. In the process, sometimes you get a keeper. Sometimes, you don’t and throw it back.
In “Vry’s Big Ones,” his works includes a number of landscapes. Subject matter includes the Bouquet River, Chapel Pond and streams rock, water and birch trees. He is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America.
“I really love painting Johns Brooks, the Bouquet and Ausable. I hike up with my easel on my backpack. I find a place and set up and paint what I truly love to paint.
“The experience of being in the deep woods up here, the light is just wonderful.”
Over the past 20 years, he knows where to set up to capture dawn light cresting over Giant Mountain.
“Chapel Pond is my favorite place,” Gaudreau said. “It’s my spiritual home.”
Email Robin Caudell:firstname.lastname@example.org
IF YOU GO WHAT: "Vry's Big Ones" featuring the works of Vry Roussin, Stephanie De Manuelle, Michael Gaudreau, Garrett Jewett, Bear Miller, Monica Bradbury, John Hudson and Cinda Longstreth. WHEN: Opening reception 5 to 7 p.m. today. WHERE: Corscaden Barn Gallery, 58 Beers Bridge Way (1.5 miles south of Keene Valley on Route 73). GALLERY HOURS: Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekdays by appointment. PHONE: 576-9850. E-MAIL: email@example.com