Art Review: Professor Donald E. Gordon

Yes, initially Botendaddy did study Fine Arts with a goal of subsequently studying architecture, then urban and regional planning, then I was going to become this brilliant architect.

One small problem, while my aesthetic was good, the same ambidextriousness (I made this word up because I like it. I also made up the word ‘slown’ for ‘he slown down quit a bit afore the accident’) that plagued me in sports, except in Ice Hockey where I dominated, rendered my efforts in basic Design and Drawing practically useless. Everything I drew looked like it was drawn by a 12 year old who was trying really hard. Sure I could do a beautiful pastel rendering, thanks to T-Squares and various rulers, but I just didn’t have the hand-eye precision of a real artist.

It was at the University of Pittsburgh, no I’m not Barton Paul Levenson, the author, but I did meet him at the cross-hairs under the Cathedral of Learning in 82-83 where we would go to the Roy Rogers/Tuck Shop and discuss literature. He came from Charlotte N.C. to study Physics. I came from NYC believe it or not to study Fine Arts. (No, I can’t write either). I also met R.S.H. in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 2003. But at any rate, I took Professor Donald E. Gordon’s class on German Expressionism in 1981? He taught me to love Die Brücke, Kirchner, Heckel, Becker and the like. He helped organize the great Cleveland Exhibition of Kirchner’s work. (See Gordon’s book: Expressionism Art and Idea). And no I never advertise links, but this is an exception.

I won’t delve into Kirchner, but his soul was crushed by the spectre of National Socialism and his art was declared degenerate.

At any rate, a couple of years after I quit art, right before I graduated, in 1984, I saw Professor Gordon in the stacks, cross-legged on the floor at Hillman Library reading art books. I said hello. He said hello.

He died about a month later from cancer. I had no idea.

What struck me and strikes me to this day, is that he just kept on doing what he loved to do right up until the day he died. I hope I can do the same.



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